Mongolia-China by the TransSiberian

Trip Start Jul 31, 2005
Trip End Feb 18, 2007

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Flag of Mongolia  ,
Sunday, September 11, 2005

Mongolia, land of blue skies...The scenery has certainly changed dramatically since Russia.
It is now a fairly green, plain but stunning landscape.

The Mongolian people have to contend with one of the most extreme climates on earth. Summer temperatures can reach a sizzling 40C and Winter has been known to dip down as low as -40C... We fortunately only have to contend with 25C in the day and 5C at night, which is just as well as we were staying in a Ger Camp out in the middle of nowhere.

Ger Camps are the traditional way in which Mongolians live and outside of the capital they are still abundant. They are amazing and surprisingly comfortable given that they are designed to be completely dismantled and moved.
The view from the front of ours was just incredible as we wake up to find nothing but a huge expanse of countryside in front of us.
At night we watch a throat singing concert at the camp. Throat singing has to be seen to be believed. I have never heard anything quite like it. They say that the Mongolian tribesman invented throat singing because they wanted to imitate the noises of animals and I must say they make a pretty good job of it.

Our visit to the Ger Camp is cut short so we can visit Patricia's Mongolian friend Uka, one of the first people she met when she moved to London.
We met up with Uka in Ulaan Baatar and both her and her family were fantastically hospitable. At night, they took us out to a Mongolian BBQ where it was just amazing to see the skills of the chefs on the huge grill.
We stayed at Uka's parents house and they were really nice to us. We couldn't speak a word of Mongolian and them a word of English but we got by with hand signals. Uka's dad used to be in the Mongolian Olympic team and was an Ice Skating champion. Their home is dotted with medals so we felt quite privileged to stay in the home of somebody famous.
It was really nice to catch up with Uka and meet her family just a shame we couldn't spend longer there.

We boarded our final leg of the journey for Beijing, and this time we get befriended by an extremely drunk and jovial bunch of Mongolians who insisted we shared their delights of fermented mares milk, horse meat and raw chicken skins. Needless to say that the sneaky slip the food into the pocket trick came in handy a few times! As the train headed towards the south of Mongolia the countryside became drier and more barren until we arrived in the Gobi Desert. It was surreal scenery and you could see for miles around.

When we reached the Chinese border, they lifted the entire train up on cranes so they could change the wheels. The Chinese and Mongolian rail gauges are different, you stay on board for the entire process so it's an extremely turbulent couple of hours.

As the train travels towards Beijing, we were afforded splendid views of the Great Wall.

The train finally arrived into Beijing at 1pm on the 11th of September. Almost 2 weeks to the day we left Moscow, with 7621 Kms of railway behind us, we made it to our Hotel for a well earned rest.

Trip facts

Number of days travelling: 46
Number of countries visited: 14

Hottest Daytime Temperature: 35 degrees Barcelona
Coldest Daytime Temperature: 15 degrees Yekaterinburg
Hottest Nightime Temperature: 25 degrees Barcelona
Coldest Nightime Temperature: 5 degrees Mongolian Ger Camp

Total Distance travelled so far: 14,897 km
by train: 13,227 km
by coach: 1,550 km
by boat: 120 km
by plane: 0 km
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