I think the day of rest of did me wonders. The overnight train was great. As I had the most expensive ticket, I was able to stay in the VIP lounge. They came and got me when it was time for the train. We left from platform one, and the wealthier people were driven in their cars right up to the carriage, so there were lots of cars on the platform.
The Z16 train was new. Soft sleeper is actually harder than it used to be. Also there are now 4 people rather than 2 per sleeper. So I shared my cabin with three well dressed women. The cabin also had a TV for each bed with about a dozen channels and headphones. There were two American movies mostly dubbed into Chinese and the rest were chinese shows. In the morning we arrived in Beijing. About every two minutes we passed a freight train going the other way. The journey took about 11.5 hours for a little less than 1300 kilometers.
Our little group is small. There is a tour guide, our shr fu, Ewen, Elliot, who is from the USA, an Irainian man who lives in Nevada, A canadian woman, two women from Melbourne and Geelong and a marketing man from the USA who does marketing in the USA for Grasshopper Travel who are running the tour.
I have uploaded the photos to yesterday afternoon. http://flickr.com/photos/yewenyi/