Monday, July 2, 2012

Train day 4 and early a.m. arrival to Ulaanbaatar on day 5

Yesterday was the first decent internet connection I've had since the start of this trip.  I was able to update the blog with some pictures and daily news, but I didn't want to spend all my time at the computer wasting time on the internet.  We went to bed early because we knew we had an early morning.

We got up at 2:45am for a 3:30 departure to the train station.  At the train station we switched back to Moscow time. We boarded our Mongolian train and started the second leg of the train trip.  We got settled in our cabin and went right back to sleep. I caught a needed additional 4 hours of sleep.  I woke up to see us running parallel to the shore of Lake Baikal.  The Mongolian train is 23 years old and was built in the former East Germany.  It is a lot more basic than our Russian train, but sufficient.  I can certainly envision it being much worse.  Our guide said that our Russian train was the best he's been on, and this is the 10th time he is making this trip.  The Russian train was electric-driven when this train is diesel-electric.  When you flush the toilet you can see the flap open and spill the contents on the track below.

Looking out the window the view is not that different from western slope in Colorado and the western US.  There are rolling plains surrounded by pine forests.  The further south we head the warmer it gets and the more it starts to look like Utah.  The Trans-Mongolian express follows an ancient tea-caravan route from China to Russia through Ulan Bataar and further on to Europe.  The country of Mongolia was established, with the help of Stalin, as a buffer between China and Russia.  He feared an invasion from China.

In one of my blog posts back in 2010, as I visited Uganda, I mentioned an organization located in Denver called Toys for God's kids.  Click here to see a video about this organization.  This trip they supplied me with 100 toy cars to give away to children while on the trip.  I was able to give a few more cars away today on the train to a couple of Buryat children.  They seemed very reluctant and hesitant to accept anything, even when I told them it was a gift.  I managed to capture a few shots before I was asked not to.
Little Buryat Girl with a toy car.
Our final stop in Russia is in the town of Naushkki.  We were fortunate to be able to leave the train for 90 minutes, but afterward we had to re-board the train and spend an additional 90 minutes on the train to complete immigration and customs.  Then we crossed to boarder into Mongolia and went through immigration and customs again in Sukhbaatar, there we were not allow to disembark.  This took approximately another 2 hours.  The time we were condemned to the train was like being in a sauna, but we made the transition.  Huzzah.

Today's stops include:

Ulan-Ude: 3485 miles (5609 km); 3d 12h 20min. - founded in 1666, is a capital of the Buryt Autonomous Republic, which in the 13 - 17th centuries was a part of the vast Mongolian Empire.

Ulaanbaatar:  3736 miles (6013 km) - This is the capital of Mongolia which was founded in 1639 and was often moved along the Selenga river through Orhon and Tuul until it gained its present location. The city is strategically located on the great tea route between China, Russia and Europe.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like a great trip. I cannot believe you made it to Ulaanbaatar. I have heard about this city since I met Fil. I cannot wait to see pictures. We will be able to use them this year in school since we will be studiing Eastern Hemisphere.