China, Mongolia, Trans Mongolian Railway

The Last Stretch from Ulan Bataar to Beijing

Our fantastic group on the Vodkatrain tour Ruski Huski

Getting up at 5 AM, just two hours after we came home from the clubs was tough. The minibus that was going to take us to the train station was waiting at the agreed time and the people already awake had to run around knocking on the other peoples doors to get them up in time for our train departure. Once on the train, everyone were knocked out for most of the first day, half the time it would take us to reach Beijing from the Mongolian capital. 

Once again the trains and the landscape outside had changed. The Chinese trains had blue carpets throughout the whole train, switches for fans in the compartment instead of switches for music and the landscape at first was the boring Gobi desert and then it changed into the most impressing landscape we had seen on the trip with beutiful mountain valleys and big Chinese cities. The dining cart and its menues was different, people smoked in compartments and hallways and the toilets were much less looked after (no toilet paper). Except for that it was the old familiar trans Mongolian train that we were already used to.

The border crossing between Mongolia and China took much shorter time than the one between Russia and Mongolia, with a total of five hours for the crossing: about an hour and a half on the Mongolian side and about three hours and a half on the Chinese side. The Mongolian- Chinese border was also the place where the train bogies were changed, as the tracks in China are different than the ones in Russia and Mongolia. Being lifted up to watch it all happen underneath us was an interesting experience, with the only downside being that we had five hours straight with no chance of getting to a bathroom.

Looking out the windows from our compartment it looks like China is going to be very different to Mongolia, just like Mongolia was very different to Russia. It will be nice getting off to experience it all from the ground, but I must say that it is also sad leaving the Trans Mongolian trains for good.