Unfortunately, all good things do have to come to an end, and return to school, we had to. We tried getting sleeper tickets back to Nanjing from Xi’an, but failed, as this was the national holiday week, and pretty much the whole of China travels during this week (and one other week in May). As this was our first trip in China, we did not really explore our options, and decided to suck it up, by getting unreserved tickets on the train, for the 14-hr overnight train journey back to Nanjing. Bad idea.
We ended up standing, packed like sardines, without sleep. Some of the less considerate passengers decided to sprawl on whatever little floor space there was, and every few hours or so, we all had to pack ourselves away from the aisle, as the food cart will come by. Want to go to the toilet? Good luck, because people were already there. When we were nearing Nanjing, we almost fell, but that didn’t happen, because there was nowhere to fall. We vowed never to do this again.
Travel tip for trains in China: For future reference, if you can’t get a reserved seat (or better, first-class seats) on a train, don’t do it. Try getting a bus, where you can get a seat/bed. It’s worth the investment. Do not do coach class if you’re not prepared for it. For coach class, even if you have a reserved seat, they’ll sell an unlimited number of unreserved tickets, so it can get really packed. Traveling any class other than coach class will increase your comfort level immensely, because they do not allow passengers other than those in the cabin into the cabin. This will actually help with your sanity.
Xi’an Train Station