Datong Great Wall

October 23rd, 2014
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Have you ever had a bold idea of planning your Datong Great Wall Tour? If you have seen the images of the Great Wall near Beijing, you may believe the Great Wall of China is mainly made of majestic bricks and stones. No, much of the Great Wall we see today were built in Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), which is not stone but earth! For the 6700 km Ming Dynasty Great Wall, only over 1000 km section of the Wall is stone. 

The Great Wall we see today mainly refers to the Great Wall built in Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), a massive wall construction era. The Ming Dynasty Government established so-called Nine Frontier Important Towns which were in charge of the whole over 6000 km chunk of the Great Wall from Shanhaiguan Pass to Jiayuguan Pass. The ancient Datong was one of the Nine Frontier Important Towns, maintaining the 335km Great Wall within Datong and defending against the Mongol raiders.Datong Great Wall is also known as “Outer Section of the Great Wall” snaking 335km along the border between today’s Shanxi Province and Inner Mongolia which was a border wall – the frontier between Mongolia and the Chinese heartland in Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Datong Great Wall was an important part of the Wall’s central section from the Yellow River to the passes leading to Beijing, vital to the defense of both central China and Beijing. Actually the Great Wall near Datong here doubles and triples like a bit of DNA and Datong lies between two lines – Outer Great Wall and Inner Great Wall.

Along the 335km Datong Outer Great Wall, you still can see much of the remnants of the ramparts, dilapidated forts, crumbling and overgrown; some sections vanish into gaps of roads, quarries, and reservoirs; some give away to camel’s humps or saw-teeth blasted by wind and washed by rain; sometimes no more than a gentle bank a meter or two in height and sometimes nothing at all.

Recently, escorted by a local Datong guide – Mr.Tao, I’ve selectively visited Datong Great Wall for 3 days. Now I’d like to give you a general picture with broad strokes of the ancient Great Wall north of Datong. Come to Datong to find its charm and take in fresh air!

The early morning 45-minute flight from Beijing Capital Airport brings me safely to Datong Yungang Airport.  Met by my escort – Mr. Tao and drives directly to Datong’s city center. On the way, Mr. Tao proudly I’m briefed on the great change that has been taken place in Datong, which has been transformed from a  polluted base for coal production base into a booming city. Now, roads are expanded or reconstructed, new residential apartments built, pretty bridges set up and even the ancient city wall in Datong has been totally restored!

See below the picture of the restored Datong Ancient City Wall taken after my 3-day Datong Great Wall trip. So I can’t wait to show you the resurrection of Datong! Start your Datong Tour now!

Datong City Wall

Datong City Wall

After a simple street food breakfast and a short break, Mr. Tao gives me a general introduction to the Wall near Datong and the travel plan for the 3-day Datong Great Wall trip. The 3-day Great Wall trip without pre-arranged logistic supply is a touch work-out for me.  A big lunch is arranged to prepare for the harsh days ahead.

Geared with water, food and sleeping bags, at 2:00 pm we start our 3-day trip from Datong’s city center.  One hour’s drive takes us to our first destination – Deshengbu Fortress, 45km to the northwest of Datong.  We plan to go from Deshengbu Fortress further to the east direction along the Wall either by walk, or hitchhike if necessary, an impromptu trip.

Deshengbu Fortress
It is recorded that along the 335km Datong Outer Great Wall there used to be 52 fortress and Deshengbu was one of the ancient  walled, garrison towns that are the epitome of north China. Deshengbu Fort was built on the south of the important pass linking Datong to Inner Mongolia, a strategically important passage.

Originally built with earth and later in 1574 the garrison town was added brick wall. But today almost all the bricks have been taken away by local villager for building houses. In peace times,  Mongol traders brought horses here to be exchanged for the goods such as silk  from China.

The north entrance to Deshengbu Fortress.

The north entrance to Deshengbu Fortress.

The north entrance to Deshengbu Fortress.

Standing on the top of  the north gate, I have a panoramic view of the village within the compound of the fort circled by the remnants of the ramparts.

