Sunday, May 25, 2014

Moscow to Beijing - day 6 - Mongolia

There is an alternative route to Beijing via Manchuria but most foreign travelers use the route through Mongolia.

John and Rob woke me at Ulaanbaatar, the capitol of Mongolia. We were now in the same time zone as China and I finally changed my watch from Moscow time to China time.

I must admit that I was feeling a bit seedy that morning. To be honest, I don't know why. The cloudy overcast sky certainly did not help.

I took a few photos and managed to capture this older lady in traditional costume.

Later we met an older Irish bloke on the train who claimed that his credit card had been stolen from his cabin while he was walking on the platform. Within 30 minutes the thieves had extracted over $1000 from ATM machines.

The train set off again and we passed some sort of amusement park.

John and I were going to hold a competition to see who could see the most yurts. He lay down for a couple of minutes and within that time I had seen dozens.

Yurts everywhere.

The toilet. The paper ran out at some stage but all of us were prepared with our own rolls. The attendants were not particularly diligent about replacing the rolls and a couple of times I had to ask for a new roll.

The Mongolian dining car. The waitress was somewhat brusque and not nearly as friendly as the Russian waitress.

The menu was limited and only about half the items were available.

The coffee was instant. Nescafe I think and distinctly wishy-washy after the strong Russian coffee.

For breakfast I had an omelette on a piece of relatively fresh brown bread. Let me just say that toast works better under eggs.

Decorations in the dining car.

High antennas. The train started to climb hills and circled around this group of antennas for quite some time.

The track almost looped back on itself. We had passed on that section of track a few minutes before.

The first sheep we saw on the journey.

There must be a termite problem. All the wooden posts were attached like this to concrete posts.

Choyr. The guide book describes this building as like a wedding cake.

A statue to Mongolia's cosmonaut who went into space in 1981. I am sure they must have used my body as the model.

The compartment for our carriage's attendants. I suspect they ate better than we did.

A much drier landscape than Siberia.

At times, the ground looked sandy.

Saynshand. Nearby is supposed to be the ruins of an old Russian military air base but I did not manage to see it.

Instead we saw these spiffy pods where the locals could sell their produce. 

This building was a toilet. I decided not to indulge.

One woman did not have a pod and snuck in late with her own table of sandwiches.

A diesel engine passed in the opposite direction emitting a lot of smoke.

Ceiling inside the waiting room.

I went inside the waiting room and managed to take this shot without them noticing.

Of course there had to be a dog.

I finished up with what turned out to be some sort of sausage roll. OK but nothing great.

Our Malaysian friends.

Rob bought a bottle of water and was amused by the label showing what was in the water.

He was pleased to see that there was no oil or grease in the water.

Rob purchased a large bottle of coke.

The land got progressively drier. We could have been in the Aussie outback.

The Mongolians also do the yellow stick routine but they provide a special podium.

More from the menu. I can't remember the exchange rate but the food was quite inexpensive and we could pay in US dollars or Russian rubles.

On Rob's recommendation, I had the beef thing from the upper left of the menu. The meat was delicious.

I was not surprised to see horses in Mongolia.

We reached the Chinese border and were issued these forms to fill in. A Chinese woman directed us in how to fill in the Customs form. As usual, the immigration officer looked at our passports to make sure that we had the proper visa and then took the passports away. Eventually he returned and hand them back along with the Departure Card. They also collected the Customs form.

We were issued meal vouchers for the next day in the Chinese restaurant car. Second class passengers received them as well.

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