Friday, March 16, 2012

Into Sichuan by Train

After overnighting in Chuxiong we found ourselves in the train station waiting room in GuangTong, recalling memories from our November-December 2008 trip across China in which we spent a chaotic hour or so in the GuangTong station waiting for the slow train north to Heijing. This time the station is more orderly and instead of getting off at Heijing, just an hour north, we are riding to Panzhihua, Sichuan, some 6 hours north.

What a great ride! Although there are lots of tunnels, the views are awesome. At a few points the tracks double back on themselves to gain or lose elevation and the last hour is along the Jinsha Jiang, the main western headwaters of the Yangtze River.

And it's a slow, dusty, mostly empty train, with many stops in remote towns, sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for quite awhile to let freight trains pass. During one of those long stops the conductor stopped by for a chat. At another stop our car was in a tunnel while the rear cars were at the station.

We had this car pretty much to ourselves
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One of the valleys along the way.
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Sun-Ling studies the route ahead.
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A spot where the tracks "tripleback" on themselves.
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Locomotives of a passing freight train.
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The Jinsha River near Panzhihua.
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3 comments:

Crash Eddy said...

GM depicts the tripleback http://g.co/maps/32b3k but it must be just that, a depiction. Change to sat view and the tracks aren't actually there.

john said...

Crash, That's it! Just like in the photo. I opened your link, changed to sat view, zoomed out and could see all three tracks. Note that both 180 degree turns are in tunnels, and the zoom-out picks up the north-most track. Btw, I had my compass out during this stretch. Very cool to see it swing 180 degrees in the tunnels. Thanks much for locating this in GM. It's like you are traveling with us!

Crash Eddy said...

I try to keep up with you on GM. GM's public transportation button doesn't map the transit, gives departure times, so doesn't follow the rail line.

Prompted by your comment, I went back to the map, sat view, and looked in more detail. Yes, I see where the tracks enter tunnels, the two 180s plus many other tunnels nearby.