The Night Train: Continuing the Silk Road Journey


The Night train is an essential experience to have while travelling in China.  Or so I kept being told.  We sprung for hard sleeper cabins but the night train was still the part of our Silk Road trip that I was least looking forward to. And by least looking forward to I mean that I had an actual panic attack in the hotel in the morning before we packed up for the train. 

I have taken night trains before in Europe and they were not pretty there.  Bathrooms on trains are pretty horrific (easily clogged and the train is you know, moving) I was not looking forward to the Chinese version.  I could not imagine that the whole train toilet would be improve by making it a squat toilet.  We were also sharing the room.  Not with strangers than God, but I am enough of an introvert that this was a major point of stress.  Oh, my God what if I snore or something!  My brain sometimes does not know when to shut up.

Reality was much more forgiving than the nightmare that had been going on in my head.  There was a (pretty damn clean) western toilet and a separate room with three sink.  Tooth Brushing was possible!  There weren’t too many others in the carriage aside from us and there weren’t very many rooms either.  Huzzah!

We entertained ourselves for a couple of hours by coming up with as many idioms in English that have to do with body parts.  I recommend this highly as a say to pass time.  You can pretty much randomly name any boy part and find a corresponding phrase.  I wonder what this says about English…


I slept astonishingly well.  So much better than I had anticipated and I was shocked.  I think that it might have been the swaying motion or the soothing white noise of the train itself.  It helps that the journey was relatively short.  We got on the train about 9:30 and were off by 7 in the morning. 

Pretty sure that the sheets in hotels and on the night train in China are washed with that acid that the Joker fell into in the 1989 movie.  All of my skin hates me right now.  Now, your skin might be battle hardened and rough enough for sandpaper but I basically have the most sensitive skin on the planet.  You know those weird hothouse flowers that only thrive and bloom and annoyingly specific temperature, humidity, and ground conditions.  My skin is basically like that.  68/20 degrees, humid, and with absolutely absolutely no irritants is the only time that it is happy. Anyway, long story short I have hives.

Final verdict.  If you have to take the night train in China splurge on the soft sleeper.  The hard sleeper had six people in the same place as we had 4 (and it wasn’t a large space) and much more mankiness.  It wasn’t a super unique experience from other night trains so if you have it on your sis tans have done a sleeper train before then you already know the drill.