China trip report 27 March to 7 April 1998


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Summary: A trip to Jingpeng pass, Fuxin, Yebaishou and Chengde. A lot of steam engines.

This trip was done before we could speak, understand or read much Chinese. Everything worked fine, without the use of guides.

28.3. 98

Arrival Beijing airport 3 hours late. The day train to Chifeng was thus not reachable any more. Took a taxi to Beijing Bei station. Soft sleeper ticket from black market in front of station 200 Yuan. (instead of officially 120). Two lower berths in the middle of the car. Ideal. We left our baggage at the left luggage office at the station. Took a trip to the station toilet. Never seen a station toilet that clean in China before.

Beijing main station: They sell the new time table effective from April 1, but the English/Chinese version is only available for 1997-98. A large advertizing table at the station shows the X2000 high speed train delivered from Sweden. We got a platform ticket and entered the platforms. Locos seen at Beijing main station include DF11 0023 (built 96, 0034 (built 97), 0060 (built 97), DF4D 0041, 0152, NY7 0019 on train to Yinchuan together with DF4 1658, NY6 0007 ex works arriving with train from Qinhuangdao. Station is undergoing renovation / repair. Electrification is progressing very slowly. Most trains had either 15 or 18 cars. It is impressive to see how many high speed diesel engines they have now. Something is happening to train speeds in this country...
The conductors are as nice as before. We flirted with a conductor girl on the train to Jinzhou, it nearly ended with us going in the wrong direction. (Afterwards we found that Jinzhou is not a bad place for steam!)

We then took the metro to Beijing Bei again, ate dinner at a tiny restaurant, 26Y for 2. Bought some fruit (oranges, apples) and some soda water for our trip. I thought there would be no fruit in Inner Mongolia, but later found there was enough to get out there in the wilderness.
Night train Beijing Bei - Chifeng. Loco = DF4 0404, later 0383. We slept extremely well, after the flight and the long day. I think we were sleeping from 20.30 to 5.50 when the conductor came in to awake us just before Chifeng.
 

29.3.98

Sun, partly clouded. Morning -5, afternoon about zero. Some snow still lying where the wind has blown it (eastern slopes).

Taxi Chifeng-Reshui. Found same driver as last year, Mr. Jin Lung Sai from Chifeng, Car reg no D-16792, Phone number 0476-8355360. Fast but safe driving, not much more than 3 hours to Reshui. Road had some winter damage here and there. Many places the street was under maintenance, all work done manually. The landscape looked frozen, like on Iceland. Very little vegetation, and litle villages. So different from the main flat land in China.

Hotel at Reshui on right hand side of road, with red Chinese lamps, opposite the Telecom building (and hotel). 500 Y double room for 3 nights (the fourth night cost 160Y). (In later years, I got the room for 100 and even less). Not many guests, friendly people. They had a policeman at the hotel, so he registered us. I showed my photo license from last year, which had an immediate good effect, as he probably contacted the local taxi driver later that day. Phone number to hotel 0476-5101101 or 5225033. Nice from the outside, nice stairs, but the bathroom was horrible. Water only in the two bathtubs, and the cranes were looking like having been mounted outdoors for 15 years. But things at least worked. Of 3 lamps in the room one worked. Clean room at least, and warm enough, even if they switch off warmth during the night.

Linesiding on slopes near Reshui during afternoon.

9.30 6517 + QJ going east with freight (seen at Yushoudi)
10.30 2*QJ freight eastbound
12.12 Passenger west with 6631. Chased on foot between levels 2 and 3.
12.50 Liudigou freight eastbound 6998+2645 both clean machines
13.25 Reshui westbound freight 6274+6580. Photo from level 2 to river bridge at Reshui, then passing on level 2. (6274 relatively dirty. It turned out that it had been newly painted when we saw it again on 2.4.98).
15.10 Reshui 6389 light engine west
16.00 Reshui 2706 very clean +6876 freight east (6876 was newly painted on 1.4.98).
18.40 Reshui 2*QJ west freight
We had a good time, mostly on level 2, chasing trains from level 2 to 3, or even taking them in the curve above the Reshui viaduct on level 1, and then again on level 2 and 3.

