Beijing to Shanghai high speed train
The new experience I wanted to have on this trip to China was to travel on the high speed train from Beijing to Shanghai. I like train travel, I like being able to gaze out the window and watch the countryside go by.
My journey began with a taxi ride to the Beijing South Railway station which is where the high speed train departs from. The taxi driver was quite friendly and wanted to chat, unfortunately he spoke no English and I know about 5 words of Chinese so conversation was going to be somewhat limited! What really made me smile was that he tried to speak slower and louder, my response was the same, confused expression on my face. At the same time thinking, it doesn't matter how slowly you speak I still can't understand!
The Beijing South Railway station was new and built in an oval shape. This picture makes the waiting area even more rounded as I experimented with a fisheye setting on my camera.
I had decided to catch the 10am train to Shanghai, which would get me there just before 3pm.
The high speed train at the platform, all very sleek and modern.
I had decided to buy a ticket for the First Class carriage as these tend to be less crowded. This one was full, the most exclusive seats I discovered are actually the Business Class ones. With the First Class seats the stewards give you a free bottle of water and a small bag of snacks.
Review of the snacks, the nuts were nice, the fruit snack ok, and the crackers were fish flavoured and not nice!
I thought perhaps that the trip would pass through some scenic countryside, it turned out it didn't! The majority of the journey was through very flat country and with large expanses of fields. Interesting for someone from a small country not used to seeing large expanses of land, not that interesting from someone who lives in Australia and sees it whenever they travel to rural areas!
Fields close to Beijing.
I tried to get photos of some of the villages but the barriers separating the rail lines from the surrounding areas became solid concrete walls that blocked out the view! So no luck with the village pics!
Around Jinan, we did get a few elevated hills that broke up the flatness of the scenery.
The Jinan West Railway station platform area, it was our first stop. The station was built especially for the high speed train and was opened in June 2011, it's about 20km from the city centre of Jinan.
The second stop was at the Nanjing South Railway station, I think this is Nanjing as I spotted this tall building after we left the station.
Entering the Shanghai Hongqiao Railway station.
The Hongqiao Railway Station, it's quite a distance outside the downtown area of Shanghai, but easy enough to travel in. I caught the subway line 10 train which took me to a station just near (10 minute walk) to my hotel at the top of The Bund. The Hongqiao station was also built for the high speed train, so it's all very modern and easy to navigate, just very big!
My verdict on the train trip was that even though it's not particularly scenic, it is a really pleasant way to travel a large distance across China. The train is comfortable and it's a relaxing ride, the 2 train stations I had to pass through, although vast were easy to navigate (important as I don't speak or read Chinese!). At Hongqiao I decided not to try and attempt the ticket machines and lined up at the ticket window to buy my subway ticket. My pronunciation of the station I wanted to travel to apparently was dreadful as the clerk eventually asked in English "where do you want to go?!" I showed her the written version of the station name and received the required ticket!