A panoramic view of the village within compound of the fort

A panoramic view of the village within compound of the fort

It is a  laid back village with its medieval streets and stone-walled compounds ( some bricks from the walls of Deshengbu  Fortress).

A laid back village within Deshengbu Fort.

A laid back village within Deshengbu Fort.

Wander the dirt roads lined with stone and brick houses, old people idle and chat. To the north end you will see  an unrestored Ming-era gate.

A unrestored Ming-era gate.

A unrestored Ming-era gate

You may hike along the tamped earth wall north of Deshengbu Fort to the east direction for about 13 km and reach the next former garrison town – Hongcibu Fortress. Given 3 days for such a long wall hike ahead of us, to save time and energy we ask our driver to send us directly to Hongcibu Fortress and start our Datong Great Wall trip there.

Hongcibu Fortress
Hongcibu Garrison Town was one of the most famous fortresses along Datong Great Wall. But now not much left for the remnants of the ramparts around the fort. Its south wall is nothing at all. The north archway gate is left with two earth high ramparts with the exterior bricks taken away by the local villagers for building houses.

 The north archway gate is seriously damaged.

The north archway gate is seriously damaged.

Hike from Hongcibu Fort to Zhenchuan Fort
We start from our hike from the wall north of Hongcibu Fort. Within the 3 hours before dark, it is almost impossible to cover the hike along the 15km tamped earth wall from Hongcibu to Zhenchuankou Great Wall 2.5km north of Zhenchuan Fortress.

We need to cross over a steep mountain  known as Fangshan (Square Mountain). My escort – Mr.Tao suggests a short cut hiking route leading up to the steep hill. Later it shows this section is most tiring and tough for two of us trudging up the hill with heavy bags filled with food,water and sleeping bags and more.

We plunge on uphill through bushes and saplings and walk along  the tamped earth section of the Great Wall.

We plunge on uphill through bushes and saplings.

We plunge on uphill through bushes and saplings.

Scrambling up the overgrown and even crumbling  earth Great Wall perched on the steep slopes of Fangshan Mountain.

Scrambling up the overgrown and even crumbling  earth Great Wall

Scrambling up the overgrown and even crumbling earth Great Wall

To catch up with the time left before dark, Mr. Tao chooses a short cut away from the Great Wall for a faster  ascent up to the summit. The short cut does reduce our hiking distance, but doesn’t save our energy, a tiring and tough climb!

A tiring and tough climb

A tiring and tough climb

Reaching the summit, we see the sun is setting, blanketing the top  and wall in golden rays. The dilapidated beacon-tower still stands on the summit blasted by wind and washed by rain.

. The dilapidated beacon-tower still stands on the summit blasted by wind and rain.

The dilapidated beacon-tower still stands on the summit blasted by wind and rain.

 

The rigorous climb awards us with the amazing view of the plateau on the summit with the beautiful sunset. We are walking along the tamped earth Great Wall perched on the plateau with the backdrop of sunset glow.

The rigorous climb awards us with the amazing view.

The rigorous climb awards us with the amazing view on the summit.

Walking on the wild section of the earth Great Wall on the flat summit, communicating in heart  with the soldiers who eked out their lives for the safety of the country over 500 years ago.

Walking on the wild section of the earth Great Wall on the flat summit

Walking on the wild section of the earth Great Wall on the flat summit

It is getting dark and the Great Wall hike after nightfall is risky. So we decide to stop walking along the Wall and hike down the hill. Before we reach a courtyard home in the village down the hill, it has been already dark outside. We knock at the door. It is a cave house with  a spacious courtyard.

The host Mr. Li is very friendly. He agrees to let us  put up for the night  in his cave house. And he even invites us to have dinner with them ( including his son and his son’s wife).

Having dinner with Li's family.

Having dinner with Li’s family.

Spreading the sleeping bags on the kang- a stone bed with a stove both for cooking and warming in the house. Soon we both fall asleep.  With much hiking ahead, we have to get up early. At this moment, we have the chance to see the 4-hole cave house. The earth houses common in the Loess Plateau in Henan, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Gansu and Qinghai. Cave houses are generally carved out of a hillside, a vertical side of a loess hill, warm in winter and cool in summer.