Local taxi driver Mr. Wu from Reshui with his yellow mini-van arrived and discussed his service. He has recommendations from several Europeans and got our recommendation as well, after his services. He wanted 400 Yuan per day, got him down to 200. He takes pictures of trains himself and got quite enthusiastic during the later days. His phone number: 0476-5101226. The car is old and in very bad condition, nearly a wreck, but it worked. And he knows the places, as we saw later. He speaks only Chinese. I learned lots of Chinese words from him. He got the train times for us for tomorrow without us even asking for that service.

To bed at 21.00
 

30.3.98 Reshui

Sunny, partly clouded weather, about -5 Celsius at dawn, about +10 afternoon. Linesiding on foot near Reshui. Start from hotel at 6.30.
6.00 freight QJ+QJ west
7.25 passenger with QJ 6578 east
8.40 7040+6577 freight west
9.40 6998+6301 freight east, crossing in Galadesitai. (6998 very clean, 6301 supershine engine with railing and brass letters, but not very clean)
10.00 6135+7137 freight west, heavy
11.25 Liudigou 2645 (clean) eastbound freight
Invited by Liudigou personnel to lunch after bringing pictures from last visit in December. Good! Fish, fish soup, rice, beer, tea. We came at exactly the right time for lunch. Then we were shown how they operate signals and switches.

13.35 Liudigou 6389 west freight, crossing at Shangdian
14.10 Liudigou 6996+6638 east freight
15.50 Liudigou 6580+2706 east freight
Walked down to Reshui through SanDi and along road. Many animals outside. Walked into some back streets and saw how people repair the walls around their houses. Dried mud reinforced with straw.
18.00 Reshui 7012+6763 east freight
18.00 Reshui 6301+6998 west freight Taken at river bridge. with the local children standing around us. Some problem going to the right photo places because of irrigation ditches full of water, and wet ground around. We had to find places to jump over.

Some German Videots from a large group travelling with a bus behaved like they owned the world here :-( We probably were in their way.

Dinner at hotel. We order food by our English-Chinese dictionary and by walking into the kitchen and pointing on food we like to have. This works fine. The girls here are doing gardening during the day, planting or replanting fir trees. Some trees look like they die every year. (In fact, they replanted in Daban depot, and said that most trees die during the winter). Outside of hotel the locals sell locally grown fruit (apples) and vegetables. Got some apples. Otherwise sodawater, instant soup, biscuits for breakfast and lunch from local shops. For the worst case, they have even gloves here that match my hands...

Children greet us everywhere (hello, laowai!)
 

31.3.98

Chasing trains with Mr. Wu taxi.
Got up at 6.30, start at 7.
Morning light frost, later about +10 degrees. Sun. Very much activity on acres. People, horses, donkeys.
6.50 freight east 2*QJ Reshui. We were too late for this one. Tried to get train times at Galadesitai, but no luck, went to Shangdian. Mr. Wu drives all these dirt roads, even the bad one to G. station. Through irrigation ditches, and everything. Got times at Shangdian. At Xiakengzi we saw a train coming. Running over bridge, and to curve, Just in time, then running one level up and again just in time for another passing.

