The Friendly Friday Challenge is a fortnightly challenge co-hosted by Something to Ponder About and The Sandy Chronicles.

The prompt for this week and last week is Road Trip. Last week, I responded with a few photos from a road trip to the Roof of the World (Lhasa, Tibet to Mt. Everest Base Camp – Tibet).

This week’s response comes from the 40-hour train trip from Beijing, China to Lhasa to begin the Tibetan adventure. According to the sponsors, a train trip qualifies under their “road trip” challenge. The full post is here.

The journey covered 2,345 miles (3,757 km). Scheduled time when I traveled in September 2018 was 40 hours and 20 minutes. Elevation varies from 44 meters at Beijing to a maximum of 4,500 meters at Nagqu, Tibet, to 3,650 meters at Lhasa.

I prefer air travel in most cases. In time and distance, this was by far the longest train trip of my life.


The Lhasa train is designated Z21. It departs from Beijing West Railway Station at 20:00. I met a representative of the tour company, Tibet Vista, there at 18:00 after a two-hour bus ride from the airport.

Beijing West Station

I was traveling on a festival weekend which meant trains were crowded with people getting away.  I had dinner at the station at a KFC because it was easy, fast and there was a place to sit down.  Then I stood in line for an hour waiting to board.   

Lining up for boarding.

Tibet Vista booked a soft-sleeper berth that I would share with three others.  The sleeper had two sets of bunk beds and a small table with a picture window.  20180930_050341    

My upper berth was pretty comfortable for sleeping. 

Nice quilt and some storage. The TV never worked.
Each berth had an oxygen port that functioned at high altitude. I couldn’t tell how much oxygen was coming out, if any, but never felt short of breath.

My sleeper mates were a couple from Mongolia and a lady from Beijing who was traveling with her father.  She spoke very good English.  It was a big help having her in the sleeper.  I suspect that strings may have been pulled to have an English speaker in the cabin. 

Sleeper mates.   


Folding chairs in the hall were an option for taking a break.

Some bathrooms were squat toilets.  Bring your own TP. 

The train had a dining car, but menus were only in Chinese and the staff spoke no English.  

The train passed through several large cities in the eastern third of the country before reaching open territory in the central and western portion. Scenery reminded me of the western U.S.

Qinghai Lake

The ground-level view of the terrain was different than what I’m used to at 30,000 ft.  The train was very enjoyable but I’ll admit to being very happy when we pulled into Lhasa exactly on time 40 hours after departure. 

Lhasa Station

As the only Westerner on the train, the customs and language issues were difficult at times.  People were generally friendly though.

Full instructions on Friendly Friday can be found here.  Join the challenge next week.

Again, please feel free to check out the original post here.  Thanks, and I hope you have many enjoyable road trips past and future.