Cultural difference #3: riding the train in China

Unlike cultural difference #1 and #2, this one, train rides and how people behave on the train in China is something I read about as opposed to something I noticed in my own travels. I never took a train in China, nor do I think I’d want to based on what I’ve read.

However, what I see on Youtube just doesn’t look as bad as what I expect considering the horror stories I’ve read.

But the videos seem tame compared to this description from Why China Will Never Rule the World:

The hard sleeper compartments contained six bunks and were packed with couples, families, babies, wandering toddlers, and men who would slurp instant noodles, down cups of baijiu (80-120 proof liquor), and then head to the passageway to smoke and spit on the floor….women hung their bra and panties from bars above the windows.

And it’s noisy and people are nosy. The paragraph I quoted from above concludes, “Perhaps it’s because the Chinese lead lives of such great tedium that they are such great busybodies.”

At least the soft sleeper is supposed to be better than the hard sleeper. Interestingly, the author of Why China Will Never Rule the World says that Chinese people don’t look out the window while the ariter of this article on Chinese trains says the opposite. But they both agree that a train ride is China is constant noise. And if you read on to page 3 of that article you learn, “I won’t try to sugar-coat what it’s like riding in standing room on a Chinese train. It sucks.”

If you’re white and in the standing area, you become famous and get to take pictures with the natives and help them with their English. I doubt I’d be in the mood for that.

Filed Under: Land travel

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  1. […] makes it sound not too fun: A 24 hour train ride from Beijing to Pyongyang (Chinese trains are said to be pretty bad). No communication with the locals, which would actually be very interesting I’m sure (I […]

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