In China’s massive run-up to hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, its cross-border connections with neighbors like Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan are becoming increasingly important. The country sees them as a way to demonstrate the country’s ability to coordinate transport and infrastructure by connecting countries at interconnecting junctions. But China and Pakistan aren’t the only ones giving transit deals to each other. Two other nations — India and Nepal — may soon be racing to give their cities a taste of national honor through treaty terms that recognize each others’ need for better highways and infrastructure, as well as a nod toward cooperation in trade and tourism, something between them needs more of. Asia Wire highlights these six journeys that feel familiar to travelers and part of their origins:
China: Hakodate by Railway (Mongolia) • In 2012, the Mongol government agreed to give China 30-year rights to restore and operate the Hakodate Railway, which crosses the Chinese border and winds along the banks of the Yangtze River. The railway is 26 miles long, runs along the isolated southern corner of China’s Lhasa Archipelago and has a station at Terek on the other side. Since 2012, private companies in Mongolia have started building the railway, which could eventually be as long as 68 miles. Hakodate lies east of the capital Lhasa and is famous for its once elegant but now decaying train station. Railway Passengers are due to embark on the new route this month.
[All photos by Wayan Obomsawin/AP]
Japan: Kashiwa-and-Yeijo train trip • The Kashiwa-and-Yeijo railway takes travelers from Kanagawa Prefecture through the Japanese countryside to Yamaguchi Prefecture. Connecting the Kashiwa stop, the Kodama line, the Kashiwa Hill-to-Sunset line and the Kumamoto line, the course goes through forests, under forests, through towns and back into the countryside. Kashiwa is a sort of counterpart to the ancient trading city of Kyoto. Tourists often bypass the West Japan Railway Kashiwa line, the last major one standing in Japan, if they don’t have time to follow the beautifully eerie station. Japan’s train journeys work very differently from other forms of transportation, with stations at one end of the line and train cars and coaches. Tourists can choose to board a train at one stop, rather than approaching from a different direction — one way, in other words — or vice versa. Japan became the first country to allow multiple-car trains in 1920, when Kashiwa became the only station to have multiple carriages.
[All photos by Shizuo Kambayashi/AP]
India: Nagpur Express train trip • The Nagpur Express train trip was developed by the Planning Commission in 1990. It runs for eight days between Mumbai and Nagpur, passing through Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. While the journey is fairly short, the sense of scale of the area you’re in means you should stay overnight at a station that’s halfway between the far-away city and the nearest village. A former prime minister’s office is located at the Nagpur stop, and the Visakha-Varanasi National Highway, the route that runs through all eight states, was made possible by a treaty with Pakistan, signed in 1959, allowing access to the Chinese border via Nagpur. The line of tracks run west from the railway station along the banks of the Gangotri river to the Yarlung Tsangpo highway.
[All photos by Robert Zarro/AP]
Nepal: Pokhara-Kathmandu railway trip • It’s hard to overstate just how beautiful Nepal is. The country’s largest city, Kathmandu, is a solid hour outside the reach of most tourists, and then there’s the beautiful, forested countryside. The longest train ride in Nepal is from Pokhara to Kathmandu, but you can also combine the journey with stopovers in western and western-northern Nepal, especially at the famed Maungdaw district, which passes through the Neelum Gorge. The longest stop is at Khamelgaon, a small settlement on the Kantawai River, and it’s a good stop as well for those who have a good view of the Neelum Gorge — an old UNESCO World Heritage Site — from the car. The path also gives access to museums and pristine forests.
[All photos by Shizuo Kambayashi/AP]
Thailand: the Mizoram train trip • The