Li's Cave House

Li’s Cave House

Seeing we have so much to carry on the tough Great Wall hike, Mr. Li is ready to give us a hitchhike using his tractor and brings us to the starting point of Zhenchuankou Great Wall about 2.5km north of his village.

Hitchhike Li's tractor

Hitchhike Li’s tractor

Hike from Zhenchuankou to Zhenbianbu Fortress
Getting off the tractor, we start our hike at Zhenbiankou Great Wall towards Zhenbian Fortress. The earth rammed wall at Zhenbiankou is hard and firm and are still well kept despite of the wind and rain for the past over 500 years.  The wall mostly made of earth tamped  down between planks in layers one on top of the other.

The wall mostly made of earth tamped  down

The wall mostly made of earth tamped down

Guide-towers and beacon-towers are dotted on the wall or by the wall. Blasted by wind and washed by rain, some sections  are just camel’s humps or low banks, or nothing at all.

Guide-towers and beacon-towers are dotted on the wall or by the wall.

Guide-towers and beacon-towers are dotted on the wall or by the wall.

Hike along  the rugged wall ridge with bushes and saplings. Unlike the wall near Beijing built on the summit of the high mountains, most of the earth wall here built on the flat plain or at the base of the mountain with much vulnerability to the raids from the nomads. On the both sides of the wall are fields planted with corns, sorghum and potatoes.

Hike along  the rugged wall ridge with bushes and saplings.

Hike along the rugged wall ridge with bushes and saplings.

It is an autumn harvest time and the farmers are busy collecting corns on the fields.

It is an autumn harvest time

It is an autumn harvest time

We continue to walk  on the wild wall top overlooking the farmlands on both sides of the wall below, feeling the silence and tranquility of the yellow dragon snaking extending east and north.

Continue to walk  on the wild wall top

Continue to walk on the wild wall top

We reach the next village known as Heishui Village with over 50 households. In Ming Dynasty was also a small castle for military defense. Now the village looks rundown, dusty and scrubby.  Young people have almost all left the village for migrating to the cities for work. We don’t how long the village will keep on with old people taking caring of the fields and themselves.

We reach the next village known as Heizuishan Village

We reach the next village known as Heizuishan Village

The local villagers are warm and friendly, worried that we are unable to walk to our next destination – Zhenbianbu  Fortress, still over 10 km away. Seeing we carry so much backpack, they persuade a passing by SUV to give us a hitchhike to Zhenbianbu Fort.

Zhenbianbu Fortress
Arriving at Zhenbianbu Fortress, we are amazed at the ancient walled garrison town that is still populated by the local village. The fortress was built in 1539. People live in the stone and brick houses. The scene would have a timeless quality except for a few electricity poles and motorbikes. Year after year people live the same farm life.

Zhenbianbu Fortress

Zhenbianbu Fortress

The ancient gate is dilapidated, showing us its past pride.  The stone and brick gate is under the protection of the local government. We see some construction is going on and learn that the local government plans to turn Zhenbianbu Fortress into a tourist attraction. So come here early before it is too touristy.

The ancient gate is dilapidated

The ancient gate is dilapidated

After one hour’s visit in Zhenbianbu Fortress, we again hitchhike a van taking us from Zhenbanbu Fortress to Shoukounu Fortress, a 20km drive.  Accompanied by the winding yellow earth Great Wall, it is scenic drive. The wall extends to the east till Beijing.

Accompanied by the winding yellow earth Great Wall, it is scenic drive.

Accompanied by the winding yellow earth Great Wall, it is scenic drive.

Shoukoubu Fortress
We get to Shoukoubu Fort in the late afternoon. “Shoukoubu” literally means “Defending the Ravine Fort”.  Here there is a valley or ravine in the mountain easy for an access by the nomad warlords in Ming Dynasty, hence the fort built in 1546 with bricks and stones for military defense purpose.  The valley or the pass divides the wall here into the east section and west section.