8.00 Xiakengzi 6517+2645 freight east
9.30 Xiakengzi 2*QJ west light engine
Drove down to first bridge below Xiakengzi. Much activity with horse carts, donkey carts etc. on fields. Got a nice heavy working train at bridge and curve after, chase to 90 degree bridge where we had another passing by.
9.30 Xiakengzi 6998+6110 east freight
Taxi to Jingpeng. Hopeless road. They are building a new road. And to the station it is more or less sand, and including a river crossing. No chance to chase trains from here. Station is in desert like terrain. Sand all over the place.
2706+6580 freight eastwards arrive 10.18, go 10.45
11.12 6735+6577 arrive light engine from east
All locos take water here. They also clean out some slags. 6577s tender was loaded with a whole truckload of vegetables! Mr. Wu was in Jingpeng to get processed one film. He then got us and we went to Shangdian.
Shangdian 13.02 passenger west with 6631
Shangdian 14.00 6389+7137 west freight (met both at level crossing SanDi and Shangdian)
Shangdian 14.10 6763+6638 freight east (steam until tunnel entrance, then again passing at SanDi)
Below Galadesitai station 15.40 6998+6301 freight west with 4 cabooses (many westbound trains had more than one caboose!) Heavy working even down here.
Reshui 2*QJ down with freight.
Good photo position just east of Galadesitai station. We went home on foot from Galadesitai station, releasing Mr. Wu at 16.00. He suggested to start at 6 tomorrow.
I took a haircut at a local barber shop here. Maybe it was her first time to cut the hair of a laowai...
 
 

1.4.98

Jingpeng pass linesiding with Taxi Mr. Wu.
Sunny. Start at 6.00. Afternoon temperatures allowed T-shirt! Resulted in sunburn. But rivers are full of heavy ice, which makes it easy to cross them.

6.41 Shangdian passenger east with 6631, taken again at SanDi. Mr. Wu is an artist when it comes to chase cows into the foreground for pictures of trains! Passenger train left five minutes before schedule from Shangdian.
7.25 Reshui 6577+6876 (both locos clean) west freight, chased to SanDi.
8.10 Shangdian 6517+6110 freight eastbound
10.45 HaTaShan 6388+7012 (both locos very clean) freight westbound
Nice position, we got the upgoing train first in the curve at river bridge, then on upper level.
11.20 HaTaShan 2706+6996 freight eastbound
11.35 Xiakengzi 7137+6576 west freight
Invited to dinner by railway workers at HaTaShan (the station on level 3, 2 km east of 90 degree bridge) after delivering pictures from last time. Mr. Wu drove to Jingpeng to get processed his film.
12.50 Xiakengzi 6763+7143 east freight
13.20 Xiakengzi west one QJ light engine.
Visited elementary school at Xiakengzi, invited by teachers to go into every room we wanted, including class rooms. Very friendly people! They have 10 teachers and about 100 children. Obviously no school uniforms here, just a few with a red scarf. Opposite to standard in towns.
14.20 Xiakengzi east freight 6828 + 7002, taken right behind school, in double curve. Good position, even against the sun. Chased to Shangdian, arrive there 1504.
15.30 Shangdian 6301+6998 light engine westbound
16.40 between tunnels west of Shangdian 6577+6876 with eastbound freight, very heavy, locos often missing step. Locos left some empty coal cars at Shangdian. (There is now standing a whole empty train with C62 cars, as is as Yushoudi). Got the train again leaving Shangdian, and then at level crossing at SanDi.
Liudigou 17.30 QJ+QJ start freight westbound (we only saw it from a distance). According the schedule there should have been one more train at about 18 from Reshui, but there was none. The eastbound trains all ran about 2 hours before schedule. So we started questioning the overall usefulness of getting train times at all. Probably it is only useful to know how much traffic is which way.

No train in the early evening, so we got to the hotel and had a nice dinner.
 
 

2.4. 98 Reshui to Daban

Taxi with Mr. Wu to Daban, start at 6.15. (He was late, probably technical problems starting the car). One westbound train seen, heavily working at Yushoudi. (7012 + ?). Then to Linxi. This is the most dirty and smoggy town I have ever seen! A cement factory west of the town spreads grey powder all over the place. Horrible!
From Linxi dirt road and more and more desert like terrain. Another train passed near Pingdingmiao at a large river bridge with sand dunes and mountains in the background. Nice place, but locos not working (line heads down here westwards). Many people riding horses. River had quite a lot of water, and ice floes on it. Dirt road really bad, sometimes covered by sand blown. According to other writers, this is a military area, but we saw no signs of any police. Just a lot of cows and horses, bushes but no grass. Some irrigation ditches. A Mongolian with horses invited us to ride.

