HSR 405 to Tainan

We're pretty buzzed about our new Taiwan High Speed Rail. Want to go for a ride?

Let's go to Tainan. We buy our ticket at Taipei Main Station from a touch-screen machine that features instructions in Chinese and English. But we could have bought our ticket online, or from any of the well-dressed people standing about.

Making this trip to Tainan by normal rail means a four-hour ride in a crowded car with many people standing. By bus the trip lasts the same amount of time, but only if you encounter no traffic jams along the way. Add congestion and the trip can easily take six or seven hours.

But this? Our ticket says we will leave Taipei at 9:15 and disembark in Tainan at 11:08.

Now finish eating your mantou. It's time to board.

We steal a quick look through a window. The aisle is wide and will easily accommodate our luggage.

We enter. Everything has that new car smell. We stow our bags overhead and take our seats. The trays in front of us show us where to find everything.

And we're off!

The train accelerates through a series of tunnels. The ride is smooth and quiet. No clackety clacks. Like the monorail at Disney World, only bigger--and you don't have a narrator who keeps telling you what a wonderful time you're having.

Light streams through the windows. We're in the open.

We make stops in Taoyuan and Hsinchu. The train then gathers speed for the longer stretch to Taichung. We reach a top speed of 285 kilometers per hour.

After letting some passengers off in Taichung we head into Chiayi.

After the Chiayi stop we begin gathering our luggage. Tainan is next.

We pull into the station at 11:08.

The driver looks to make sure the side of the train is clear. The last stop for the 405 is Zuoying, near Kaohsiung.

The train whooshes away.

The station is bathed in natural light. The spacious lobby features exhibits promoting the city's annual Orchid Festival.

We enjoy some sushi and soft drinks from the 7-Eleven before heading into town.

Tonight we ride another train back. We board at 20:45 and take our leave at Taipei Main Station, where our journey began.

I've enjoyed your company on the journey. Thanks!


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