Sunday 24 April 2011

Trans-Mongolian Express

Well, here we are again, literally on a slow train to China. Express is obviously a misnomer because this train ain’t going no-where fast! We set off at 7.20 am and 12 hours later arrived at the Mongolian/Chinese border where our wheels were changed! The two customs processes and the complicated procedure to uncouple our carriages, shunt them into a workshop, lift them up on hydraulic lifts, uncouple the wheels and replace took 5 hours. More to the point, 5 hours with no toilet facilities. Apart, that is, on the 15 minute journey in no mans’ land between Mongolia and China when our kindly Chinese attendant opened the loos and allowed us 1 minute each to go about our business. It was hectic but very helpful. He was contravening the regulation which states that the loos should be locked for 20 minutes before until 20 minutes after each station because it flushes straight onto the track.

As a general observation we have so far found that Russia was the most challenging, particularly the people who were unfriendly, unhelpful and neurotic. The Siberians however were far more friendly and the weather, strangely enough, was better too. They claim to have blue skies most of the year and very little precipitation. They don’t like the Russians either. The Mongolians are delightful smiley people who like everyone. 75% of Mongolians are Buddhists and I think the gentleness of their religion shines through into their daily lives. Our only contact with the Chinese so far has been on this train and at the border control and the first impression is that they are also friendly. We shall see.


Sueann said...

How interesting...about the impression you got of the Russians. Ha!! They are going through a tough time right now maybe that is why?
Thanks again for sharing

Unknown said...

I'm still amazed at this journey you've undertaken!

Maggie May said...

I'm finding it fascinating!
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Ashley said...

Do they change the wheels to accommodate track differences then? Sounds like you are still having fun, I want to see China even more now. xx