21.02.2019 - 21.02.2019 -10 °C
Train Day 2 21st Feb
Dzamum Ude (Mongolia) to Neushki Russia
We spent about 5 hours last night exiting China and entering Mongolia. The process went very smoothly. The Chinese immigration officer came into our apartment with a cameraman in tow and, after taking off her coat and hat, sat down and processed our exit from China with the cameraman recording it all. Must be for tourist publicity because for once an immigration official smiled.
The next bit of excitement was having the wheels changed for the Mongolian and Russian railway system. We were shunted into the workshop shed, the bogies disconnected, and the carriage body jacked up (with all passengers on board) to remove the Chinese bogies and replace them with the Mongolian bogies.
Entry into Mongolia was much simpler, with just an entry form to complete and stamp in the passport. So, we eventually got to bed at 3am having had a night on the borders. We were quite relieved that we didn’t have to off-load all our luggage and go through immigration and customs procedures in the station building. The only check was a cursory look in the shower room and under the beds. One thing to note is that the toilets are locked at the borders so make sure you go before the 4 hour lock down!
Morning arrived all to soon and we were up at 9am we and the last into the Mongolian dining car for breakfast. Beautiful wood-carved carriage. (this picture must have been lunch or dinner as Steve does not usually have a beer for breakfast!)
It was really very cold in the night, so we were glad to see a fresh delivery of coal for the heaters as we arrived at Ulan Bator
Today has seen some stunning scenery on the Mongolian Steppe, frozen rivers , herds of sheep, cows and horses, yurts; some on the Steppe others in the yards of the town houses. Glimpses of life through the window have shown us herders on motorbike, horse and pick up. Uniformed staff saluting the train as it arrives in a station or passes “their section “ of the track, children playing and waving at the train as it passes their small community, fisherman squatting around a hole in the ice of the frozen river, station food vendors plying pot noodles and Coca Cola. Very little industry, a woodyard and perhaps a quarry. Ulan Bator the capitol of Mongolia was the exception, looking from the train I was glad I was not staying. A skyscraper city enshrouded in smog! There were also yurts and small dwellings as many people move from the Steppe to the city in winter. I am sure it had more to offer but I was happy to trundle on through the stunning scenery of the Kharaa river as we head for the Russian border. It looks like we have another night of border crossings complete with the obligatory form filling, passport stamping, luggage checking. No time for boredom on this train!