This post was edited by WhiteBear at 2013-1-22 17:59|
Night bus(sleeping bus)
Guide for(and by) laowai.
If You liketo have quick and comfortable journey, calm, and with good “on board” service, the choice of “on board entertainment” and roomy personal space… choose the plane J
Bus is for those of us (laowai), who wants to travel on long distance the same way “average local people” does.
It is also good choice if You are the person that can sleep and relax in “very basic” conditions and far from “everyday comfort”.
While I used a lot of busses on short distances (1-4h drive) – the experience of “long distance bus” was a bit different.
What You have to know to do it by Yourself if You are not fluent in language?
Buying the ticket
- tickets can be bought 2 days before departure
- there is no on-line reservation system, but in the cities every bus station may have “infoline” where Your Chinese friends may check the schedule and price
- to buy the ticket You have to go to the bus station and say (or write):
I want togo to…
Wǒ xiǎng yào qù … (我想要去…)
Then the lady on the other side of glass will show You on the screen some buses available.
If You want to go other day – simplest thing is to write the destination, date and time when You want to depart. It works just fine J
- when You receive the ticket – check carefully if it is the one You want (have to recognize destination in Chinese characters, date and time – it is easy).
Be careful – bus station for long distance busses may be other than the one You bought the ticket in!
If You don’t know Chinese – ask some of Your friends, or at the day of departure - show the ticket to a taxi driver and He will drive You to the correct one.
- avoid drinking big amounts of any fluids (including soup), or eating a lot of food before the journey. Toilet in the bus is the place when You sometimes have to go, but better not too frequent (for obvious reasons).
- wear “travel clothes” – comfortable, “easy washable”, but not new or valuable (temperature in the bus is always surprise – sometimes hot, sometimes cold, and better be prepared for both if You want to have comfortable rest)
- use toilet once again just before the departure
prepare Your luggage
if You have big baggage – it is ok to put it in the trunk “as it is”. If You are afraid about getting Your belongings a little dirty – just use some stretch foil around it.
if You have “middle size” baggage, that You would usually take with You as a “carry on” – take all delicate and expensive items to the other (small!) case, or the pockets of Your coat, and baggage itself put into “unsuspicious and average looking” outer bag (to not attract attention of the potential thieves, and to protect it from dirt) and let it be stored in the trunk. This kind of bags can be bought in shop at bus station for few RMB (You can use it many times, or just once – if the expense of 5-10 kuai is acceptable).
all baggage stored into the trunk of the bus usually receives sticker with the number, and You receive other part of the sticker to receive Your belongings at the destination.
it is wise to put Your business card or copy of the bus ticket inside the baggage anyway, because when Your baggage loose the sticker, or is accidently picked up by any other person – You can prove this way that it is Yours even not knowing the language.
so what to take with You to the compartment?
- all valuable things that You have to take in this journey (laptop, mobile,money…)
- passport (keep it in weatherproof bag with amount of money that would be enough in “emergency situation”)
- spare battery for Your mobile (or “power bank” with right cables – because when You travel, Your phone is using a lot of energy to “check-in/check-out” at a passing locations)
- small pocket knife (for the fruits, and as a universal tool)
- good quality headphones that can provide You some separation from loud co-travelers and “onboard entertainment system” (unless You like karaoke songs or Chinese movies)
- drinking water (better in 2-3 small bottles then one big, avoid any sweet drinks because drive can be unexpectedly bumpy exactly in the moment when You want to drink)
- snacks (something that don’t need to be “processed” and don’t produce a lot of leftovers – I usually choose some kind of nuts, easy peelable fruits, cookies)
- wet tissues – to refresh the hands and face from time to time (best are those with menthol if You like it, because it provides not only cleaning but also refreshing feeling and smell)
- tissues in small packages – few of them may be enough (don’t expect that the toilet paper is always available…)
- “travel pillow” (maybe this is my own and personal preference, but I find it very useful and more comfortable than the one You find in Your “bed” in the bus)
- sometimes You may like to take cheap warm (fleece?) blanket (about 20-25 RMBin “corner shops”)
- slippers (if You don’t want to walk in the bus wearing only socks)
- address of Your destination place (in Chinese!) – may be on the phone, but it is wise to have at list one on the paper in case that the mobile would discharge during the trip
- addresses of few other recognizable places in the destination city (also in Chinese, "just in case")
Be aware, that the storage place for Your belongings in the carriage is really tiny, and if You would take too much items – it can be a problem to sleep comfortable(sharing Your small bed with the backpack is really not so good idea).
- after You deposited Your main luggage in the trunk – You are directed to the bus doors, where You receive foil bag for Your shoes. Compartment You must enter barefoot, or in own slippers.
