Last year, we took the fast train from Taipei to Taichung. It was modern enough. But nothing prepared me for the massive expanse of glass and steel that is the Shanghai Hongquiao Railway Station. It looks bigger than our airport terminal in Manila. Okay, I will vote for the next Philippine president who will build a train station like this 😀 (riding PNR is something I never tried, or plan to do)
Flying to Beijing from Shanghai was tempting. But I guess taking the night ‘D’ trains with soft sleepers that depart around 9:30 p.m. and arrive at 7:30 a.m. the next day was cheaper and time-efficient. Doze off when you board and wake up in your destination when the morning sets in. Plus, you get to see the countryside.
One way tickets cost about $110 each , and are best procured at your hotel if you don’t know where to buy it in the city. It’s not really cheap, but remember, you get to save spending for a hotel room by sleeping on the train.
If you want to take the train route to traverse the 1,305 km distance from Shanghai to Beijing (and back), best to wait until June 20, 2011 when the new high-speed railway service is inaugurated. The new line is expected to cut travel time from the present ten hours to just three hours, 58 minutes:)
China trains are very safe. There are metal detectors when you enter the terminal (and even at the subways). There are English translations for the announcements and everywhere I found out that the young Chinese know their basic English so there’s no problem.
You can choose from a few restaurants while waiting for boarding. I chose to hang out in this one because it’s got wifi 😀
The D trains normally have two double-deck beds that accommodate four people (two upper and two lower berths). Each room has a small table to put your food and drinks. Each berth is provided with a pillow, a sheet, a quilt and a hanger for your coat. There’s also a reading light and a small LCD TV with channel and volume controls.
There’s also a wash room and a choice between Western-type and squatting toilets. But no showers! Meanwhile, here’s how the dining area looks like:
The attractive stewardesses check the tickets and attend to passengers’ concerns