The train trip from Lanzhou to Dunhuang took a lengthy 16 hours. Given that it left in late afternoon and arrived in mid-morning, this meant that it was a journey we actually got to “experience” rather than simply falling asleep in one city and waking up in another.
In this case, “experience,” meant a couple of things. First, that meant snacks. One of the great joys of long distance train travel in China (and elsewhere) is the wonderful array of yummy or at least interesting snacks everyone brings aboard. True, fruit, drinks, sundry small munchables and even full meals are available from carts that are constantly being pushed through the aisles, but they’re rather pricey and, in any case, the real experience lies in bringing your own. Whether it’s the ubiquitous 2 minute noodles with hot water from the boiler at the end of each carriage, the almost as common sunflower seeds forming an ever growing pile of shells, or something more exotic like preserved chicken feet, there’s nothing more fun than nibbling away the miles, sharing treats with your seatmates as you go.
I must admit, in an entry full of some pretty awesome pictures it’s a bit disappointing to have the headline photo be a pile of snack food. But it fits into the narrative at this point and nowhere else. Plus, as I say, it’s a big part of the Chinese train travel experience