Day 18 – Hong Kong/Train to Shanghai

Vibrant / Day 18 of 64 / 27 May

It’s our final day in Hong Kong, and we woke up at 7.30am to make it in time for our 1pm train to Shanghai. After getting ready, we left for Lo Wu MTR Station at around 9am. Lo Wu is the border control point with Shenzhen, and having an MTR line run directly to the border is testament to just how many people cross the Chinese-Hong Kong border daily. We reached Lo Wu at 10.20am. The customs complex is integrated with the station, so immediately upon tapping out of the paid area, we were able to clear Hong Kong immigration. Despite the morning rush, we managed to reach the Shenzhen side of the border by 11am.

In Shenzhen, we had our lunch at the KFC in Shenzhen Railway Station [深圳站, Shen Zhen Zhan]. We entered Shenzhen Station around 12pm and waited in the departure area for about an hour. There were many people waiting for the sleeper train to Shanghai, and many of them were carrying huge cardboard boxes. The Shenzhen-Shanghai route must be especially popular with merchants heading into Hong Kong to buy goods for resale to the mainland market.

The rush to board the train is insane. People stream in from all angles, trying to get pass the gantries.

At 1pm we finally boarded our train to Shanghai (CR T212,, 435 CNY/91 SGD/pax). To fit our budget, we had decided to book tickets for a “hard sleeper” instead. There are two types of sleepers on Chinese trains, hard and soft. Soft sleepers sleep four in a cabin and come with a door. Hard sleepers sleep six in a “cabin”, and there are no doors: each cabin is open to the corridor. I was on the bottom bunk, while Sam was assigned the top bunk. After boarding, we, almost immediately, went to sleep.

If I stretch my legs out far enough, I can trip people in the corridor. I guess this is the in-train entertainment.

Surprisingly, I found the hard sleeper more comfortable than the soft sleeper. Maybe it was because the hard sleeper felt more lively, with people walking around, having conversation, and listening to all kinds of music: everything from Chinese techno to Chinese opera music. And yet, somehow it never felt like others were intruding my private space. The hard sleeper offered a vibrant yet private space on the train.

As with most sleeper trains, food carts rolled down the aisles selling snacks, fruits, and packet lunches at affordable prices. When I woke up at 4pm to eat a sandwich, I realised the view had changed. Urban China had been replaced by rural China. Skyscrapers by two storey brick shacks, and paved plazas by seemingly endless farm fields.

This man will save your life on a long-distance sleeper.

Around 5.30pm, we had dinner. We bought some roasted beef cup noodles and mangoes from the food carts. And, after a tiring day of border crossing, we went right back to sleep once we were done with dinner.

Another sleeper bound for another Chinese city.

At around 9pm, we woke up once again for our second dinner. We headed for the restaurant car, only to find that it was closed for the night. The staff were having their dinner, and there were people sleeping on the tables, much like in the Vietnamese restaurant cars after opening hours. These people are usually passengers from the seating cars that use the restaurant car as a more comfortable sleeping area when it’s closed. Having been denied a full meal, we resorted to sharing a packet of fried noodles from the food cart before heading to bed after.

The restaurant car when it’s open.

Sam loves his noodles a bit TOO much.

When the cabin lights go off the train becomes dead silent, as people get their rest for the night.

– Ryan

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