To get from Dali to Lijiang, you can take a train or a bus. I took a train, because it was only two hours compared to five. But it ended up feeling like seventeen hours, so maybe the bus is a better option after all.
Arrival at Dali train station. Look at those stairs you need to get your luggage up. I pitied myself for only the ten seconds it took before I saw a woman with two full sized suitcases navigate the steps without any help.
I had a choice between a seat and a hard sleeper bed. I chose seat. I got on the train and immediately noticed it made a stop inside an inferno before pulling into the station, and had retained all the inferno’s heat.
I confirmed my car number and thought I had mistakenly purchased a hard sleeper ticket after all since this was a hard sleeper car. Then I just assumed that the seats are us being seated on lower bunks in hard sleeper cabins,
I find my cabin and take a seat. There are already four women in there, all sitting on lower bunks. More than halfway through the trip, I realized I did not belong in here. I belonged in an actual seat outside the cabin. See, when I had taken China trains before, the seats outside the cabin were not sold as seats. But I guess on shorter rides they are. At this point I had been in the cabin for too long to try and explain my error to the poor dude who was in what I now believed was my seat, that I totally messed up. So I stayed. I don’t think he was that upset since he voluntarily helped me with my luggage at the end of the trip.
During the ride, women will come through with drinks and snacks for you to purchase. On this trip, some woman was coming through with little tablets that looked either like breath mints or those little dishwasher soap packets. I was not sure what it was and since no one else accepted one so I could watch and see what to do with it, I did not accept either.
Here was the view outside the window near the end of the trip:
My hotel in Lijiang had sent a driver to come pick me up for free. When you exit, there is a rope a bit away from the exit where everyone was being met. This is not the first time in China where I saw people being kept far away from the entrance to a train station. China train station fun fact: In order to enter, you have to put your stuff through a scanner. Even with this security, China seems to have some troubles with violence at random train stations.
Ticket cost for a seat was 34 RMB which at time of writing = $5.48 USD I do not exactly recommend this trip. Although we did arrive on time, we spent so much time just stopped still. It was so hot on this train and the stopping just made me crazy. I kept wanting to scream. If I were to do it again, I would give the bus a shot. It may be just as bad, but it could not possibly be worse.