Last year my friend who came to Xiamen wanted to go to Mt Wuyi and took a 12 hour train ride to get there. This year, I decided to go to Mt Wuyi and it took a mere 3 hours. That’s because they recently opened a new high speed train ride that links Xiamen all the way to Hefei stopping at some of southern China’s most scenic spots in between.
This particular train is hailed as “China’s Most Beautiful High Speed Train” and I could not resist riding it. It took me a week total, as I stopped in two of the mountains on the way, and the train was speedy and clean. I was impressed with the speed and the service.
What I was not impressed with was the view. As almost the entire length of the line runs through amazing mountain scenery I read that building this line was hard. 86% of the track is built on bridges or tunnels due to the undulating topography. If I had to guess out of that 86% which percent was tunnels, I’d say 99%.
Yeah, that’s right. From the outside, the train looks cool as it dips in and out of mountains. On the train, meanwhile, you see a whole lot of black. Tunnels ain’t so fun to look at when you’re inside them.
The hour and a half leg between Mt Wuyi and Yellow Mountain was the one I was looking forward to the most. I imagined splendid scenery and as luck would have it, I landed a coveted window seat. Camera in hand, I was eager to see the scenery, especially as I knew my destination would have snow, so hopefully I’d see some start along the way.
Well, with so many tunnels, and nothing to do, I kinda ended up falling asleep. I opened my bleary eyes at one point and saw snow! Immediately grabbing my camera, we entered another tunnel before I had time to take a pic. I kept the camera (aka my phone) on my lap waiting to the end of the tunnel.
We came out again, I saw the snow, raised the camera and….back in a tunnel. This went on for an embarrassingly long time. In our few moments outside I would raise the camera, open it, and before I could get one pic, we were back in the tunnels. I even got my camera ready, poised at the window while we were in the tunnel so I could take a pic as soon as we got out. This is what I captured:
My camera didn’t even have enough time to focus before we were plunged back into the darkness of a tunnel.
So it’s fast, it’s cheap and a really convenient way to get to some great places. Just don’t expect a ton of beautiful scenery on the way, wait till you arrive.
Nice. Still waiting for the first true high-speed rail in the US. Acela doesn’t count, as it’s as slow as a school bus. The average speed on the Philly-Boston route is a glacier 64 MPH.
Yeah, but I don’t see how an high-speed train network could ever work in America. It needs an extensive public transportation system around it, which obviously we don’t have. So even if you took a train you’d have to worry about how you would get to the train station, or get to your destination or the places you have to go after. I just don’t see how it would ever work with our car mentality.