|TICKETS, PLEASE--A controller stands next to the train on its way from Guangzhou/Shenzhen to Xinjiang. Her job is to check tickets and keep the car clean. National Geographic/Matthieu Paley|
|Matthieu Paley of the National Geographic|
|DAY ONE--The first day, it rained over rice fields between Chenzhou and Hengyang, still in the eastern part of China. Rain becomes more scarce as the train approaches the Taklimakan Desert in the west. National Geographic/Matthieu Paley|
IN THE DESERT--An unnoticed (until it was too late) broken window allowed a sudden arriving dust storm to silt the interior of the train.