I had made plans to travel from Beijing to Xi’an, the capital of northwestern Shaanxi province and the imperial capital of China for centuries.
The distance between the two cities is around 746 miles, making it slightly more than two hours by plane, 11 hours by car, and anywhere between 11.5 hours and 17.5 hours on a regular train.
On China’s top-of-the-line “bullet train,” the journey takes 4.5 hours.
If I wanted to travel a comparable distance in the US by train – at 712 miles, New York to Chicago is the closest – it would take 22 hours, with a transfer in Washington, DC. And that’s with traveling on Amtrak’s Acela Express, currently the fastest train in the US with a speed up to 214 km/h (150 mph).
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