Z266 – The Slow Train to Canton – Part One

 I’m back on the train. My plan is a bit mad, and even I can’t remember why I decided to do this. I’m on the Z266, which runs daily from Lhasa to Guangzhou. It takes three days. This is a big trip, but yet in my mind I’m treating it like a short journey for some reason. I bet I am actually the only person travelling the full 4390 km to Canton. How many Chinese people would want to do this? Perhaps like wanting to take a single train journey from Edinburgh to Istanbul. I’m on a Z train again, and to […]

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The Man Who Would Be King

My time in Lhasa is fast drawing to a close. It’s been a wonderful and unique experience to be amongst all the pilgrims. The winter is a good time to visit Tibet. Okay it’s cold – just a couple of degrees in the daytime and freezing at night, but the climate is dry and the days are generally clear and sunny. Best of all though, there are hardly any (non Chinese) foreigners here. I’m hoping that you might have seen the epic British film from which the title of this post comes from. It’s Kipling fiction of course, but there […]

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Climbing to the Roof of the World on the Z21

We reached Golmod at 10.30 last night. This is the place where the climb really begins. I didn’t get off to supervise, but I could feel lots of shunting going on. I’m guessing that this is where the high altitude engines are added and whatever changes are made to the air supply take place. I was trying to get to bed early. Some hope! Once we set off there was a new noise in the darkness of our cabin. At first, it sounded like I might have accidentally switched on the radio, and all that was coming out was static […]

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Heaven and Hell in Zhongwei

Last night I went into a bit of a negative thought spiral. This annoys me as I like to think that one of my most precious skills on the rails is remaining positive and even madly happy in the face of adversity. The subject of my thoughts was the rapidly deteriorating state of the train. The toilets had become seriously bad so quickly that I secretly wished I wasn’t on the train. Then just to push me over the edge, I returned to my compartment to find an overpowering stench of stale urine. I lay in my berth desperately trying […]

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