Parts of the ramparts around the fort are still visible. The Shoukoubu Village is within the former castle. Losing no time, we walk to the east side to have better pictures of the Wall in the sunset glow.

the Wall in the sunset glow

the Wall in the sunset glow

The crumbling Great Wall snakes down the steep mountain under the setting sun with a backdrop of colorful autumn leaves.

The crumbling Great Wall snakes down

The crumbling Great Wall snakes down

The whole fortress or the local village is perched on the valley with high mountains surrounded in  three sides.  We have to give up the idea of taking sunset or sunrise pictures due to the high mountains blocking the sun and walk to the village in the castle for staying overnight.  The fortress or the village now is located on the west side of the valley with the west section of the wall and high beacon towers looming over it.

Shoukoubu Village

Shoukoubu Village

Next morning, I climb up the west section of the Wall on the steep hillside. The rammed wall feels hard and firm, going up along the rugged mountain. Eroded by the rain and blasted by rain, the wall appears like undulating saw-teeth perched on the steep slope.

The west section of the Wall on the steep hillside

The west section of the Wall on the steep hillside

Standing on the west side of the valley with the section of the hard yellow earth wall running down to the bottom of the valley, have a panorama of the fortress ( or the village), the wall broken at the mouth of the valley and the east section of the Wall, better understanding the name of the fortress – Shoukoubu ( Defending the valley Castle ).

Wall on the both sides of the valley

Wall on the both sides of the valley

Looking at the east direction, I’m amazed by the autumn view of the Wall and colorful apricot trees. The guide-towers and beacon-towers are scattered around the mountain in the east side in a far distant mist with the backdrop of the autumn apricot trees and the courtyards in the village.

The autumn view of the Wall and colorful apricot trees

The autumn view of the Wall and colorful apricot trees

Here you can find some round beacon towers perched on the west slopes of the mountain rarely seen in Beijing.

some round beacon towers

some round beacon towers

Any questions, just drop a line.

Datong Ancient City Wall

October 21st, 2014
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This is my third-time visit of Datong, which has completely changed my previous view of Datong as a polluted base for coal production. Now, roads are expanded or reconstructed, new residential apartments built, pretty bridges set up and even the ancient city wall in Datong has been totally restored ( except for a small part in the west wall that is still being constructed at the time of writing) !

If you are planning your Datong tour, a glimpse of the massive Datong City Wall is not to be missed. The original city wall in Datong  was built in 1372 at the early stage of Ming Dynasty ( 1368 – 1644)  upon the ancient tamped earth city walls that had been built originally during Liao Dynasty (916 – 1125 and Jin Dynasty (1115 – 1234). It was 14 meters high with a perimeter  of 7270 meters and  4 main gates, 4 turrets and 46 watch towers.

In Ming Dynasty, the ancient Datong was designated as one of the nine military towns along the Great Wall of China defending against the steppe nomads from the north. Datong was strategically important since it was situated on the mid-section of the Great Wall of  China with the essential task of confronting the galloping Mongols and safeguarding Beijing and China as a whole.

My passion for sunrise photos wakes me up in the early morning and 20-minute walk from my lodging hotel on Yingbin Avenue brings me to the south wall of Datong’s restored ancient city wall. Seeing the sun glow over the high city wall, I’m much admired for the ambitious Datong Ancient City Wall restoration plan proposed by Datong former mayor – Mr. Geng Yanbo who inaugurated the project in 2008 despite of the flooded debate on the necessity of the restoration of the Wall.

Morning Sun Glow over the ancient city wall in Datong

Morning Sun Glow over the ancient city wall in Datong

Morning Sun Glow over the ancient city wall in Datong

The high city wall with watch towers on the top surrounded by a city moat 5 meters deep and 10 meters wide.

High City Wall, Watch Towers and City Moat

High City Wall, Watch Towers and City Moat

A two-storey watch tower atop the wall with a clear look at the battlements on the wall.