- if the bus is “on time” and the places are “numbered” – You should take theone that is printed on Your ticket – as in “normal” bus.
But if the bus is shared with other “departure time” (happens when there are technical problems…or not enough passengers to fill the bus) or there are no “place numbers” – take the one You like. In that case it is always better to be among first “boarding group”.
- some places are different in shape or size and it is up to You which one You like. For me best places are by the window, on the floor level (aircon ducts are only among the windows line, there is only half the number of the passing travelers comparing to “middle row” or “the aisle”, and Your belongings will not fall down comparing to the “second floor beds”).
- if the bus departs at afternoon – during “day” (usually until 21:30) You enjoy the onboard entertainment system (Chinese movies of different kind - kung-fu, comedies, romances… or TV-karaoke songs). What is the program and what volume level is adequate – depends on the drivers.
- drivers changes every 3-6 hours, and at that time is usually 15 minutes stopover at some “service station” where You can buy a snack, drink, or even hot dish, and use the bathroom.
- there is usually additional stopover on some parking site, to not arrive atthe destination too soon (before “destination place” wakes up – that is around 6:00). Depends on the route it can be one hour, but can be three or more. It is better to take all Your valuables when You leave the bus even for a few minutes– that is another (beside lack of the space) reason why You should take onboard only most important items.
- overnight busses are usually scheduled to arrive at morning
- leaving the carriage – always look around if nothing was left
- “baggage claim” is performed at the trunk doors, where You handle Your “number” to the driver, or just point Your bag and show the number to the driver (nowords are needed)
- caution! Some busses stops not in the city centre, or even bus station, but on the “city limits” by the express road toll gate. Be prepared to look for the other transportation to reach a city.
- if Your luggage is light (like backpack) – look for a motorbike taxi (cheap and good to move quickly in the traffic)
- if Your luggage is heavy, there are no motorbike taxis, or You like a bitmore comfort – choose the “marked” taxi with the metering device and force driver to use it (if he don’t turn it on by himself – do it Yourself if You sit in a front by bending the “free sign” down) otherwise the “agreed price” may be twice or more higher then “official”. If the driver objects – take picture of His license number that have to be displayed in the car, usually near the taxi-meter.
- if there is no “marked” (official/legal) taxi – be careful and haggle the price to the reasonable level (it is good to know average taxi prices in that city, and the Chinese numbers – otherwise You can use Your phone as a calculator to haggle the price down)
- if You set the price, and suddenly You are packed into the car with another passengers – haggle once again!
- even if You don’t feel it – You are usually a bit “smelly” after number of hours in closed space with not so clean toilet and the number of not so good washed socks and feets J, so before meeting any human being that may not understand the “travel conditions” it is wise to refresh Yourself
- if You can’t use “regular refreshment” in the bathroom of hotel room, or Your apartment – please consider to use some advices listed below
- if You arrived somewhere in the city centre – reasonable place to refresh is nearby hotel, or at list KFC or McDonald, where at early hours are few customers
- it is good to have “refreshment kit” in Your luggage: small towel (may be disposed, cost about 3-5RMB in “corner shop”), small bottle of clean water, change of underwear and socks, fresh t-shirt, toothbrush (I try to have one of the “hotel packages” to be disposed after the use), deodorant (antiperspirant), and the sealable bag for the replaced clothes (string-seal plastic bag works fine).
For me – long distance bus is a good choice for the situations when I’m not in hurry, don’t have important meetings just after the arrival, and not in the “peak days” (like Chinese New Year).
I choose it also because to the closest airport I have 2-2,5 hours bus ride, and to the train station about 1,5 hour.
But for many of my friends it is not acceptable, if They used to “airline standards”.
There is also the question about safety – claimed by many Chinese media.
Traffic accidents are more frequent then when travelling by plane or train, and because of the construction – there may be more causalities.
So before You decide if You want to use it – think twice.
some pictures that may show the idea of "sleeping bus"
interrior of the passenger compartment - "second floor beds"
interrior of the passenger compartment - pillows and blankets are usually clean
in this bus the beds was equiped only with pillow and warm blanket
passage betwen the isile and window rows of beds - compartion to ship or submarine is adequate
not for a members of "claustrophobia club"
one driver usually relaxes or sleeps, while the other drives
in the overnight bus You share Your "bedroom" with others, You have to accept it - or take other kind of transportation
"onboard enterntainment" TV screens
in this kind of bed - Your feets are under the other's head, not too much place for personal belongings
sometime ladders are only on the "windows side" rows
on the way
bed eqipment - in this case: blanket, pillow, warm blanket, and the cover
interrior of the passenger compartment