Sleeping Chinese Train Passengers: Funny or Sad?

A Chinese train passenger using a "Burberry" scarf tied around the back of his seat to keep his head up while sleeping.

A Chinese train passenger using a "Burberry" scarf tied around the back of his seat to keep his head up while sleeping.

China’s October 1st National Day long holiday is approaching and many Chinese people will be traveling during this time. For many migrant workers, the holiday is a chance to go home to see their families and friends. Train travel is the most affordable, but it is often the slowest and most uncomfortable. This results in some unusual and unflattering sights. Many Chinese netizens find these sights amusing, but many others find it too easy to empathize…

From Sina Weibo:

@糗事大百科: My heart breaks for every person sleeping on a train…

Comments from Sina Weibo:


My heart breaks for those people who didn’t manage to get seats/sleepers and want to sleep but have to stand in the aisles unable to sleep as well as constantly stand aside to let the snack/food vendor carts pass by.


Is this really funny? The majority of those taking the trains are working people, every year carrying innumerable bags onto trains to make some money from their hard labors. Who wouldn’t rather take the plane if they had money? Who wants to spend so much of their time on the road? Maybe they can’t see this, but doesn’t this count as violating other people’s privacy? (Personal opinion and if you don’t like it, there’s nothing I can do anyway :)


[挖鼻屎] Am I the only one who mistook the eighth picture?


If they weren’t completely exhausted, could they have fallen asleep? Heartbreaking!


This is why I want to criticize the idiot who designed the hard seats on trains!


Every single person who had slept on a train was an angel with broken wings in their past life [拜拜] Please cherish them…


Actually, these are quite depressing.


Missing Person Notice: One night two years ago on the day before National Day on a train from Harbin to Beijing, a 20-something young guy borrowed/took my little stool. Later, I don’t know where he went, and the train car was too packed so I couldn’t find him. The stool was a gift from my first love. We’re to be married soon, and my first love says if I can’t find the stool, we won’t get married. Everyone help me.


The either picture, what the hell…


I’ve seen these [types of situations] before and frankly what I want to say is that they are actually quite tired [have it hard].

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Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

  • da_shan223

    having been on a Chinese train, i think the scarf over the face idea is ingenious…reduced noise, smells, light…no need to attempt to keep neck straight while bobbing in and out of sleep interrupted by loud announcements from employees who double as merchandise reps. overall win.

    • mr.wiener

      …but imagine waking up like that.

  • zachary T

    wow, those poor tired people…and I had to double take on 7, I didn’t even think about 8, thank you Chinese netizens!

  • Irvin

    With just 2 to 3 hundred rmb more, they could have taken a plane.

    • AbC

      That’s only if 200-300rmb doesn’t mean anything to them… They’d rather endure the tiring trip and give their family (mum/dad/kids) that 200-300 more.

      • lacompacida

        That 200-300 yuan is what feeds their family at home for a month. And you want to spend it flying ?

        • Sum Ting Wong

          300 yuan to feed a family for a month? Please tell me where about in China.

          • Xia

            In any rural village

          • 笑了


          • David

            You can get a big bowl of chow fan or chow mein in any city for 5-6 Yuan. If you live in a rural village and cook it yourself rice is even cheaper. That is just off the top of my head, I am sure if you are not fussy you can get more to eat even cheaper. Many poor people in rural areas make less than 700 RMB/month.

      • Ryo Saeba

        Or they could’ve stayed where they were and send everything back home.

        I’ve known, and still know, lots of Chinese that endure suffering and penny pinching just to say they saved money, even though they are not poor.

    • RickyBeijing

      Bullshit. The plane tickets during the busy times are well into the four figures and sold out in seconds. I know because I tried.

      • Free Man

        You tried using the wrong service. I can get one way tickets for around 600 RMB, Beijing/Shanghai -> Wuhan. Maybe look for a service that doesn’t add 1000% laowei fee.

        • RickyBeijing

          For during the Golden Week? Post a link, I’d like to see that!

          • David

            Me too, I have looked everywhere and prices are just skyrocketed, even worse than last year.

  • AbC

    That eighth picture (2nd last)… was only there to lead us to the wrong conclusion.

  • lacompacida

    Does this happen any where else ? If not, why not ? Part of the systematic advantage of the Chknese model ?

    • Ryo Saeba

      India is much much worse. You probably wouldn’t even get to sleep.

      • Zappa Frank

        I wonder if old people complain because there is no seat…

  • Amused

    Well, just think. It could always be worse… If it was India, you’d have all this and the ever-pervasive odor of curry.

