Hong Kong by Train – Summer 2010

So once again, I had to leave the country to get on my next visa entry. It’s been so long that this is the last time I can leave the country and still come back. Hard to believe it will be a year already, but my visa expires at the end of August. I don’t even have a full two months on this entry. Since there is little calling on my time at the moment, and since cash is tight, I decided to take the train down. Buying tickets was quite easy. You can go to any of the four Beijing train stations or any of the specialty travel agent type places that just sell tickets and tell them what you want and they’ll see if they have it, and if they do, just give them cash. Right now, the trains are running on opposite schedules, Southbound trains on odd numbered days, Northbound trains on the evens. I paid just about 1400 RMB for both tickets, cheaper than the suggested price for the seats I got, but apparently not as cheap as you can get if you were willing to risk waiting a bit longer as they discount the tickets the closer you get to the day of travel. I got the “soft sleeper,” as mentioned before, which is a private room with 4 bunks. There are fancier “soft sleepers” with only 2 bunks and a private bathroom, and even worse “hard sleepers” with 6 bunks and no door to the compartment. Somewhere, though I didn’t see them, there should also have just been ordinary seats. The trip takes 25 hours down because there are a few stops at which you are not allowed to leave the train at all, and 24 hours up because it’s somehow non-stop…I took most of my photos through a very dirty train window, and managed very few photos indeed in Hong Kong proper because I was the guest of some family relatives who are fancy military officials and they insisted on taking care of me. Which was great, don’t get me wrong, and it rained a good bit while I was there. I’d like to think that since the focus this trip was so much on the journey, my photos of it are appropriate and that Hong Kong itself was but a brief layover between journeys.

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