Thanks for your help.
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My wife was in the ticket office today, and says the trip to HK is just 18 hours, so things have improved greatly.
You should have no trouble lugging a large suitcase on the train. Two or three may be a different matter. You can ask.
- Board Royalty
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The train ride was a little too long. I went, and I highly suggest flying after 18 hours in a train full of Shanghainese old men and ladies.
The cheapest way is to fly to Shenzhen or Guangzhou and take a bus or a train to HK. The bus from the Shenzhen airport is about 2 hrs that I remember, and the GuangZhou to Hong Kong Train is about 2.5 hours.
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Train travel is for "the experience" - a way to see many parts of China that you wouldn't normally see. I do this only when I have time to kill - don't mind going at a leisurely pace.
My last long-distance trip was 2yrs ago, Chengdu to Shanghai - 40hrs. I prepared myself mentally for the worst, but was actually pleasantly surprised. It wasn't as long and drawn out as I thought it would be. I was travelling by myself, but had my laptop with me - power sockets in each cabin - no problem for watching movies, etc.
Would love to do the Qinghai to t¡bet journey - (1 way is enough) - but only with a few friends together.
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Purchased the tix hassle free from the English language booth/counter at the Shanghai Railway Station.
It was a 19-hour journey each way. My husband and I booked a soft-sleeper cabin (RMB 800 each, therefore RMB1600 for the cabin). The beds weren't soft per se but were fine to sleep on. You get your own toilet (which is crucial).
We had our luggage with us in the cabin the entire time (they were large suitcases).
There is also a power point which was a nice bonus (for the laptop).
NOTE: the wankers are allowed to smoke in the train. Technically, they are only allowed to smoke at the 'ends' of each car but it's not like there are windows that can be opened or extra ventilation in place to handle the smoke.
So, if you are booking a soft-sleeper cabin, try to book one in the middle of the car (e.g. cabin number 4, 5 or 6. This helps to control the situation somewhat. I was in cabin No. 5 on the way to HK and the smoke was manageable (I did have to wear a mask here and there at times - strongly recommend bringing along an N100 mask). I was in cabin No. 1 on the way back to SH and it was hopelessly smoked out just about the entire time (in addition to being right next to the end of the car, cabin 1 is also next to a small staff room where I suspect some idiot smoked pretty much the entire journey).
I checked out the next car along which was a 4-bunk per cabin soft sleeper. It looked ok but there was only one shared toilet at the ends of the car! Needless to say, that toilet was a mess-from-the-seventh-circle-of-hell by the end of the trip. If at all possible, fork over the extra RMB and go the individual cabin with your own loo.
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- Wonder Wit
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That's true about the smoking, luckily we were towards the middle.
The dining car didn't want to accept HK$, but did eventually, for a fair-enough exchange rate (a 15Y beer cost HK$20).
The view was interesting but not spectacular. Glad I did it but next time I'll fly.
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