Ulan Bator to
Hello out there!
The train from Moscow to Beijing
The Great Wall seen from the train.
Leg#4: Trans-Mongolian route
Length of journey: 32 hours
October 1, 2006
It is now time to get on our last train. <Sniff sniff>. I’m just happy that most of this train ride will be during the day rather than at
night. This way we will actually get to see the scenery.
The train is snaking around right now. For the first time we are able to view our train while we are on it as it goes around the
curves. I guess most of the other trains were more or less going in a straight line? We’re all having fun with this and poking our
heads out so that others can take pictures. The desert scenery isn’t too bad either…
Ladies and gentlemen…we have had some Batrian (a.k.a. double-humped) camel sightings in the desert!
We just made our first stop on this train ride in a Mongolian town where kids were selling quartz rocks. That’s a new one that I
haven’t seen before on the train platforms.
I just finished my book (Digital Fortress) that I started the other day. I hate reading two books at once but Shantaram is going to
take me a while to get through. Digital Fortress is being passed around our group. I decided I would be the next to read it as it is a
quick read and then I don’t have to haul off an additional book with me. Since I am now done with it, I think I am going to take a
nap and then I will continue on with Shantaram.
Holy barren desert! We are going through the Gobi and I must say that this has got to be the most flat and desolate place I have
ever seen. Nothing but sand…a whole lot of sand.
I just checked out the restaurant car on the train. Talk about atmosphere – it felt like being in an actual restaurant.
Border crossings are about to begin in about thirty minutes. This means that bathroom privileges are officially over as of right now.
This means that it is time to dehydrate – no beverages until we start chugging along from the China border.
We just had a Mongolian customs official check our cabin. Damn, was she a hardass! It was like being scrutinized by security at the
airport. She took us one by one and made us open our bags for her.
I’m bored. We’re still at the Mongolian border. I’m going to take a nap.
I just got woken up and my roomies gave me the Chinese entry form to fill out. I obviously thought ‘Great, we’re in China!’ My
roomies had to inform me that we were not in China and we were still parked in Mongolia. Are we ever going to leave here? We are
not allowed off the train and all of the bathrooms are locked – this is all bad news as I have to pee.
The provodniks on this train are very nice. I just asked nicely if I could pleeeease use the toilet. Without begging and pleading, he
handed me his key. Who knew it would be that easy?
We have entered China! We are now just waiting on the train for our passports to be stamped and all of the fun formality stuff.
Seeing the buildings and the writing already makes me feel like I am a world away from Mongolia.
We’re still at the station but I just got really excited as they have music playing. Their current selection is the instrumental version
of Whitney Houston’s ‘Greatest Love of All’. I love this song! Not only that, I love old school Whitney Houston. It’s really too bad
what came of her. She could have probably had any guy in her day…and she chose Bobby.
Passports just got stamped. Piece o’ cake.
We were told that this train would need to re-adjust its wheels. Trish (our tour leader) also informed us that we ‘would know’ when
this was happening. There is no question about it that it is happening at this very moment. It feels less like wheels adjusting and
more like a game of bumper trains. If I wasn’t so tired, I would probably find it fun. But I am tired so instead it is just noisy and
bumpy. In any case, I am going to attempt to sleep through the rest of this…
October 2, 2006
Oh what a beautiful morning! The land that we are passing in China is beautiful. The first things I saw were some very nice Asian-
esque trees. I got up and stared out the window for about thirty minutes and just watched – mountains behind a hazy layer of fog,
men working on the railroad, trees of all different types, donkeys, a train in the distance moving parallel with our train. I think I’m
going to like it here!
I just saw the Great Wall from afar!
The landscape keeps changing. It is just beautiful out here. Big mountains in the background. Corn fields. Donkeys in the corn fields.
Trees changing colors. This last leg of the train ride is definitely not disappointing.
Oh my gosh. We literally just the Great Wall in all its glory. It was right next to the train. Incredible.
It is really hot and I think I am ready to get off the train. We have about another hour or so. We should have gotten into Beijing
around 2pm but will now get in around 4pm because of the delay in Mongolia.
Time to wrap this up. We are in Beijing! So, so sad that this adventure is now over…