The overnight sleeper train to Chengdu

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The overnight sleeper train to Chengdu

Perhaps it is because it was our second train journey in China or possibly because of the later arrival time (which meant we didn’t need to be up at 5am) but whatever it was, the trip from Xian to Chengdu seemed an easier journey than the one from Beijing to Xian.

As in Beijing it is important to make sure you know the number of the train (as destinations are all written in Chinese) but as we were not disembarking until 11.30pm we decided to buy some snacks for breakfast.

On the train from Xian to Chengdu with our new friend AwayWe had already struggled to find anything appropriate at the Muslim markets in Xian but the stall in the waiting room had everything we needed – crisps (Chinese versions of pringles!), chocolate biscuits, cheese biscuits to eat and water and beer to drink.

We settled into our room, as normal we had 4 beds in a compartment for 5 of us. We actually had a 5th bed in a separate cabin but preferred to sleep all together. As we squeezed our luggage into the shelves above the bed we attracted the attention of a young student, (‘English’ name Away) with her mother and father. They laughed that we had so many children and so many people in one cabin.

As we had already eaten we didn’t eat on the train this time and instead spent the time reading and talking. The train was a little stuffy and we kept our door open. It was good to watch the coming and goings from the other cabins.

We slept surprisingly well. The train was very bumpy and every so often there would be a large jolt but it felt like we were moving relatively slowly and quickly everyone dropped off to sleep.

We ate our snacks in our cabin in the morning and around 10 there was a knock at the door and our new friend Away came in. She had spent time studying in Brighton and was now heading for university, having passed her key exams, to study media with a view to becoming a journalist.

She brought with her some local Chinese snacks (stone bread, chicken feet and tofu sticks) and we returned the gift with a stick of Brighton rock (which despite her trip there she had not tried). She sat in our cabin and we had a pleasant conversation about all manner of things including study, jobs, children and families. She looked through all of our 500 photos we had taken so far in China and was soon joined by her father who turned out to be a photographer with the army. He took a few photos of the children and our family with Alway.

Finally the ticket collector returned as we were close to Chengdu and they returned to their cabins but not before swapping contact details. It was really lovely to meet real Chinese people and understand a little more of their lives.