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My Experience of China’s Hard Sleeper Trains

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When it comes to public transport in China, you have so many options! But for those of you who want to travel long distances in comfort and for a budget, the Hard Sleeper Train offers you the best of both.

Buying Tickets

You can buy tickets for these trains two ways: firstly going to any train station (not tube station) and buying them over the counter. If you are a foreigner in China you will need to bring your passport along with you, and find the ticket office. If your Chinese isn’t too great though, I would suggest booking your tickets through CTrip, allowing you to pre book tickets for trains, flights and even hotels! CTrip is perfect for foreigners buying train tickets in China, as it makes both booking and picking up tickets super easy! Once you have paid for your tickets, CTrip will email you both a booking reference and a ticket pick up number. You can give the ticket pick up number to the pick up desk in the train station, along with your passport, no need to speak any Chinese at all. Or for those of you who want to practice your Chinese, simply say 我要取票 (Wo Yao Qu Piao).

Depending on which train station you go to, you will want to arrive about 1 hour early, to ensure you can find the ticket office and platform waiting area. Some train stations will be massive and have very long queues, so allowing yourself this extra time is essential to avoid missing your train. However, if you have bought your tickets in advance (and collected them) then about half an hour should be enough time.

Remember: Tickets for traiens come out two months before they leave, so if you are planning a long journey, or including several people you will want to book in advance in order to ensure there are enough tickets.

Boarding

Once you’ve picked up your tickets you will need to find your boarding gate. Chinese train stations work more like airports than western stations, so you will not be able to wait on the platform for your train. On your ticket will be a few letters and numbers, for example K564. Throughout the train station you will see electronic notice boards which give all train information. You must match up your train number to the Boarding Gate, last time mine was A1/2, B1/2, and there you can wait until it is time for your train to board.

After this, you will know when your train is boarding because everyone will get up and crowd around the platform entrance- you must use your ticket to get through these gates. On your ticket, both your carriage number and seat number/position will be printed. The first number will be for your carriage and look similar to this: 7车, with your seat number and position as follows: 3下 (Bottom bed, no.3) 3中 (Middle bed, no.3) and 3上 (Top bed no.3).

Source: (http://www.topchinatravel.com/pic/customer-center/china-travel-tips-and-faqs/transportation-in-china/china-train-hard-sleeper-02.jpg)
Source: (http://www.topchinatravel.com/pic/customer-center/china-travel-tips-and-faqs/transportation-in-china/china-train-hard-sleeper-02.jpg)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seats/Beds

Each carriage consists of about 10 compartments, each including 6 beds. Passengers can also sit on small seats with tables at the end of each compartment, if you are not ready to climb into bed yet. By far the Bottom beds are the most desirable, giving both extra head room, and the use of a table. For both Middle and Top beds, there will be a ladder at the end of each set of beds which you can use to climb up. The Middle bed is the second best option, as it is less effort to reach than the Top bed, provides slightly more head room and allows you to look out of the window.

Once you have boarded the train, an attendant will come around and check your tickets, making sure you are in the right bed. They will swap your ticket for a boarding pass, and then swap it back at the end. This process both adds security to your journey and ensures you will be awake for your stop, as attendants will swap your ticket back to you about half an hour before your train arrives.

The beds themselves are small, but large enough to fit an average person inside them comfortably, for all the tall people out there, you may not be able to fit your feet on the bed. Each bed comes with a pillow, bag hook and duvet. Each mattress is no comfier than your standard Chinese mattress, but for one journey is perfectly acceptable. All carriages are air conned.

Facilities

  • air con
  • ‘smoking area’ -actually just a small ash tray stuck on the wall in between carriages
  • toilets- no toilet roll
  • hot water facilities
  • food/drink cart- including noodle pots, and soft drinks then a variety of strange Chinese snacks
  • no wifi
  • plugs- there are about 4 plugs in each carriage, which passengers are free to use as they wish, most of these are very poor quality though and my adaptor didn’t work in them (i tried all 4)
  • music- each train has a train attendant which will play random music through a loudspeaker on the train, although this is not played at a loud volume it will continue throughout the night

Negatives

The toilets on the train are all traditional squatter ones, which would be fine if they were cleaned regularly. As they aren’t cleaned at all, you will notice the smell gradually grows and starts to spread throughout the carriages.

On one of our trains, at about 9/10 o’clock a man came round trying to sell overly expensive sweats to passengers, he continued to shout about his product for about half an hour.

There is no toilet roll on the train, and i didn’t see anywhere to buy it once i was one, so make sure you’re prepared.

Unlike normal trains in China, these ones didn’t sell coffee pots.

 

Overall i would say the Hard Sleeper Train is about a 6/10, whilst it is not the most comfortable journey of your life, for the average traveller trying to not spend too much it is the perfect way to get around.

