Saturday, November 01, 2008

Mongolia : Day 1

As we were too cheap to fly, and too adventurous to pass up a partial ride along the famed Trans Siberian Railroad, we began our Mongolian adventure with a 30 hour train ride.
From Beijing Dou

Here's the three of us, looking chipper, preparing to board our 7:45am train out of Beijing.

As you can see, we settled into our hard-class sleeper bunks quite quickly.
From Beijing Dou

The gentle rocking (aside from the occasional inexplicable jolt) of the train lulled us into semi-consciousness. In between naps, we watched the northern Chinese countryside zoom past us.
From Beijing Dou

I do mean that literally.
From Beijing Dou

At some point in the late afternoon, someone looked out the window and mumbled, "hey, the Great Wall..." We took a short break from Big 2 to snap a quick shot:
From Beijing Dou

We ate. A lot. And eventually, the sun set.
From Beijing Dou

Then things got really interesting. We hit the Chinese border around 10. But, apparently, the Mongolian rail engineers weren't really talking to the Chinese ones, because the rail gauges are different. So we had to wait for 3 1/2 hours inside a customs checkpoint while the wheels were changed. We braved the mad crowds and loaded up on snacks using some advanced elbow technique.

Since the three of us had been feeling kind of sick, we had each eagerly popped a tylenol cold (drowsy!), only to have it hit us while in the waiting room at customs. Justin snapped this picture of us struggling to stay awake.

We got back on the train by 12:30, but spent the next two hours stopping and starting our way through the Mongolian border. Being startled awake by the salute of an imposing Monglian border official in leather boots, woolen coat, and Soviet style hat was certainly a new one for me. Finally, we were through, and we could sleep.

I awoke early, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Gobi desert. My geography's poor, but this might be it:
From Beijing Dou


The landscape was drastically different from China. People had warned us that Mongolia would be cold. Really cold.
From Beijing Dou

We pulled into Ulaan Baatar slightly late, around 2pm. We stumbled groggily off the train and met up with the owner of the hostel we would be staying at...

All in all, it was a pleasant train ride. M and I got a little depressed when we realized the train beds were more comfortable than our bed at the apartment. A sad sad realization. I'm not sure if I could last all the way to Moscow, although Justin and M certainly seem to thrive on the train.

Anyway, that's it for our first day. You can look forward to more later!

1 comment:

tamela said...

wow your pics of the countryside are amazing! i can't believe all the snow everywhere that's crazy cold. look forward to hearing some more adventures :)