The train... the train...

Trip Start Jun 12, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Mongolia  ,
Friday, June 18, 2010

I was up bright and early to make sure we got our tickets...

I was supposed to meet the Chinese speaker at 6:30 but I put it off a bit as I was still annoyed that the woman at the front desk offered to get the tickets for us and she was much nicer and cheaper.

I was outside the railway station at about 6:45 and just as predicted by the bloke yesterday, there was already a long queue.

And up the front of the queue was the American girl from yesterday.  She'd taken my advice and had turned up really early unlike me.

Now with the long queue I really wanted the bloke from yesterday to turn up but either I was too late or he didn't think I'd turn up and buy the ticket from him.  After all, anyone that turned up at 6:30 could easily buy the tickets for themselves.

Now I was in a bit of a panic; there was already a long queue and I wasn't sure how many tickets were for sale.

I ran back to the hotel hoping that the woman at the front desk would help but she said we'd said no yesterday so that was it. 

Luckily a Russian speaking Mongolian woman overheard me at the front desk and she offered to come across to the railway station with me to help me get the ticket.  Sooo nice of her.
I spotted the American girl up the front of the queue.  Realising that she was buying tickets for her friends too I warned her that she'd need their passports.  So she asked me to mind her spot while she ran back to her hotel for the other passports.  Once she was back I thought I might as well stay in the spot as it probably looked like we were together.  That did the trick and I was buying the tickets in no time.  The Mongolian from yesterday wandered in at about this time and he didn't seem so bad after all.  It was certainly invaluable information that he'd given us about the need to queue up early. 

I had a bit of a chat with the American girl...  quite interesting.  She'd just met up with the other three blokes a couple of days before.  In Zamyn Uud they went for the cheapest hotel they could find so they ended up in one room with two beds. 

Some bloke obviously got lucky.  Well, I don't mean lucky lucky... I mean lucky he didn't have to share with another bloke...

In theory they got lucky that they ran into me.  I had the info about queueing early and I also tipped Joanne off about the passports...

The usual station bustle as the train from Ulaanbaatar arrived...

With tickets in hand I went back to get Nora and Sally out of bed.  Surprisingly enough the hotel has the policy that you can just leave your luggage in your room until it's time for the train at 17:35.

So off we went exploring.  In no time at all we were past the outskirts of the town and out into the fields.  It's all pretty grotty but the yurts all over the place make it pretty interesting. We also spotted a few horses and even some bloke riding around with some sort of lasso.

Not quite the same grandeur as the churches in Neil and Maria's blog...

A jeep very much like the one was took from Erlian... though probably in better nick.  Though unlike the one we took, if you look carefully you'll see that this is a crank-starting jeep...

We chatted to this woman who approached us speaking Chinese. I suppose she thought there's no point speaking Mongolian - I'd better try the only foreign language I know - Chinese.

These are just about our first yurts in Mongolia so I thought I'd better get Nora and Sally in front of them...

Nora and I then decided to head off into the desert...

The colour of the sky was amazing. It's lost in this photo... but no wonder blue sky comes up a lot in Mongolian text books and features as the name of hotels etc.

Lunch time... don't be fooled by what looks like just Coke in those glasses... the (almost empty) water bottle on the table is Nora's preferred method for carrying Bacardi siphoned from her duty free bottles...

Ukrainian style, one orders ones vodka by the ml.  This was 200 ml. I think.

Train time.  I nipped into a shop by the station to buy some beer and chips, leaving Sally and Nora to look after my suitcase.  But when I came out of the shop... they were gone!!!!!  I ran over to the train... not there; ran back - nowhere to be seen...  I wasn't happy.  Finally I heard a voice in the distance.  Nora had spotted me.  They'd decided to save time and move on but they somehow went in the wrong direction. 

I think they're trying to blame each other for wandering off...  I hope they make up by UB.

I love the atmosphere as long distance trains are boarding...

The fourth person in our cabin was a young Mongolian girl.  Her boyfriend from another coupe had to stow my suitcase as there was not way I was going to get it up there.

The view out of the train window wasn't too bad. More interesting than on the Trans-Siberian in my view.

I was also fascinating by the small stations that we stopped at with hardly a house nearby. But they had nice stations and also station masters in uniform and cap.

Somewhere in the desert.

I also managed to snap a picture of our train as it went around a bend...  round about 30 carriages I think.

Sunset wasn't too bad either...

A bit of a nap before bed-time...

We had both top bunks which caused a bit of a problem as neither Nora nor Sally could get up there without help and Nora had a bit of a panic attack once she was up there... Admittedly it is very high up and there is no railing at all to stop you falling... but when was the last time any of us have fallen out of bed.  Anyway, Nora decided she had to hang on to one of the fixtures on the wall all night so Sally said she'd swap.

I thought it was ok, expept for the fact that they'd stopped me from closing the window and in the middle of the night it became absolutely freezing. 

Looks like the only one of us that slept really well was the Mongolian girl down the bottom...

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Axe on

Great episode. Hi to the girls.

Jenny on

Great pics and tales. Robert, you sound like a bargain hunter addict - were the train tickets really expensive?

Nat on

Keep up the blog. it's all thats getting us through the winter here. !!!

budz888 on

A ticket on the overnight local train from Zamyn-Uud to Ulaanbaatar costs about 27,000 Tugrik... about AUD $25.

Jenny on

$25 doesn't sound expensive to me...

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