    • Percy

      Instead you have the ever-pervasive mixed odours of instant noodles, stale cigarettes, urine and dirty Chinese migrant workers.

      • RickyBeijing

        and shit, let’s not forget when nainai let’s the little prince drop trou and shit in the fucking aisle.

    • David Kuo

      and probably a little gang rape thrown into the mix as well

  • I’ve always been amazed by the Chinese ability to make do and fall asleep any place

    • If I May

      I’ve always been amazed by the Chinese ability to make do and not let me fall asleep any place. I wish that I was a bit more Chinese regarding your observation.

    • Pakonas

      Definitely, I also admire such a ability. Some people even can sleep standing up.

    • jianfei

      I cant understand how Chinese can just fall asleep almost instantly! Its a really good skill.. I’ve always admired the simplicity of it. My GF would say good night and within 1-2 minutes she is snoring and in a deep sleep!

  • Davidmed77

    I think it is sad. There should be more trains scheduled for peak times. Most of these people pay full price to stand. I understand the trains argument that if the price was reduced many would not buy a seat, but couldn’t you simply not allow standing tickets to sell until all seats ans sleepers are full. Then run a few more trains then normally scheduled at peak seasons.

  • LuoyangLaowai

    I always feel bad for the people with the standing tickets. Especially after I had to stand 11 hours once from Xi’an to Lanzhou on a Overcrowded train. That was one of the the worst experiences of my life.

  • LuoyangLaowai

    Why havn’t I seen any comments about the photo in the Middle. haha. Thats got to be staged. But its still funny to look at.

  • Zappa Frank

    on the picture number 6 the girl is really sleeping in that way? I’m always impressed by the flexibility of Chinese..

    • Free Man

      Thanks for highlighting this, i didnt even notice. Hilarious position, though I think he was doing some exercise and someone took a picture and someone else used it to bring substance into this article.

  • must touch brain

    I like how the government took advantage of the increased incomes of ordinary Chinese who want more time to travel and then make the holiday a little longer in order to coax them into spending more money during the holiday. But just what is this National Day all about? Praising the great military of the CCP? As if it deserves a full week of celebrating. I guess communism is it’s own religion in a land without widespread organized religion. If i was an ordinary citizen, i would think twice about falling into this trap and spending my time and energy to benefit the government and just stay at home. No one is forcing these people to travel.

    • Xia

      In compare to developed countries, China has very few holidays. So those days are the rare occasions when migrant workers have time to travel across many provinces to spend time with their family in their home town/village.

      • must touch brain

        I know that life can be difficult in China but there’s no need to make it more difficult by moving away and taking long, exhausting train rides to visit one’s family. Why not live near family if you want to see them so badly that you’re willing to suffer such commutes?We have to agree that the Chinese government benefits the most from this.

        • Kai

          Golden Week holidays were partly designed to boost domestic consumption (something that is important if China ever plans on getting beyond an economy tied to manufacturing), but that wasn’t the only reason. Other reasons included specifically giving migrant workers enough mandatory days off so they have enough time to actually make those long trips home to visit family.

          Also, there’s actually a disruption to the economy caused by these long holidays, so whatever gains in tourism and travel consumption have to be offset by those disruptions (manufacturing and other service industries for example). There’s really no clear argument at all that “the Chinese government benefits the most from this”.

          National Day is like any other country’s founding holiday, like July 4th in the US. Whether or not it deserves a full week of celebration is up to them. It was made into a Golden Week not because anyone thought the founding of the PRC deserved a week of celebration, but for other much more mundane reasons like those mentioned above (stimulating consumption and facilitating family reunions, something that is important in Chinese society).

          Nobody really moves away from home with the intent of making their lives more difficult. They do so because they’ve concluded the benefits outweigh the costs. Usually, this means the job opportunities and income justifies the hassle of being farther from their hometowns. They make calculated decisions AND sacrifices like we all do.

          • must touch brain

            Excellent response. I guess those long trips to visit family is just one of those sacrifices. I do it as well and hate the long flights but i don’t feel sorry for myself as it was my decision to live far away from my family :) I still think the government has a lot to gain from changing the holiday calendar to extend the holidays. It’s their motivation.

        • Xia

          The migrant workers move to the cities from rural provinces to find employment and better pay, as the industry in China is currently concentrated along the coast. They send back the money they earned to the rest of their family, which is often unable to work (children and old people), to support their living and in case of children also their education.