Dalian Blogs, Travel

Transportation in Dalian

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A friend once told me he’d love to live in a city by the sea where the winters are as cold and snowy as in Germany and a summers are as hot as Andalucía in Spain. An international city where he could find a good job related to the field of Biology and also stay in touch with his Russian routes would be ideal. I laughed at him back then, but now I have to say, I think I’ve actually found it! Dalian is a city full of many opportunities for everyone, especially for foreigners. Not only that, but it’s also really beautiful.

I this blog I thought I would explain the main transport links in and out of Dalian. It’s a pretty well connected with several different means of transport running form the city centre depending where it is your coming from and which exciting destination you’re heading to next.

Most people arrive her by air. Dalian Zhoushuizi International Airport has more than 30 international flight routes, including Munich, Frankfurt, Paris, Singapore and London. As well as more than 68 domestic flights, (including flights to the other 3 InternChina destinations Qingdao, Chengdu and Zhuhai)! With the airport just 16km from the city centre, getting to this awesome city couldn’t be any easier.

Airport – getting there

  • Taxi:
    It’s a mere 10 minutes by taxi to the city centre, costing roughly 20 CNY. The official taxi rank can be found on the east side of the airport.
  • Buses:
    • Airport shuttle bus: Regular shuttle buses run after every flight, taking passenger to the main train station as well as Renmin Road (city centre). Full route: Airport- Shahekou Railway Station – Wuyi Square-Civil Aviation Building – Shengli Square (Victory Square) – Renmin Lu. You can booked in advance from the airport ticket office on Zhongshan Lu, just opposite Xiwang Square. (5 Yuan per person)
    • Public buses: There are two options: 701 Bus – terminates at Zhongshan Square, or 710 bus – terminates at the Harbor; Sanba Square and Erqui Square. (1 Yuan per person)

Already in China travelling? Trains and long distance buses to Dalian are also very convenient.

  • Train: Dalian is well connected to the rail networks in China, trains from the city can reach any city in northeast China. Dalian has two stations: Dalian Central train Station has direct trains to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. It is located in the bustling commercial centre near Qingniwaqiao in the downtown area. Dalian North Train Station is located 30 minutes away from downtown and provides all High Speed Rail services to and from the city.
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  • Long distance buses: The city is situated at the tip of the Liaodong Peninsular and has two main highways that extend northeast to cover the peninsular. This makes the connections between Dalian and four other major cities, namely Shenyang, Liaoyang, Dandong, Qinhuangdao, very convenient. There are five long distance passenger bus stations across city.

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  • Boat: The Passenger Port is located at the northern end of Wuwu Lu in the eastern end of the Liaodong Peninsular. Passenger ships leave for Yantai, Weihai, Tianjin and Penglai Changhai County daily. Ships also sail for Incheon, Korea every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The Daein Ferry leaves at 18:00 and the Seacost Ferry at 15:30, the journey takes roughly 17 hours. Best get to the passenger port at least half an hour before your departure time to check in!

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China Business Blogs, Comparisons, InternChina News, Learn about China, Understanding Business in China, Understanding Chinese culture

Important policy changes in China for 2015

Climbing towards the top of the world is a long and difficult journey. There are many issues that follow a rapid growth such as environmental issues, the widening gap between rich and poor and many legal challenges. We would like to share with you some of the important changes that will take place in China from this year.

End of the one child policy

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At first this change was only implemented in some locations in China but from the end of 2014 its official for the whole country. The new policy allows couples to have two children if both parents come from a family of one child. This means that most of the Chinese can have more than one child because of the one child policy being in effect from 1981. It comes right on time to battle the slight decline in the labor force due to aging of the general population.

A finalized residence permits system

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Until now people were characterized by a dual-household system that made a person either an urban or an agricultural household owner. That meant that those Chinese people that wanted to migrate to another place, were not entitled to education, employment support, care for senior citizen or social welfare. The new system will help qualified migrants to change their provided benefits if they live in one place for more than 6 month.

Reform in the pension system

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The idea behind the reform is to combine the government staff, Party bodies and public institutions with the pension rules for enterprises and bring the 2 systems together. This was implemented because the previous public pension system used different methods of payment, accounting and management from the others and that led to many disputes.

Deposit insurance

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The People’s Bank of China ruled that all bank accounts with up to 500,000 Yuan (or 81,500$) will be insured. This move reassures people holding their money in the bank and protects them from loss if the bank suffers bankruptcy. It also shows that China has strong resolve to rebalance its financial system with more market oriented measures.

Transport – Changes to railway ticket sales

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Travelers can now buy tickets online, on their mobile phones or by phone 60 days before the departure of the train. These tickets can be fully refunded 15 days in advance of the travel. This makes it easier for travelers especially for the Spring Festival around Chinese New Year.

Rules on overseas shows

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Many foreign things are banned or delayed in China. These restrictions are usually not very straightforward and there was never a rule about the timeframe in which these foreign materials must be processed. From this year many of the US TV shows are likely to run on Chinese video websites at least 6 months later than their premiere in the US. In general the number of foreign TV series to be licensed in 2015 will probably drop to about 30% of the content.

Some of more recent and popular TV shows that were banned from China are The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife and more.

Stay updated with all the latest news from China on our Blog page!