On the high speed train from Nanjing South Station to Shanghai Hongqiao yesterday, an attendant went down the aisle pushing a KFC cart. I had always wondered why they hadn’t thought to do a tie up before. A passenger sitting next to me said McDonalds is also sold on some trains. All for inflated prices.
As Chinese trains had gotten faster and cleaner, the quality of the on-board food also got worse the past few years. The old slow trains had kitchens where passable—even tasty—stir-fried dishes were cooked (and still do on those routes where slow trains exist). High speed rail came along and got rid of home cooking, replacing it with reheated plastic trays of precooked food.
American brand fast food is no delicacy, but if you are going to eat a quick garbage meal, McDonalds is a lot tastier than what passes for food in the high speed rail dining car.
Upon arrival in Shanghai, the recorded announcement stated (in Chinese), “Jiaduobao reminds you, don’t forget your belongings…” (Jiaduobao is a brand of herbal tea.) The English language announcement included no such advertisement.
Mitchell Blatt is a travel writer, editor, and columnist who has lived and worked in China for six years. He is an author of two guidebooks, Panda Guides Hong Kong and Panda Guides China. He has been published in National Interest.org, The Korea Times, The Shanghai Daily, Roads & Kingdoms, Vagabond Journey, City Weekend, Silkwinds and The World of Chinese, among other outlets. See examples of his published articles.