High Altitude Train

May 9, 2009

From Lhasa we left by train heading northward into “mainland” China.  The train we took was completed relatively recently, in 2006.  Before taking this train we heard a lot of rumors about i.  We heard that it was a massive effort, that most experts around the world told China it was foolish to attempt to build such a thing.  We also heard that the train reaches such high elevations that the cabin is pressurized (like airplanes) and that at one point oxygen masks pop down for people to wear where the air is thinnest.

Well, a lot of this turned out to be not really true.  The train really does reach some high altitudes, but none were as high as the 5 km passes we crossed by jeep on the way to Lhasa.  The cabins are not pressurized, but if you splurge for the soft-sleeper ticket then your bunk comes with oxygen tubes you can stick in your nostrils.  These tubes pump air all the time but it’s not clear if it’s particularly oxygenated.  Anyhow, Pnina and I took the cheapest option (hard seat) which was comfortable enough for our relatively short ride (we got off at Golmud, a roughly 14 hour journey, whereas most people continued to Xian or Beijing).

Still, the train ride was a good experience, mostly because the views are awesome.

At the Lhasa train station:

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The high-altitude desert, mountains, and lakes along the way…

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We’re not sure who lives in this tent, but it’s one of the most remote “residences” we’ve ever seen:

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A huge line of trucks en route to Tibet:

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Hanging out in the dining cart with a couple guys from our tour – Matthias (from Holland) and Michael (US):

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Michael testing out the breather tubes in his soft-sleeper bed:

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3 responses to “High Altitude Train

  1. Hello! May I ask why the name of this blog is called Honey sun? I had an odd half-asleep dream the other night of a man standing next to a train saying ” meet me at the honeysun! ” I woke up trying to figure out what it meant and then I came across this blog where you talk about a train trip! 🙂

    • You know what’s crazy? I had a dream last night where a voice said to me “meet Marissa by the train”. I’ve been trying all day to figure out what it means.

      Just kidding 🙂

      I called the blog “honeysun” because it was a year-long trip that my wife and I took right after we got married. So, it’s kind of like “honeymoon”, except instead of “moon” (which has a 1-month cycle) I used “sun” (which has a 1-year cycle).



      • Very funny. 🙂 What I didn’t mention is that the location of the dream was China. I don’t know anyone in China nor have I heard of anyone taking certain trains there. Either way, a cool connection between what I had a dream of and finding this blog. What an incredible journey you both had. You are blessed to be able to have that special experience. I wish you both many more years of happiness! 🙂

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