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Trans-Siberian Train Journey

From Beijing to St Petersburg by Train
September 19 to October 11, 2001

Flag of Mongolia

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Route of the Trans-Mongolian Train Click here to see our China photos. Click here to see our Irkutsk photos. Click here to see our Mongolia photos.

Trans-Mongolian Discovery -- A train trip through Mongolia

Tuesday, September 25, 2001 – Aboard the Trans Mongolian Railway
On an early morning departure we caught a last glimpse of the Great Wall as it winds over the mountains before the train descended into the arid lands of Outer Mongolia. We settled into life on board, enjoying the company of our fellow passengers (our leader Sylvana, and our 2 cabin mates, Sue from Australia, and Trisna from Hong Kong). We soon made a picnic in our cabin. In the evening we arrived at the Chinese border town of Erlan for immigration and customs formalities. Here the train’s bogies were changed from the narrow Chinese gauge to the wider gauge used in Mongolia and Russia. The train then moved to the Mongolian border town of Dzamyn Ude. Once formalities had been completed in the early hours of the morning, the train continued onto Ulan Bator.

Wednesday, September 26, 2001 – Arrive Ulan Bator
Our train took us through a dramatic change in scenery, from the lush mountains of China to the baron landscape of the Gobi, where we were caught in the middle of a dust storm – dust EVERYWHERE! in our mouths, eyes, contact lenses, food, clothing, luggage. We continued on into the vast grassy plains, a huge expanse which is home to almost half the Mongolian population. Arriving at Ulan Bator at lunchtime, we soon transferred to the Edelweiss Hotel. In the afternoon we explored this unique city where the young and the old, the modern and traditional, go hand in hand. We visited the Zaisan Memorial built by the Russians to commemorate ‘unknown soldiers and heroes’. From there we had a spectacular panorama of the city.

Thursday, September 27, 2001 – Terelj
We travelled by bus into the spectacular countryside of vast green grasslands and rocky outcrops. At 1600m, the area was cool and the alpine scenery was magnificent and we had an opportunity to go walking and horse riding in the Mongolian hills, with the trees at the height of their colourful fall splendour. We had a traditional Mongolian supper together with other 'campers' and then slept in a traditional Mongolian ger (tent).

Friday, September 28, 2001 – Ulan Bator
We returned to Ulan Bator and went back to shower at our hotel. Then we had time to send postcards home, check e-mail, and shop. Before we boarded our evening train bound for Siberia, our group took in a concert of traditional Mongolian music and dancing at the National History museum. At the end of the evening we boarded the train, bound for Siberia.

Saturday, September 29, 2001 – Aboard Trans-Mongolian Railway to Irkutsk
Until the middle of this century, the rough track over the steppe-lands of northern Mongolia and the Gobi Desert in the south was the only route across this desolate country. It was an ancient route followed for centuries by tea-caravans between Peking and Moscow. Our train arrived at Sukhbaatar, the Mongolian border town, and after completing formalities, we continued across no-man’s land to a military outpost where Russian officials boarded the train and checked our documents. After further formalities were completed, the carriages were shunted and joined to the Russian locomotive, journeying on to Irkutsk.

Click HERE to hear a sample of some Mongolian "Throat-singing"
Mongolian "Khoomii" (377KB)
* Sings to the accompaniment of a "Yoochin", a Mongolian dulcimer.

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Last modified: December 27, 2002
Email: Rudy Nikkel.