Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Trans-Mongolian - Part 1

The Trans-Mongolian train ride from Moscow to Beijing is 6 is days long. I am getting of in Ulan Bator in Mongolia for a week; so I get away with "only" 5 days. This is the longest continuous train journey I have ever been on. The questions is of course what do you do aboard a train for 5 days? Well you eat, talk to people, eat some more, work out, and drink lots and lots. I am riding in a 2nd class 4 berth cabin so at any time someone can get on and continue the journey with us. The number 4 train that I am riding is also a local train, meaning it stops over on all the stations along the way. As of now I am sharing my cabin with a french student, Gautier, who studies Chinese and lives in china. I have been using the opportunity for him to teach me a few Chinese frases.

My first night on the train was great, I got to know quite a few different people. Evandro a brazillian who works in eco tourism, Max a Belgian guy, a British literature student named Rory who is going to Mongolia to work at the Ulan Batar Post, Steff and Michael a couple from England, Tina from Sweden who was traveling alone, and of course Gautier whom I shared a cabin with.

The strange thing about being on a train for 5 days is that time ceases to have any meaning, Not knowing what timezone you are in, what time it is and you even start to loose track of what day it is. You sleep when you want, eat when you want all while speeding through Siberia. I imagine that this is a bit what jail must feel like, sans the criminals and with booze instead. You are for the most part confined to your little cabin but a couple of times a day you are let out for a short walk.

I have many good memories from traveling through Siberia, one of the more memorable ones is the bush fires burning at night. It was completely dark and the only thing you could see were the stars in the sky and the long lines of flames snaking their way through the distant landscape.

Truth to be told I had a great time aboard the first part of the trans-mongolian railway but that is mostly thanks to the people I got to know. I am looking forward to spending some time in Mongolia.

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