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Old Posted Oct 31, 2010, 11:37 PM
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Nantais Nantais is offline
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From Moscow to Beijing by train. Part Six : Experiencing the Gobi desert

Here is the sixth thread about my train journey, in last july, from Moscow to Beijing.

The links towards the five first threads :
Moscow
Across Siberia
The Great Baïkal
Going to Mongolia !
Ulan Bator and the surroundings

1- Leaving Ulaanbaatar, early in the morning.


2- The outskirts of the city, seen from the train :


3-


4- A city made of yurts :


5- Most of the houses have one or several yurts in their backyards. Yurts are a common sight in all the neighborhoods of Ulan Bator, we even saw some yurts on the sidewalks not far from the downtown.


6-


7-


8-


9- Hundreds of them :


10-


11-


12-


13- Crossing a river :


14-


15- Back in the steppe again...


16- Last sight on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar :


17- The vastness of Mongolia :


18- Every hundred of miles we come across a little train station with two or three houses standing by :


19- Inside the restaurant car (the best-looking and the best-tasting of the all the restaurant cars that we tested during the trip) :


20- Eastern svastikas again


21- Sometimes we could see little towns only composed of three or four commieblocks, like lost in the middle of pure immensity. Actually I even saw one commieblock standing alone in the steppe... a very eerie sight, unfortunately I didn't take a pic of it.


22- Approaching the Gobi... the heat was unbearable, there was no AC in our second class cars (unlike in the first class). It was 36°C inside the train, when we tried to pass our heads through the windows of the rolling train to get some fresh wind, instead our faces were burned by the hotter outside air.


23- We stopped for some minutes in this train station. On the quay, some local kids had the good idea to sell bottles of ices to thirsty tourists like me.


24-


25-


26- Regular mongolian city with the standard five floors commieblock :


27- Again in the train, ruins along the tracks :


28-


29- Hello man !


30-


31- The Gobi, well there is nothing to see :


32- Oh, a stone (spot it !) :


33- Some hours later... always nothing :


34-


35- Some hours later again... still nothing !


36- Again... some hours later... "hey guys, there is a building in sight !"


37- A fucking long train !


38- Approaching the border


39- Truck drivers meeting :


40-


Then started the worst moment of our train journey : the crossing of the Mongolia-China border. Hours and hours waiting in a very hot train, and contrary to the Russia-Mongolia border we couldn't go out, we had to stay in our car. Moreover we couldn't use the toilets because they are closed when the train is stopped.

Then came the custom officers and the border police of Mongolia and China. They came into our car to check our identity and luggage. It was very long, especially for me... for some reason the chinese police officer was very suspicious towards me, he thought that I didn't look like my passport id pic. He asked me for another ID document (fortunately I had my ID card and my driver licence on me), but he also called his superior. His superior looked at me, at my passport and called another guy... then one of them took a phone and while he was checking something on my passport, the others kept on looking at me very suspiciously.

Then they started to check my luggage and found... my deodorant spray. From that point, from suspicious, they became very nervous. The police officer was focusing on the flammable sign on the spray... I don't know, maybe they thought it was some kind of a bomb.
I did my best to explain them that it was just a deodorant, but they couldn't speak english and didn't know the word "deodorant", so I was forced to mime using the deodorant spray over my body. I must say that all the other passengers (most of them tourists like me) were laughing their ass off. Eventually the chinese police officers understood and gave me back my deodorant and my passport.


41- At the border, they have to change the bogies of the train because they don't use the same tracks in China than in Russia and Mongolia. The process lasted some hours and we still have to stay in the train. Here is a pic of the huge warehouse where they change the bogies :


42- First chinese train station, we could at last go out of the train for some minutes in the middle of the night. Everybody was exhausted. All I can remember was the mini-riot when passengers invaded the supermarket of the train station to buy some food and, above all, some drinks and to spend their last tugrik (the mongolian money). Yes, definitely the worst moment of the trip. Welcome to China.



Some other things I saw but of which I didn't take pics :
- numerous camels in the desert.
- animal corpses along the tracks.
- a mongolian soldier pooping along the tracks, just before the border, while we were leaving Mongolia. A funny answer to these mongolian soldiers saluting our train while we entered their country !


Don't miss the next (and last) thread !

Last edited by Nantais; Nov 6, 2010 at 5:15 PM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Nov 1, 2010, 1:19 AM
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Absolutely fantastic tour!

Kudos for taking us where few of us have ever been!
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  #3  
Old Posted Nov 1, 2010, 2:12 AM
AusHou AusHou is offline
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This has really been educational. I had no idea what to expect.
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Old Posted Nov 1, 2010, 3:09 AM
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What a surreal place. Can you imagine randomly being dropped off in one of those towns?!
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  #5  
Old Posted Nov 1, 2010, 3:53 AM
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Great pictures once again!
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  #6  
Old Posted Nov 1, 2010, 6:48 AM
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Very interesting pictures! Thank you!
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  #7  
Old Posted Nov 1, 2010, 12:05 PM
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I probably would have cried over the deodorant incident.

Thanks a lot for posting this. As someone else said above, thanks for giving us a glimpse of what many of us have never (and most likely won't ever) see/experience first-hand.
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Old Posted Nov 1, 2010, 1:14 PM
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im following this tour, I really wanna do it some day. I know now to bring a book I'll only ever read whenever the train stops for hours/ border control.

And how cool would it be to have a yurt out the back aswell as your house?

...coming home at night:
man, Ill wake the parents - lets hit the yurt.
Er, what's a yurt?
Ah, like an igloo, made of felt. That sits in the garden.
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Old Posted Nov 1, 2010, 11:35 PM
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Thanks for the great pics.
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Old Posted Nov 2, 2010, 8:38 PM
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Incredible! I can't express how much I've enjoyed this series.
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  #11  
Old Posted Nov 2, 2010, 11:23 PM
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Excellent thread!

Makes me appreciate the west and Canada even more (as if it needed it)!
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  #12  
Old Posted Nov 3, 2010, 4:28 AM
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Amazing!!!
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  #13  
Old Posted Nov 3, 2010, 5:33 AM
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Thanks for taking the time to post all these pictures! It sure is amazing. A lot of place you never, ever see.
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  #14  
Old Posted Nov 20, 2010, 2:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muppet View Post
im following this tour, I really wanna do it some day. I know now to bring a book I'll only ever read whenever the train stops for hours/ border control.

And how cool would it be to have a yurt out the back aswell as your house?

...coming home at night:
man, Ill wake the parents - lets hit the yurt.
Er, what's a yurt?
Ah, like an igloo, made of felt. That sits in the garden.


thanks for the tour.

this shot reminds me of Iraq:



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