Arrive Daban railway town at 9. Paid for trip 200 Yuan. Mr. Wu had hoped we would follow with him further to Chifeng, but here we want to be left alone again. Leave baggage at station. No left luggage office, but staff just stored the stuff. When coming back after noon nobody was here, but finally the people in the signal room got our stuff. Nobody wants any pay for the service. All extremely friendly.

To depot on foot, 1 km west of station. Town around station is railway people only, Daban itself is 3 km southeast of station. Very friendly people at station and depot. Visited depot. Question was if we should enter through main gate, possibly be stopped by a watchman, or if we should go in from the line or back side, and directly to the head office. Did the latter. Entered from line, after pictures from outside. Directly to director. Friendly man, proud of the well run depot. Visit costs 100Y per person. Got even receipts for that. Then they invited us to tea and then showed us around. Not too dirty place, only three years old. Line was opened on 1 December 95. They had even a sports place with basket ball equipment. Planted trees, but they did not look well, were partly dug up for replanting. Probably they do not survive the winter storms when they are razed by ice crystals. We got lunch right after, at the guest canteen (paid 30 for it, for us two), and then we were left to walk around as we wanted to. Only the workshop not allowed (hard hat needed). But not much activity in workshop. 1 QJ (1760) which came out after an hour, and a steam crane which also left the workshop this afternoon.

Typically 10 to 15 locos at depot, varying. 2 steam cranes. Locos seen:

1760 minor overhaul at workshop here
2645 (arriving from Chabuga with passenger, 6576 (very bad condition) taking over to Haolokou
2706
6110 very clean
6274 very clean, newly painted
6301 (brass bands, railing, cabside plate, brass numbers, but not very clean)
6302 (guesting from Baiqi) 6351 6356 6358 6389
6576 6577 6580
6638 6653 6687
6735 6763
6828
6996 6998
7002 7007 7012 7040 7041 7063
7143
7063 shunting at station, very clean, special painting.
Verified with depot staff that the following not seen locos are still working here: 6125, 6911, 7009, 7010
Locos waiting for heavy repair: 7037, 7105, 6230, 6630, 6632, 7048.
Dumped locos at depot: One crashed loco without number, having been used as stationary boiler. Coaling is done by steam crane. Large dump of coal here. Some workers sifting coal, in order to get larger pieces for some special purpose.

Locos come in, then they get coal and water and sand, slag is removed, and then they get a full check of all the moving parts.
Loco drivers and firemen check out the moving parts of their engines, but all other cleaning seems to be done by shed staff. They clean the wheels, and sometimes even other parts, with steam. But all cleaning is just outside. It is not quite clean on the cabs...
One freight from west with one loco front first, one tender first! One freight to east included about 10 ballast cars and about 120 workers with showels.

Station has light signals, not semaphore (as also Jingpeng). Turning of locos by triangle. We joined 2645 for turning. I was even allowed to be on the steam crane when it was in action, and allowed both on and under locos. Dinner at canteen, pointing out in the kitchen what we wanted. We slpet in the depot dormitory.
 

3.4.98 Daban to Tongliao

Sunny day, temperature about zero at dawn, maybe 10 to 15 plus in afternoon. Up at 5.00. Looking around in depot. About 10 to 12 QJ here in the morning. Breakfast with loco drivers. They even drove us to the station with a lorry (and some of their staff too).
Got hard sleeper tickets (145 for the 2 of us to Tongliao), access to platform before other passengers, access to signalling room etc.

Passenger in with QJ6631, continued east with 2645, 7049 taking over at Chabuga.
At Kailu they load crude oil. This may be the origin of the oil trains going west on Jingpeng pass. Just before Lindong they were laying track for a new station (Chaganhada?). Probably traffic is increasing and they need more places to cross trains.

