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Interview with Lea Xu: China Train Travel

Q:  Several of the Lotus Travel heritage tours include an overnight of train travel with a soft sleeper.  Why is that?
Lea: Well, the plusses of an overnight ride on the train are several.  A big one is that kids really enjoy it and find it to be a novelty.  They like the time to hang out among friends within nearby cabins.   In that sense, it may feel like a night of sleep away “camp” during the trip, with bunks and friends around.  Adults sometimes would prefer a luxury hotel bed, but the kids seem to relish the experience.  Of course for adults, it saves the cost of one hotel and it also is helpful to the schedule to travel while sleeping.

Q:  Well, does Lotus book all levels of train travel? 
Lea: Yes, we can.  Although, it is rare that we would book tickets on a slow train with hard seats.  I can think of only a few instances where we’ve arranged that, and it’s usually when a family needs to travel to a remote area to visit a child’s province. Most often we will book families on an express train within a soft sleeper class of service for an overnight trip to Beijing or Xian and such.  We also typically recommend to families to buy all 4 berths, to allow for their privacy.  There are a growing number of high speed trains that are really nice – for example most trains out of Hong Kong to major cities are quite comfortable. There is also a great new high speed train from Guangzhou to Wuhan through Changsha. For time saving reasons we often book in-country flights for families unless there is an advantage to time, such as with a soft sleeper train.

Q:  What is your most memorable train travel experience?
Lea:  Oh, that is easy!  It was many, many years ago, before we had kids.  It was a regular slow train and we were traveling from Guilin to Hangzhou, the train was packed full.  This was also before the booking and ticketing system worked well and though we had booked a soft sleeper cabin, they resold our berths to someone else.  We stood for the entire lengthy train ride of 30 hours and we were never so happy to arrive somewhere as we were then.  Louie and I laugh about it now, but at the time it was no fun to stand in crowded train for over a day while the train traveled.   We know all about travel, so we don’t allow any of our clients to have an experience like that!

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