Ah, feels like forever since I’ve updated! Happy belated Dragon Boat Festival! Because of the holiday Kevin and I actually had a few days off together (although we each had to request a day off to make them consecutive), so now I have a lot of stuff I want to write about! I’m glad we got the chance to get away and spend time together at least once this summer.. because I doubt it will happen again until fall. I have once again committed myself to a bunch of overtime in July, and we both have other projects and tutoring gigs that we’re working on in addition to work and studying Chinese. I figure I’ll work hard in July to help compensate for some of the ridiculous spending I did in June and come August I’ll only have 4 months of work left, so it’ll be downhill from there! Just gotta chug through July…
Anywho, we made note that Dragon Boat Festival was coming up months ago and swore to get our sh*t together in advance this time so we could enjoy some seamless holiday travel.. for once. Of course we didn’t and were still debating up until a few days before what we wanted to do with our time. At first we were thinking the beach-we are both so desperately missing water and blue skies- but China isn’t exactly known for it’s beaches and making the trip to the coast would have been super expensive, crowded, and possibly underwhelming scenery-wise. Next we thought about taking a Yangtze River cruise seeing as we’re a 2 hour speed train away from Chongqing, the jump off point for many of the cruises. We had been wanting to go to Chongqing anyway so it would have been a good opportunity. However, they also happen to be pretty expensive (if you want to be comfortable) and there are mixed reviews about how worthwhile the trip actually is. I’ll never know, but I will say that a lot of the time I find these “MUST SEE AMAZING WONDERS” to be not that memorable in the long run. Sometimes the things that empty your pockets the most stick in your memory the least, so we decided for now we could live without it. It turned out that there was a big music festival in Chengdu that weekend and we decided that would be an experience that would definitely be fun and memorable. Plus, anyone who knows me knows I love a music festival, and I was super excited to see China’s take on one!
After much back and forth we once again came to our holiday weekend plans the day that we wanted to leave. Will we ever get this holiday travel thing right? Spoiler alert- probably not. We finally decided to head to Chongqing Wednesday when I finished work until Friday night, and then come home and go to the festival on Saturday. Kevin went to get tickets while I had an excruciating demo lesson in front on my babies parents, ugh. Luckily, he was actually able to get us tickets, even at the very last minute! We were pumped to get on our 2 hour bullet train ride and be in Chongqing in time to experience some night life.
I could write all the details of the next couple of hours (the slowest Subway sandwich maker ever, the ridiculous route the taxi driver took, the rush hour traffic..), but long story short, we missed our train. By literally 5 minutes. Sigh. For doing so much traveling sometimes I think we really suck at it. The bad news was there were no more bullet trains that night. The good news was that there was a 10 hour overnight one leaving in about an hour that they could transfer our tickets to. Is that good news or bad news? I’m not sure. I’m going with good because the money we paid for the train we missed wasn’t completely wasted, we didn’t have to pay for a hostel that night, and now I get to write a blog about our experience on the sleeper train in China! Silver lining!
So, the train left from the east railway station which I guess is new? It is much nicer than the north station which is a hot, crowded mess, but a convenient 20-minute walk from our apartment. Getting out east was a total pain! The subway runs directly into the north station but the east one was about an hour bus ride from us. I never want to take a train leaving from here again! I believe the tickets were 99RMB ($15) for the speed train, but we upgraded 35 RMB a ticket to get a sleeper on the slow train. No we did not have any desire to repeat our overnight in hard seats experience from the last holiday. We were thankful we were able to score beds even with our poor planning… but that’s probably because everyone else took the 2 hour trip.
My last experience with overnight trains was in India so I was bracing myself for a hard, cold night, probably with the lights on at all the worst times. When I walked onto the Chinese train and realized they provided pillows, sheets and blankets my mood immediately changed! Talk about luxury! I could have/may have squealed. I think I was actually proud of us for saving money on the hostel.
Kevin on the other hand.. was not impressed. I think his previous train experience was a bit different from mine!
My thoughts about Chinese sleeper trains is that they are quite alright! Ours was reasonably clean, as comfy as a hard bed in a inexpensive train can be, and dark and quiet. I was immediately able to fall asleep.. and woke up in Chongqing!
Which is what I will write about next time! Stay tuned. Xo