Footplate ride from Lindong (water stop) to Chabuga and the last few stations into Tongliao. Took over fireman's job between Lindong and Chabuga. kept up pressure, but there were some smiles about my firing... There were seven people on the loco, the driver, 64 years old, a younger driver, probably under training, assistant, fireman, and a young boy under training as fireman. And we two. Loco did not work hard, Line went a little up and down, but quite flat, and speed never more than about 60. No speedometer on loco. The line would allow higher speeds, so why do they not run faster?

Locos seen on the way include 6853, 6125, 7112, 3073, 6302, 6079, 1760 (all near Chabuga). One dumped QJ at Chabuga (damaged in a crash).

Landscape is interesting with some mountains from Daban to Chabuga. After that flat and desert like. They are adding new sidings at several places, amongst others 10 km west of Chabuga.

Luxury Hotel 50 meters to the right of station at Tongliao. Good service, everything works, 300 Yuan. To bed at 21.30
 

4.4. Tongliao - Xinlitun - Fuxin - Yebaishou

Out of hotel at 5.30. Too early for breakfast, but this is our standard. Got two hard seat tickets to Xinlitun after some misunderstandings with the ticket counter people. Obviously when I tried to get a ticket to Yebaishou, which involves two different trains, they could not do it. Or maybe she thought we should buy a better place than hard seat... Had a little stay on the overpass bridge over the railway station just north of the station, but saw only diesels passing during the 15 minutes or so. Then on the train, which was quite full. Under our seat slept a boy looking like a gangster. He also started fumbling with my firendÕs video bag which was standing on the floor.

They were constantly going through the train and selling food and beverages. No problem if we had forgotten food. But we had enough soda (JianLiBao) from the station kiosk.

Trains from northeast arrive with good looking DFH3. Seems to be roughly the same type of loco China delivered to Tanzania-Zambia Railway.
To Xinlitun with DF4. Flat line, nearly desert, sandy and dusty. On line to Xinlitun seen QJ 6538, 6885, 2063, 6537. Seen about 4 freights each way during our two hours train ride, 7 with single QJ, one with DF4. JS8202 shunting at Zhangwu. Depot there has standing about 10 QJ in steam, 10 QJ dumped, 1 DF4. At Xinlitun seen both green and orange DF4 on passenger trains, one QJ at high speed south to north through station with freight. We had 20 minutes to change trains, and I obtained two tickets hard seat to Yebaishou without a problem, even if there was a queue. Station personnel were friendly and helpful, even if they did not speak English. They have a wooden overpass over the platforms, good position to take photos for an hour or so.

On train to Fuxin-Yebaishou was a soft seat car, in front of diner. Cost hard seat ticket plus surcharge 15 Y to pay to conductor. Here is the Chinese upper class, with mobile phones and other beepers. But its a pity they are not following up the ban on smoking in the car.
First 25 km on the way to Fuxin nice landscape, some hills, some gradients, double track line. A good photo position is some 10 km out of Xinlitun. Seen QJ 6476, 6341 on freights.
Fuxin: Very polluted city, locos very dirty, too.
JS 6479, 8235 shunting.
QJ 6708+6478 on eastbound freight
Depot full of QJs, one SY.
SY0035 just west of Fuxin at power station
QJ 6487, 6725, 7117, 6486, 6375, 6479,6753, 6726, 6655(?)
Just west of Fuxin a flat area starts where there are lots of small coal mines. Just a little tower, less than 10 meters high, and a little dump of stones and coal. Maybe it is only a few meters down to the coal. Otherwise there were all these greenhouses, built of mud, and covered with plastic, and straw mats during the night. On some fields it started being green, but otherwise spring had not started yet.

Local passenger Beipiaonan to Beipiao with QJ
Local passenger YiXian to Shenyang with QJ from YiXian.
JS8236 shunting at Chaoyang
Landscape very polluted by plastic bags flying around everywhere. Even inside the city of Chaoyang. Horrible.