Watch Tower and Battlements on the wall

Watch Tower and Battlements on the wall

The main south gate is closed to the public transport, which is replaced by the two south side gates. This picture is taken of the west south side gate.

The West South Side Gate

The West South Side Gate

Two large pools connecting the city moat on the both sides of the main South Gate. With beautiful reflections on the water, the restored wall really injects much life into the ancient city of Datong.

 Beautiful reflections on the water

Beautiful reflections on the water

The picture taken from the east angle of the main south gate which includes an inner city for defense purpose. Come here for a stroll,  looking for the charm and local life.

 East angle of the main south gate

East angle of the main south gate

This is the south main gate named Yongtai Gate ( Everlasting Peace Gate ).  The original ancient city wall of Datong had four main  gates ( east, south,west and north). The restored wall has added two side gates for each side wall for the smooth traffic flow.

 Yongtai Gate ( Everlasting Peace Gate )

Yongtai Gate ( Everlasting Peace Gate )

This is the east south side gate of Datong’s city wall.

 East south side gate of Datong's city wall

East south side gate of Datong’s city wall

The green belt along the city is a huge city park, giving the locals much spaces for morning exercises and other activities.

The green belt along the city is a huge city park

The green belt along the city is a huge city park

Paying a ticket fee of RMB 30 allows you to have a stroll on the top of the wide city wall where you are able to have a panoramic view of Datong City.

Ascending the city wall

Ascending the city wall

Ascending the city wall

On the top of the wide city wall

On the top of the wide city wall

On the top of the wide city wall

The 14-meter high city wall is just magnificent.

The 14-meter high wall

The 14-meter high wall

The pavilions and towers on the city wall top

The pavilions and towers on the city wall top

The pavilions and towers on the city wall top

Standing on the mid-south wall, you will have a clear picture of the north-south axis of the ancient city layout of Datong with a distant view of Drum Tower.

 The north-south axis

The north-south axis

Below the mid-south city wall ( slightly to the west side) is the famous Shanhua Temple, originally built in Tang Dynasty.

Shanhua Temple

Shanhua Temple

If you have any questions, just drop a line.

Add-on:
Top Things to Do in Datong
Best Time to Visit Datong
Where to Stay in Datong
Datong Xian High Speed Train

Travel Tips for Taking a High Speed Train from Beijing to Xian

October 12th, 2014
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Plan your Beijing Xian tour? Basically you may go visiting Xian from Beijing either  by flight or train.  Many travelers choose to take a  5-6 hour high speed train from Beijing to Xian or vice versa. Below are some useful tips for planning your Beijing Xian tour by taking high speed trains.

1. Locating the right train station for the trains from Beijing to Xian.
There are 4 major railway stations in Beijing, namely Beijing Railway Station ( the oldest one ), Beijing West Railway Station ( for the trains from Beijing to Xian, Lhasa and Kowloon), Beijing South Railway Station ( for the trains from Beijing to Shanghai and Tianjin) and Beijing North Railway Station ( for the S trains to Badaling Great Wall).

The address of Beijing West Railway Station
Add: Lianhuachi Donglu, Fengtai District ( just south of Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution)Tel: 51826253
The trains departing from Beijing West Railway Station: Xian, Luoyang, Chongqing, Chengdu, Lhasa, Urumqi, Guangzhou and Kowloon.

2. How to get to Beijing West Railway Station from Beijing Capital Airport?
1) Taking the  No.07: Capital Airport Shuttle Bus to Beijing West Train Station

2) Airport Express Train + Subway: Take airport express train and get off at its final station of Dongzhimen (东直门), interchange for Subway line 2 to the south and alight at the second stop of Chaoyangmen (朝阳门), again interchange for subway line 6 to the west and alight at 7th station of Baishiqiao South (白石桥南), then again interchange for Subway Line 9 to the south direction and get off at the second station of Beijing West Railway Station (北京西站)and start your train travel.

3) Taxi fare: about RMB 130( 40km ).

2. How to get to Beijing West Railway Station from the city center?
To leave or go to Beijing West Railway Station, taking subway is the most convenient way of public transportation since the subway line 9 passes by the train station.

