Today China boasts the fastest high-speed rail in the world. They called it High-Speed Rail in China and in Japan, they called it Bullet Train. China High-Speed rail can travel up to 350 km/h while the Japanese bullet train can only travel up to 270 km/h. You would not imagine just within 20 years of time China surplus Japan and Europe built the fastest high-speed rail in the world. It also connecting everywhere in China major cities to rural areas. Chinese government believed that in order to help the poor in the countryside, the number one thing to look at is building good infrastructures, such as roads, railway, and bridges. There is a saying in China:要致富,先修路 -Building the road is the first step to become rich.
On the way to Liuyuan Station
Today we needed to catch the bullet train from Liuyuan to Turpan Xinjiang. We are crossing to another province in China -Xinjiang. So our schedule was tight, we rushed our lunch at Dunhuang city then traveled about 1.5 hours to reach Liuyuan Station. On the way to Liuyuan Station, basically, there is nothing when you look outside the window of the bus. (Refer to above picture).
Farewell to our Gansu Bus Driver & Tour Guide
Our bus stopped at the bus bay which is about 5 to 10 mins walk to Liuyuan Station. We unloaded all our belonging as we are going to bid farewell to our tour guide and bus driver from Gansu who was with us for the past 5 days. The weather was super hot and I did not see a single tree. We walked under the hot sun for less than 10 mins then finally reached Liuyuan Station.
Liuyuan belongs to Gansu in the territory and the passenger is mainly taking Dunhuang as the destination, but its transportation business is under the jurisdiction of the Urumqi Railway Bureau. So you will expect a lot of security check in this station!
Security Checks Is Tight at Liuyuan Station
Before entering the station, all bags small or big suitcases needed to go through the security checks. No knives or sharp objects, not even Swiss knife are allowed in ANY of your bags! Not even in your big suitcase! If the security scan detected any sharp objects, the security officer will ask you to open your big suitcase and dig out the item, so you end up wasting time doing so. My suggestion is to leave the sharp objects behind and don’t bring it with you. I left my Swiss knife on the bus.
Arrive Early is the Key
Always arrive 2 hours earlier before the train depart as you need to go through the security checks in Liuyuan Station.
Once we went through the security checks, we settle down at the waiting hall. There are clean toilets available but no toilet paper. Bring your own toilet paper.
Train Door only open for 5-10 mins!
The train only stops at Liuyuan for 5-10 mins, so we all have to rush like mad to push all our belonging into the train. In average, each person from our group has two bags, one big suitcase with wheels and one small bags.
Standby & Rush In
Check which compartment you will be sitting at, then get in immediately once the door of the train open. Rush in like a refugee as there are so many people behind you needed to board in as well, within the 10 mins time frame. The door closes after 10 mins.
We were lucky to have boarded safely, nobody left behind and that is the good thing. We then looked for our seats in the train compartment. The seats are very new and clean. You will notice there are cleaners cleaning the trash or mopping the floor almost every half an hour.
How to place your big luggages in the train?
We put all our suitcases near the door and the small suitcases you may want to lift up and put at the top compartment at your seats.
Hami / 哈密 Station
We passed by Hami / 哈密 Station also known as Kumul in Uyghur language, this place is famous for its sweet Hami melons / 哈密瓜. Hami is located at the border with Gansu province. We knew we were entering Xinjiang!
Police Random Checks @ Bullet Train
We encountered police random checks at the train. Several police spotted us and asked us a few questions, such as where are we from and where are we going? After that, the police decided to take all our particulars down with their cell phone. They took photos of our passport documents and a close up picture of us.
There is a kiosk on the train so if you need some snacks, you can get it there. Alternatively, there are also staffs passing by your seats, carrying fruits or snacks. You can also order tea or coffee from them and they will bring it to your seat.
Toilet Facilities in the Train
I am quite impressed at the clean toilet on the train and with toilet paper!
There are even soap and water after the toilet!
Nothing But only Vast Land
The high-speed train from Liuyuan to Turpan took us about 4 hours. Nothing much to see if you look outside the window. Mainly vast land with mountains only. No shops or houses.
Arrived Turpan Station
We arrived at Turpan at around 8pm, we finally reach Xinjiang Autonomous Region! We were all so excited. We waited 15 mins earlier at the train door, then prepared to rush out once the door open as you know the door only open for 10 mins.
No Elevator or Lift
There is no elevator or lift up the station so we need to carry our own suitcases and bags down the stairs to exit the station. Before exit the station, there are some security checks at the exit gate.
Stopped by Police Officer with Big Machine Guns
Just when we thought we were out from the hassle from the train station and could enjoy a good dinner, we were stopped by two police officers holding big machine guns. They demanded all of us to report to the police station before going up to our bus. They did not let us go by the line despite our Xinjiang tour guide pleaded them several times.
Check in Police Station @ Turpan
We have no choice but walk for 5 mins and line up at the front of the police station. Few police officer took photo of our passport documents and picture of us. It took us about 30 mins to complete all photo taking for the 30 of us.
Final Thoughts :
The bullet train experience was not the first for me in China. I have done it before in Guangxi Province few years ago. The security check in Liuyuan Station is very strict which shock me a bit. The facilities in the bullet train are well equipped with clean toilets and free drinking hot water. I hope the train station have the lift, that way travellers do not have to carry their big luggage up or down. The sudden police random checks inside the train also shocked me, as if we were some criminals, photos and passport documents were all photographed. In total we were being photographed twice by the Xinjiang police officers in a day! Feel like fugitives 🙂
The journey can be very boring so bring along any electronics devices or books for the 4 hours train ride.