Yebaishou seen QJ 3250, 3345, 6411, 6412, 6416, 6488, 6753. All passenger trains seen here DF4.
JS 8237, 8238 shunting.
Friendly staff at station. No problem to run around over the rails. Got freight train times for before noon hours: 7.20, 8.20, 11.45 and 13.20 trains to Lingyuan, 7.45, 9.25, 11.05, 12.05, 13.13 trains to Chifeng. The following day showed that not all trains run on Sundays. (There are more trains later during the day, no problem to get the times from the people with a red hat at the station.)

Night at Jian Ping hotel, 1 km from station, to place with a horse memorial in the middle of town, and then right 100m. No warm water, low standard, high price (336Y). Dinner at small local restaurant. We even found the cinema, opposite the hotel, but no need to see films here.
 

5.4.98 Yebaishou, Shinao, Chengde

About zero degrees at dawn, T-shirt temperature in afternoon. Nobody available in the early morning (5.45) for checkout. So we left without our depositum of Y30. Bicycle taxi to station (3 wheels, cab in the back), dumped our baggage there at the left luggage office. On line to Lingyuan one train with DF4 + QJ3339 as banker. JS 8238 also returned from banking service to Hongshi. On Chifeng line three trains before noon with single QJ. Took taxi to dam near Shinao, 9 km outside town. Taxi drivers wanted 50Y, got trip for 40, but it should be possible for 20. Lot of traffic on road, so no need to order taxi to wait or get down later. Really nice landscape, with high mountains, and echo from trains. Locos work very hard, speed down to not much more than 6 km/h. The almond trees around here just start with their first flowers. Everything else is still dry. The farmers however start irrigation of their fields by digging ditches from the river. Cows grazing near the river (but there is not much grass). Very much dust from cars along the road. Everything seems to be totally dry. Quite different from November with snow.

We also went into Yebaishou shed, from a back door near a level crossing where the Chifeng and Lingyuan line part. Just did as if we belonged there, and all people greeted us heartily. No problem to take pictures. Maybe directors are not on job because it was Sunday. They have a turntable, but many places around it occupied by dumped locos. They also have a high coal silo, so it takes a minimum of time to fill coal onto a locomotive.
Seen locos QJ 3186 4 axle tender, 3339 (tender 4 axles, 3340 4 axle tender, 3343, 3345, 6479, 6409, 6411, 6412, 6416, 6479 (Fuxin loco, dirty), 6726, 6727, 6728, 6677. The seen 33xx locos all had Yebaishou marks on their tender, 6409-6416 also.
Dumped locos at Yebaishou shed: QJ 1861, 2000 (ex supershine), 2513, 3279, 3320, 3335, 3338, 3342, 6709.
Short trip in town. Got some pineapple, oranges and bananas. The Chinese seem not to eat bananas as we. But all the dealers think we are VERY interested in bananas. Maybe they consider us to be monkeys. Got some tea in a kiosk right outside the station. Tea is served for free. So I bought some sodawater to have something to pay for. That cost only 2 for a can of ÒLycheeÓ. So now we know the real price! A man was playing a Chinese violin on the station place. Seems like old age people do this. Several other old men were sitting around him, having a good time.

To Chengde with train at 15.58. DF4. Soft seat car as yesterday. Passed 2 SY at Lingyuan, no steam seen elsewhere.
Night at Huilong hotel. Nice hotel still, end everything works. Hot and cold water! We only needed long time to make staff understand that we wanted a room with an EVEN number ( these rooms are on the station side!).

