As far as I can tell, there are three classes of trains in China.
The first class, the fastest, is a bullet train, similar to the ones developed in Korea and Japan. Funny story, they were like, “oh, we’ll help you get these set up” thinking there was going to be future contracts and work involved,” and then the Chinese were like, “yoink” and backwards engineered the technology. Innit speh-shul?
The second class soft-sleepers are slower, four-bunk cabins. Now, fortunately, I’m short by US standards, which means I’m taller here, Praise Black Baby Jesus. Soft sleepers are about as comfortably as I can travel.
Last and certainly least are the hard-sleepers. I just spent 17 hours on one of these six-to-a-cabin nightmare experiences.
Imagine hell, alternately too hot and too cold. Add cramped spaces, screaming children, and a bathroom that can only be described as the screaming maw of hades, from which no escape is possible.
If there is a god in heaven, there’s nothing beyond this last option. If there is, I shudder to think of it.