Fast train to Beijing

From Sandra Kies

After a wonderful couple of days in the ancient city of Xi’an, we boarded the euphemistically called “fast train” to Beijing. Not that it wasn’t fast- at times we reached 303 km per hour, and it was a smooth ride. But we were not prepared for the number of stops, which meant the whole trip was over 6 hours. The train is very streamlined,clean and modern, with excellent bathroom facilities- something we have come to value highly during our trip. A cleaner comes through each carriage with a kind of swiffer mop every couple of hours, so it stays very clean. In many ways it is like being on a (very low flying) aircraft. There are smart young female attendants in caps and uniform, and even a service cart with airline type meals. Some of us bought beer and snacks. The Pabst brand beer was interestingly packaged as a commemoration of US support of China in World War, with the image a soldier and the logo “Yes we can.” The scenery flashed by- mostly fields of wheat and vegetables, interspersed with large towns, cities really, whose outskirts were all newly constructed high rise. We doubt if China has any small towns or villages left, and the piles of rubble everywhere suggest that the old is giving way to the new at a fast pace. We saw a lot of new freeways being constructed , and there were also several groups of cooling towers built close to the rail line- possibly nuclear plants.


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