6.4.98 Chengde

Sunny day, warm. T-shirt only in afternoon. Out at 5.45, bus no. 5 to steel works depot. (We saw a SY coming with an empty train to town, and returning empty. So we concluded there was nothing to pull up the grade). Walked into steelworks depot, took some pictures, were thrown out by friendly railway police. Got instead a footplate ride on a JS the whole morning. The worst when it came to safety was the total disinterest for a freight car with totally worn out brake shoes. The brake was smoking of heat, brake shoe maybe 5 millimeters thick. I reported to the driver, but no interest at all. They only drive the trains on this branch line, and probably hope China Rail will do the repairs.
Can ride up the pass. Dramatically hard work on train up the grade from Chengde. Full power out of the station. Steam pressure was about 12 Bar, but raised fast during the ride. Even up to the banking station it is a hard climb, partly done with full regulator. Then up the grade with the bankers. Starting the train was done by giving steam, and then trying front, then reverse, then front again until the train got rolling. Full speed in the valley, then up the grade. Driver worked much with sand. Loco working with full regulator, but train nearly stalled in upper tunnel. In the tunnels they close all windows of the loco, but air gets very very bad anyway, and we were on the front loco! We had planned to take a ride on one of the coal or iron ore cars, but after this cab ride we were glad we did not try. We got off at the top.
It paid off to know how many engines were up and down, so we could walk through the tunnels and have the up trains on both sides. (30 promille on both sides of the top!)
Seen JS 5132 with China rail marks, otherwise steel work locos JS 6227, 6218, SY 1765, 1422
Up trains from Chengde at 9.30, 11.00, 12.40, 14.00
Down trains to Chengde at 7.30) only JS6218 light engine, 9.30 (3 locos), 12.10 (2 locos). The first flowers came out on the top of the mountain. some trees (willow) turning green, and almond trees flowering all over the place. We still saw the people collecting coal dust from the line. There is especially much of it in the tunnels and between the tunnels. Locals use the tunnels regularly, they even carried flashlights. We not. The upper tunnel is quite dark in the middle... As I had had many winter pictures and videos, I stayed between the tunnels. A video got really nice, as speed here is at a real minimum, and the echo is good!

Visit to Chengde depot in afternoon. They confirmed that there is no China Rail steam left here. Only on steel works branch. Shunting at Chengde station today was done by BJ.

Flowers were already coming out here and there. Trees were nearly green. Just days to go. And the afternoon was warm. We remained in town.
 

7.4.98 Chengde-Beijing

Left hotel at 5.30. Hard seat on the full morning train. Breakfast at dining car. Almond trees on hills in full flower. No steam seen at all. All traffic seems to be BJ (most double traction on freight) and DF4B, green and orange (passenger). A man in the train drank a whole bottle of rice wine, and after that started fumbling around with his knife. So I found the train policeman who took him out. He returned an hour later, alittle more quiet, but then started smoking two cigarettes at a time. People in our car obviously greeted the initiative to get him out of the way...
The fields turned green near Beijing. Nature is reallyt making progress here. Then we came into Beijing, passed the depot. DF10 0001 and many other machines standing there. Some of the German delivered diesel hydraulics NY6 and NY7 are ex works, some seem to be dumped.
 

Summary information

The whole trip was totally improvised. No advance reservations short of the last night, which was included in the flight ticket, no guide. We were two people. We had absolutely no problems. Lost time because of lack of guides or other problems was a maximum of 5 minutes a day. But with a guide you loose a lot more because guides want to organize things through the official channels, and make it ÒcomfortableÓ, with lunches in restaurants instead of outside etc. Railway staff are very friendly, especially after showing them pictures from earlier trips and the railways of your home country. Absolutely no problem to get hard seat tickets. Upgrading is possible with conductor sitting in YZ car next to dining car (if available space). We strongly recommend Mr. WuÕs taxi service at Reshui, even if his car is old and near breakdown. (A reservation may apply for the coldest time in winter.) There was no problem to get hotel rooms either. Food is a problem if you do not understand much Chinese. Often we were allowed into the kitchen and just pointed out what raw materials should go into our food.
And we had this little book available at foreign bookstores in Beijing "The pocket interpreter". It was of great help most of the time.