On a Dream Train
Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
360Trip End Aug 21, 2011
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Where I stayed
Seat 17, Cabin 5, The Highest Train in the World (Lhasa to Chengdu)
We woke early excited by the fact that we were off on the bikes, albeit 5 miles down the road to Lhasa train station. It was a rusty but familiar feeling lugging the bulging panniers down hotel stairs and clipping them onto the bikes. Loaded up again at last, they looked splendid and itching for a good ride. We had breakfast with the tour group and said our 'goodbyes'. It had been fun traveling in a group for a few days but we were so excited about getting back out on the road and being independent. The ride through Lhasa town was wonderful, it was the first time we have cycled on "Chinese" soil. The roads were slick and open. We even enjoyed a couple of bike lanes along the way. Polly’s irrational fear about being stranded on public transport without food meant that we had to stop along the way and stock up with fruit and crisps
Arriving at the train station we were greeted by a long queue for scanning luggage. This was obviously a joke with our bikes but with some helpful policeman we got all bags through and back on the bikes. Then stage two, find the platform. This is when things started to go so horribly wrong. We were refused entry with our bikes by a very officious woman guard. She barked at us in Tibetan over and over again. After minutes of confusion we managed to establish a route into a luggage depot. Again we were stung by the language barrier but as we filled out forms it looked as if we were getting the bikes on with a surcharge. Then the plot swung again. It transpired that the forms were for posting the bikes on a luggage train which would arrive at our destination of Chengdu 5 DAYS LATER. Hair pulling out time. There was no way they were letting our bikes on the train. The implications of this were disastrous. Refund of the ticket looked unlikely (this was the most expensive train ride ever at £140 a seat), we couldn’t fly soon, we couldn’t wait around for 5 days due to visa expiry. The consequences meant we had to pull something out of the bag
The rest of the day has been dream
We have just been served a delicious Chinese meal which was really the icing on the cake. I cannot imagine ever taking a train journey to match this and we still have all of tomorrow to sit back and enjoy the ride.