Trip in China by train from Guilin to Congjiang

Discussion in 'International Transport' started by xjtyou, 17 Apr 2015.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. xjtyou

    xjtyou Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    21 Jan 2015
    We had a trip in the south part of China during Easter vacation. We took the high speed train from Guilin North railway station to Congjiang to explore the very rural minority villages. The high speed rail line from Guangzhou to Guilin and then Guiyang was open just 3 months ago. From Guilin to Congjiang, the train went through very mountainous Karst landscape area, tunnel after tunnel, and most time the train was either in tunnel or bridge.
    The maxium speed of that train was 247km/h, shown in the pic, and it took about 53 minutes from Guilin to Congjiang (154km) with one stop between them. The ticket price of second class is 45RMB(4.5pounds) oneway. The train was quite full,some people didn't have seats including us. So we went to the buffet coach trying to find a seat, but found that they only offer food for takeaway. The crew were busy selling meals in the buffet coach, 30RMB(3 pounds)/meal, rice, some meat and vegetables!
    On our way back from Congjiang to Guilin, we got seats on the train, but the train was still very full, and some people stood in the coupling area of two coaches. The seats arrangement of second class was 3+2, and there were plenty of leg room even in second class, more comfortable than economic class on the plane.
    Pic1 The maxium speed
    Pic2 crew in the buffet coach
    Pic3 passengers without seats
    Pic4 Coach of second class
    Pic5 The waiting room of Congjiang station
    Pic6 Platform of Congjiang station
    Pic7 Our train CRH2A
    Pic8 Our train
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: 17 Apr 2015
  2. 185

    185 Established Member

    Messages:
    3,391
    Joined:
    29 Aug 2010
    Location:
    On a PNB
    Interesting, got plans to visit and do much travelling in a few months. My partner is from Jiangsu, so will probably start off in nearby Shanghai, aiming for Beijing and Lhasa on our travels.
     
  3. johnnychips

    johnnychips Established Member

    Messages:
    1,440
    Joined:
    19 Nov 2011
    Location:
    Doncaster
    If your partner speaks Chinese (as I'm not sure if (s)he is Chinese or a European visitor), you will find it very easy. If not, there are English-speaking windows at most major Chinese stations, but you really do have to know the number of the train you want to travel on to smooth things.
     
    Last edited: 18 Apr 2015
  4. xjtyou

    xjtyou Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    21 Jan 2015
    Yes, and always book the ticket online in advance,but the website is only in Chinese
     
  5. johnnychips

    johnnychips Established Member

    Messages:
    1,440
    Joined:
    19 Nov 2011
    Location:
    Doncaster
    I thought foreigners couldn't book tickets online for Chinese railways - I'm talking about the official site, not the commercial organisations who will buy tickets for you and deliver them, say, to your hotel.
     
  6. TheKnightWho

    TheKnightWho Established Member

    Messages:
    3,185
    Joined:
    17 Oct 2012
    Location:
    Oxford
    I'm jealous! I went the other way from Guilin to Guangzhou last summer, but the HSL wasn't yet open so I had to take the circuitous sleeper route via Hengyang. Doubly annoying given I was visiting Yangshuo, which at the time had no station and now has a direct link to Guangzhou in its own right along the new line! The minibuses were an experience though...
     
  7. The Gas Man

    The Gas Man New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Joined:
    19 Apr 2015
    The big question is, if I'm travelling alone, how easy is it to communicate in English on board the train?
     
  8. xjtyou

    xjtyou Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    21 Jan 2015
    Yes, foreigners can book ticket online too if they can read chinese. Our tickets were booked on the official website by a chinese friend. Yes, some travel agencies can book and deliver them to you
     
  9. Redonian

    Redonian Member

    Messages:
    71
    Joined:
    31 May 2014
    But only if they possess a Chinese bank card , which is highly unlikely
     
  10. TheKnightWho

    TheKnightWho Established Member

    Messages:
    3,185
    Joined:
    17 Oct 2012
    Location:
    Oxford
    This is the main issue. I had to get a Chinese friend (and later on hostel staff) to help me, and I then paid them in cash. The booking websites are quick and convenient, but they will take a booking fee that's usually US$5 or so. The only exception is trips to Hong Kong, where they'll take a US$30 fee on top, as it's only possible to buy those in Guangzhou or Hung Hom stations and they sell-out rather quickly. This might be out of date or incomplete, though.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Generally near-impossible, although hand gestures for things like buying food and the like generally work. Learning the numbers 1-10 would help, too.

    Most of the rest of the time there's very little reason to communicate with anyone else, though. There are ticket barriers at newer and large stations, and a member of staff will check tickets before boarding at those that don't. On the train you might have your ticket checked, but that doesn't really require any checking.

    Occasionally staff members might have rudimentary levels of English, so if someone can't communicate with you they might fetch someone who can.

    (This is from numerous trips around China with almost no Chinese knowledge.)
     
    Last edited: 20 Apr 2015
  11. xjtyou

    xjtyou Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    21 Jan 2015
    Some young people might speak a little English.
     
    Last edited: 20 Apr 2015
  12. johnnychips

    johnnychips Established Member

    Messages:
    1,440
    Joined:
    19 Nov 2011
    Location:
    Doncaster
    This really does help, and as the Chinese system is very logical, if you learn Chinese for '100' you can do from 0-999 quite easily. You probably already know that in a lot of areas the currency is referred to as 'kuai' rather than 'yuan' or 'renminbi'.
     
  13. LexyBoy

    LexyBoy Established Member Fares Advisor

    Messages:
    4,458
    Joined:
    23 Jan 2009
    Location:
    North of the rivers
    I'm surprised you didn't have seats, I thought CRH was all reservations only?

