7600 km in 5 days - The Transmongolian Train
[G2:12377 n=1 class="left" exactsize=180 frame=dots] After my exciting stay in china, its now time to think of the way back home, I'll take the Train to Moskau, in contrast du my earlier plans from east to west. As I already mentioned, I got all my visa on time, even though I wasted plenty of time with waiting.
On the trainstation in Beijing I was on the wrong floor and followed a crowd into the wrong direction, but obviously this group wasn't on the way to moscow. After some walking forth and back, I didn't find the mysterious waiting hall. I asked for the train to moscow and she pointed to the lower floor.
After it was clear that it must be somewhere on the ground floor I found the waiting hall very quickly with mostly foreigners waiting to bord the train.
The bording turned out to be a boring experience which required some patience, some chinese were thoroughly checked and even the luggage was weight. The time was tight in the end, and the bording got faster. I bought something to drink and searched for my compartment.
In the beginning I had a compartement together with a german couple, and I finally got to speak some German again. The train left on time, and we left Beijing on the way into the steppe in the inner mongolia. The view was beatiful, at first through karst and then into the flat country side with less and less vegetation. They gave away coupons for dinner and the time flew by.
In the restaurant were all the people I alrady knew, and I spent some time after dinner with talking in the dining car. The group disolved when the Departure Cards from China were distributed, it was already dark.
On the border to mongolia we stayed for several hours, passport control, costums control, changing the wheels on the carriage, and finally nearly 2am (Beijing Time) we went into mongolia.
When I was awake early in the morning, I looked out of the window, and only Sand, we were in the midst of the Gobi desert. Exactly the way you think it would be, just sand as far as your eyes can see. There wer clouds haning above the desert and it was quite cold. Its not quite like the thing you expect in one of the bigest deserts in the world. A few hours later the steppe is beginning againd and some time before Ulan-Bataar you even see some lonely trees again.
[G2:12401 n=1 class="left" exactsize=180 frame=dots] A big group left in Ulan-Bataar, and the train got quite empty, Ulan-Bataar was a fascinating city, most of the people don't live in houses, they still live in their yurts.
The evening is getting late again, this time, border crossing to russia. The russian border control is as expected, very thorough at least on the surface and a bit annoying after the third time crossing the wagon. The entry procedures take ages and it is early in the morning until we can finally fall into our beds.
In the morning you get rewarded with a great view over lake Baikal. For several hours the train is following the huge lakes border. We go away from the lake shortly after Sludyanka and head for Irkutsk the next big city on the shores of Lake Baikal.
After that we drove through a neverending wood, sometimes broken apart with some fields, rivers or cities. We rush through some bigger cities, Irkutsk, Zima, Nishni Udinsk... still you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere.
[G2:12605 n=1 class="left" exactsize=180 frame=dots] The time zones fly by, or you still live in Peking Time, even when you are in the middle of Russia. On day 5. we finally arrive in Europe. Only 1777km to Moskau. We wait for the Obelisk on the border, we rush by with 120km/h, the pictures are rather bad, only one day left till Moscow. Its impressive how fast the this trainjourney went by, the last evening went by fast, I still in Peking time went to bed very late, according to local time, I went to bed early.
On day 6 the suburbs of Moscow came into view, I packed my bag and I was eager to take a long shower in my Hotel.