With subway line 9, you are linked to other three train station: Beijing Railway Station ( line 2), Beijing South Railway Station ( line 4 ) and Beijing North Railway Station ( line 2 and 4 ). Check Beijing Subway Map for more information.

3. What does the main train building look like?
Beijing West Railway Station is a modern passenger station 90 meters at the highest  in a shape of “品” with an area of 510,000 sq meters constructed with 10 platforms.

The main building faces north and south with two squares – North Square and South Square. There are public buses in each square with the north square having more public transport. Basically we suggest go through the north entrance to the station. If you take a taxi, just ask your taxi driver to go to the north square instead of south square.

The main building

The main building with the north square

Both the first floor and second floor at the north entrance are designed for check-in. If you taxi the station, your taxi driver will take you directly to the second floor for entry while arriving by public bus you will check through the  first floor.

4. How many daily high speed trains from Beijing to Xian?
Going between Beijing and Xian, currently there are 7 daily high-speed trains.You are supposed to reach the station at least half hour before departure.

Train No. From Dep time To Arr Time First Class Second Class
G651 Beijing West 07:05 Xian North 12:47 824.5 515.5
G671 Beijing West 08:10 Xian North 13:55 824.5 515.5
G655 Beijing West 10:05 Xian North 15:48 824.5 515.5
G673 Beijing West 14:43 Xian North 20:53 824.5 515.5
G87 Beijing West 14:00 Xian North 19:00 824.5 515.5
G667 Beijing West 16:53 Xian North 22:59 824.5 515.5
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————
Train No. From Dep time To Arr Time First Class Second Class
G652 Xian North 07:03 Beijing West 13:28 824.5 515.5
G654 Xian North 08:22 Beijing West 13:53 824.5 515.5
G672 Xian North 09:06 Beijing West 15:11 824.5 515.5
G656 Xian North 10:10 Beijing West 16:27 824.5 515.5
G88 Xian North 13:13 Beijing West 17:55 824.5 515.5
G666 Xian North 16:16 Beijing West 21:47 824.5 515.5
G674 Xian North 17:11 Beijing West 23:08 824.5 515.5

5. Ticket and Security Check at Beijing West Train Station
Either on the first or second floor there are several booths for ticket and security check.  Passengers are require to line up and go one by one with their tickets and ID cards or passports ready. So don’t forget to bring your passport with you for the train ride.  Your luggage and bags will be X-rayed for security check.

Line up for ticket and security check

Line up for ticket and security check

5. Which waiting room ( or Platform )  for Beijing Xian High Speed Trains?
After having your luggage X-rayed and enter the main waiting hall,  you will see a huge electronic  train schedule board with real-time information on the trains in and out.   There are 10 platforms in Beijing West Railway Station with 1-5 for common trains and 6-10 for high speed trains.

Just match your train number with the waiting room number. Basically your waiting room leads to the platform for your train to Xian. Normally your waiting room will be numbered “8” for the trains to Xian.  There are 13 waiting rooms inside the station. The waiting room No.8 is normally for passengers taking the trains to Xian.

 you will see a huge electronic  train schedule board

you will see a huge electronic train schedule board

Walking through the long corridor and looking for the Waiting Room No.08 for Passengers taking high speed trains for Xian.

Looking for the Waiting Room No.08

Looking for the Waiting Room No.08

6. Any decent restaurants inside the main main building?
There are some clean and quality cafes and restaurants available at Beijing Railway Station like KFC and McDonald. Luckily, your waiting room No.8 is close to MacDonald.

your waiting room No.8 is close to MacDonald

Your waiting room No.8 is close to MacDonald

Your waiting room No.8 is also close to KFC.

KFC.

KFC.

And Starbucks

Starbucks

Starbucks

7. What about the waiting room and ticket collecting?
Make sure you are on the right waiting room.  The train staffer at the gate (Information Desk)  to your waiting room will double check your train ticket for the right place.