    What I found interesting is the difference with European HSR - it felt much more like a new-build mainline than high speed as we were stopping every 15 minutes or so! So although fast, the overall journey time isn't that fast on the route I know at least (Wuxi-Shanghai-Ningbo), only about 150 kph. Of course this is a very densely populated area so understandable that there are so many stops.

    Plus on HSR signs and automated announcements are in both Mandarin and English.

    The confusing part for Europeans is the waiting room where you must wait for your train to be announced, and only then can you proceed through to the platforms - usually only a few minutes before.
     
  14. Clip

    Clip Established Member

    Messages:
    8,529
    Joined:
    28 Jun 2010
    Some great pics there. Also some vital information given here as next year Im wanting to do the train from Beijing to Lhasa so looks like ill have to start to learn a bit of mandarin between now and then :)
     
  15. TheKnightWho

    TheKnightWho Established Member

    Messages:
    3,185
    Joined:
    17 Oct 2012
    Location:
    Oxford
    It's always confused me as to why they didn't build the Hangzhou Bay Bridge as a road-rail bridge. Diverting everything via Hangzhou itself seems like it'll be a big bottleneck in the future, considering every train to south China from Shanghai still has to go through it even though it's quite a circuitous route in some cases. It'd make much more sense to have the Shanghai–Hangzhou–Ningbo–Fuzhou–Shenzhen trains cut Hangzhou off and go straight to Ningbo over the bay, and to run a second service Nanjing–Hangzhou–Ningbo–Fuzhou–Shenzhen to keep Hangzhou's direct connection to the eastern seaboard.

    EDIT: Looks like I spoke too soon. http://www.shanghaidaily.com/metro/public-services/Hangzhou-Bay-to-get-2nd-bridge/shdaily.shtml
     
    Last edited: 21 Apr 2015
  16. xjtyou

    xjtyou Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    21 Jan 2015
    No, they sell limited number of seatless tickets, I think. As that railway line was opened not long time ago, so the train was not very frequent, and the train in that line was quite busy.
    Our train only had one stop between Congjiang and Guilin, so it took 54 mins for about 150km. Yes, the more stops the average speed will be slower.

    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Thank you!
    I think the train from Beijing to Lhasa is not a high speed one. an overnight sleeper train?
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    The cost of building a long bridge over the bay might be a consideration
     
    Last edited: 21 Apr 2015
  17. Clip

    Clip Established Member

    Messages:
    8,529
    Joined:
    28 Jun 2010

    It is yes but I doubt they will speak much English on it too though ;)
     
  18. TheKnightWho

    TheKnightWho Established Member

    Messages:
    3,185
    Joined:
    17 Oct 2012
    Location:
    Oxford
    Having done this trip, no they don't ;)

    With Chinese sleepers you'll find they'll take your ticket off you and give you a plastic card with your seat/bunk number on, which they'll then swap back towards the end of their journey. This is for their benefit as well as yours, so they can remind you that your stop is coming up soon. This is because they don't tend to do announcements on sleeper services due to them often stopping in the middle of the night etc. but with stops only every 30-60 minutes at the very quickest, there's plenty of time for them to get to everyone alighting at the next stop.

    I only went from Xi'an to Lhasa (still 29 hours!) but I imagine the experience was very similar to what you'll have: you'll find that you will probably get altitude sickness when the train climbs up to 5,000m or so very quickly as it approaches the Tanggula pass, but as you descend into Lhasa it will subside. I'd recommend bringing your own food for the journey, too, as the CR food can often be very expensive; a beer or two in the restaurant car is certainly quite fun though. However, there'll be loads of stands at stations selling pot noodle type foods (amongst others), and Chinese carriages will have boiling water taps at either end. Be warned that when I say boiling I mean it - don't make the typical Westerner mistake of thinking it's just a standard hot water tap and burn your fingers! Filling a thermos flask for your noodles can be very useful if you don't want to fill it straight from the tap.

    Otherwise, I'd just say sit back and enjoy the journey - it's long, but the views are absolutely stunning. If you want any other advice, just ask!
     
    Last edited: 23 Apr 2015
  19. Clip

    Clip Established Member

    Messages:
    8,529
    Joined:
    28 Jun 2010
    Nice one for the info. When we finally set a date I shall ba back to ask for more info for sure!!
     
  20. TheKnightWho

    TheKnightWho Established Member

    Messages:
    3,185
    Joined:
    17 Oct 2012
    Location:
    Oxford
    No problem. The one last thing that occurs to me is that you should buy an international multiplug once you get out there - unfortunately I don't think it's possible to buy them here; you can pick one up at any market. It's a multiplug that has a few sockets that can each fit Chinese, US, UK/Hong Kong and Euro plugs through some clever trickery, with a Chinese compatible lead on the end. This means that you'll be able to plug any stuff from home in, but can also make some friends with the locals who're always desperate to charge their phones, as well as any other tourists you might encounter. With plugs few and far between compared to the number of people on the trains (think 10 plug sockets for a whole carriage) they'll love you. Some of the younger (and occasionally older) ones will jump at the chance to practise their English with you too. Note this only applies to sleeper trains, which tend to be more social anyway - on the high-speed CRH services I think you'll have a socket per pair of seats even if the lowest class.

    I believe that said multiplugs are officially banned by CR rules as the plug sockets can only cope with 150W max, but I tended to hide it under a a bag or two in my compartment. However, chargers are very low power anyway, so I think it's more to stop people using things like hair dryers although it is a blanket rule. The compartments may or may not each have their own plugs in, depending on the age of the stock, and also on whether it's hard or soft sleeper. Soft sleepers are very likely to, but hard sleepers not so much.

    (I still take those multiplugs on holiday with me, actually, just with a suitable converter on the end - they've come in very handy even on short European trips.)
     
    Last edited: 24 Apr 2015
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page