Had wanted to catch the train to Tibet because it is the highest train in the world. It crossed a pass at over 5000 metres. Like any train there are all sorts of options of travel. Soft sleeper is where 4 people are in a cabin, 2 sets of bunks and there is a door on the compartment. Was feeling cheap that day, so went hard sleeper. We were the only foreigners in these carriages. Which is 2 sets of 3bunks stacked to the roof and no door to the compartment. All the foreigners are generally in the soft sleepers and the “richish” Chinese in the hard sleepers. The more hardy folk go either hard seat or soft seat. Which means they have normal seats and need to sleep sitting up.
The train was a worthwhile experience but not on my shortlist of things to do again. The views are spectacular, from sand dunes, to aqua water, barren plains, fields of yak, arid mountains to snow capped mountains. However you go stir crazy even being able to walk around. All the Chinese bring their own food, so it is a 24/7 picnic. I was on the top bunk, and it was like everest getting up everytime. Was happy that I went with the 24 hour experience. I guess it would be fun if you had the entire cabin with friends or family or people who spoke the same language. Otherwise it always feels awkward.
Did try and hide out in the dining car, but the very unfriendly staff kept on chasing us out.
Interesting thing is the train has extra oxygen pumped into the cabins to help overcome altitude sickness. Then next to each bed was a special outlet for individuals to attached nose pieces and get extra oxygen. A decent number of people were using these as we got higher. I felt the pressure in my head for a day did have shortness of breath but in general there was not problem.
Back to the terrain. What is incredible about Tibet is that the majority of it is a plateau which is between 3-4000 metres high. It is very dry with huge plains and then decent size mountains on top.