The Entrancd to Your Waiting Room

The Entrance to Your Waiting Room

Each waiting room is marble-stone paved with air-conditioning  and ventilation system. On the front sides there are food and book stalls as well a cafe.

Each waiting room is marble-stone paved with air-conditioning  and ventilation system

Each waiting room is marble-stone paved with air-conditioning and ventilation system

Check the electronic board to seat on the right row for your train.  Basically there are two rows of benches for each high speed train.  If you hold the pink-colored ticket, you seat and line up on the pink side; if you have the blue ticket, you line up on the blue side.

Purchased from a ticketing agent, a pink train ticket needs be checked manually while with a blue ticket bought directly from a train station, you need to have your ticket checked by swiping it on the machine by the gate.

Different passages for pink and blue tickets

Different seating areas for pink and blue ticket holders

You see people are lining up to have their tickets checked and enter the platform for their train.

 people are lining up to have their tickets checked

people are lining up to have their tickets checked

8. Get on the right car, compartment facilities and train speed
Usually it is quite a walk from the ticket check-in gate down to the platform and the  right compartment.  Just take it easy carrying or rolling your luggage down to the platform and locate the right car you are in.

Take an elevator down to the platform

Take an elevator down to the platform

Many passengers would stop and take some pictures of the train.  The train is sleek, thin and long with its head looking like a plane. The train is one of the design of CRH series. It is designed to travel at 350 km per hour. However, the trains are only allowed to run at 300 km per hour due to the safety factor – keeping a required safe distance between following trains.

The train is sleek, thin and long with its head looking like a plane.

The train is sleek, thin and long with its head looking like a plane.

Two kinds of seats – 5-seat row ( second class) and 4-seat row (first class).  Some high speed trains have 8 cars and others have 16 cars.  There is a snack car on the train where you may have coffee, snacks and fast food. The inside of the train has a futuristic look as well with comfortable seats, wide windows, smartly dressed attendants and food service better than a plane.

It is easy to get on the train as the train is at a high level platform. And all the stations on route  are built with high level platforms. This males it so easy to handle your heavy suitcases onto the train.

The train is at a high level platform

The train is at a high level platform

A 5-seat row ( second class) car

A 5-seat row ( second class) car

A 5-seat row ( second class) car

4-seat row (first class)

 4-seat row (first class).

4-seat row (first class).

Put your large suitcases on the luggage rack by the door in the linkage area.

luggage rack by the door

luggage rack by the door

9.  Train Speed and

The train starts so smoothly that you won’t  feel you are moving. But once out of the train station, the train speeds up to around 300 km per hour. If you don’t look at the outside through the window, you won’t realize you are on a moving train. The electronic information board in each end of  each car showing the train speed  and  next station  stop

Most of the time the train runs at the speed of approx.  300 km /h.

Most of the time the train runs at the speed of approx. 300 km /h.

All this is due to the elevated track that uses slab construction that holds the continuously welded rail. All the local traffic moves under the elevated track so there are no level crossings or underpasses.

All this is due to the elevated track

All this is due to the elevated track

Lunch can be bought  in the coach car from an attendant who supplies it from a airline type cart.

Lunch can be bought  in the coach car

Lunch can be bought in the coach car

The slab non-ballasted tracks for high speed trains make the trains smoother and comfortable different from common trains on ballasted track.

The slab non-ballasted tracks

The slab non-ballasted tracks

Train tracks on a high level viaduct

Train tracks on a high level viaduct

Train tracks on a high level viaduct

9. Arriving at Xian
For the Beijing Xian High Speed Train, the Beijing terminus is Beijing West Railway Station, with the Xian terminus at Xian North Railway Station.  The major calling points are Shijiazhuang, Anyang and Luoyang on route.

Arriving at Xian North Railway Station

Arriving at Xian

Arriving at Xian

10. Go to Xian downtown by subway line 2
Arriving at Xian North Railway Station, it is both money-saving and convenient to take subway line 2 directly from the train station to the downtown Xian ( Bell Tower ).

Go to Xian downtown by subway line 2

Go to Xian downtown by subway line 2


Any questions, just drop a line.