          The Hukou system ( ) does not allow their entire family to permanently settle in the cities.

          Even if they are allowed, they can’t afford the expensive accommodation and living expenses for an entire family. With 500 RMB they may be able to live for many months in a rural area, but hardly for a week in a big city.

          What may be a solution is to move the industries further inland and distribute them more evenly among the provinces, so there won’t be a crammed traffic from the coast to the inlands during primetime holidays.

          • must touch brain

            Excellent response.

    • 笑了


      • must touch brain

        Sorry. I think you’ve got the wrong person.

  • that guy

    we are reading a story about people’s funny sleeping positions on a train…

    I think there’s more interesting stuff going on in the world, Chinasmack. Read: Hong Kong

    • Dannisi

      ChinaSmack does the Chinese internet ;)

    • Free Man

      Looking forward to a mod explaining for the millionth time to explain that this website brings stuff thats hot in china and not hot in our opinion.

      But I agree, I am more curious about what chinese voices have to say about the events in HK right now, though I have a pretty good guess. Especially because I spent enough time on chinese trains to not care about this particular piece of “news”.

      • Kai

        How did you get through a million explanations and still think Fauna translated this because it is “news”?

        • Free Man

          Sorry, I am not sure what you want (maybe because I didn’t get my coffee this morning or smoked too much pot yesterday, or both).

          • Kai

            Heh, you poked fun at us and we’re poking fun back.

            cS doesn’t aim to translate “news”, just internet content that is arguably trending/popular, whether that be a piece of “news” or not. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to say you don’t care about “this particular piece of ‘news’.”

    • mr.wiener

      What free guy just said.
      What is of interest is that Chinese are NOT talking about what is going down in HK and many stories of limited interest such as that “gun battle” in Ganxi are being hyped and artificially put in prominance on the Chinese interwebs.
      Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

    • Xia

      That there is no story on Hong Kong on ChinaSmack says a lot about the Chinese Internet in the mainland…

  • Brido227

    The girl in the 6th picture will have no difficulty finding a date for the holidays. It pays to advertise.

  • Rick in China

    What the fuck is up with the little yellow short kid trying to give himself a blowy, how can someone possibly sleep like that – wouldn’t sleep require a somewhat rested/relaxed position? He looks tensed up, it must be….wtf.

    • SongYii

      autofellatio always makes me sleepy

  • Xia

    Position 5 looks funny

  • JayJay

    Where is the news about Hong Kong Occupy Central protest???

    • SongYii

      what are you talking about?

      • JayJay

        I am talking about why hasn’t Chinasmack reported on the Occupy Central Movement in Hong Kong. But I suppose it is not worth reporting as any dissenting comments by the Netizens will be ‘harmonised’.

        • SongYii

          :-D I knew what you were talking about….

        • Perth

          Because no ordinary mainland Chinese knows whats going on in Hongkong right now. Occupy Central are sensitive words which do not appear on any kind of media, conventional or modern. Any posts related are deleted right way.

          • Kwok

            Thats not true.I am a mainland Chinese,we know what happening in HK,from weibo and news we know it cleary,but the mainland citizen really just dont care about it.Search“香港占中”which means ” Hong Kong Occupy Central protest”in Baidu,lots of news about it .

  • diverdude7

    Luke the baby gook likes smell of ass ?

  • Rose

    One time I tried to buy an overnight train ticket for the same day(during an offseason) and the train that day had already sold out sleepers, so I was stuck with either a hard seat or waiting until the next day. Admittedly, I tried at 5 pm, so the fault was all my own. Thus began my first hard seat train adventure. Wasn’t too bad actually, because on that particular train, the seats were more like couches than individual seats. All of them were filled, too. At first, all my neighbors were curious and there was a particular chatty guy who wanted to talk until he got off a few hours later, but I managed to get back to my book eventually. Most people also got off a few hours into the trip(around 12:00 AM),so I could claim one couch and sleep away, hugging my belongings to myself until 6:00 AM when the train arrived at my destination. I couldn’t imagine, however, trying to do this for a couple of days, like a lot of people do – and I bet most don’t have the luck I did that night. One night is enough.

  • Xio Gen

    I like to sleep on the train. The movement and soft rocking is so soporific. It’s very relaxing. I think ive been conditioned from childhood. So this isn’t pathetic or sad. It’s genius. Too bad they haven’t heard of neck pillows in China.

  • jianfei

    that guy with the yellow shorts looks like he is self sucking! HAHAHAH