Goodbye China, Hello Mongolia
Trip Start Nov 01, 2011
129Trip End Nov 01, 2012
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We had six nights in Beijing as we organized our Mongolian visas and our train to Ulan Bataar. After the travel admin, we took in some of the cities famous sites. Including Tianamen Square and the Forbidden City.
Whilst visiting Tianamen Square we agreed to join some friendly local students for a cup of tea, as they were unusually desperate to practice their English. (We learned after leaving Beijing that travelers refer to this as The "Beijing Tea House Scam")
We were then directed in to an unmarked tea house and led in to a private back room where an impressive array of teas was awaiting us
We also realized that the students were all sitting round the door blocking us in the room. We decided the best thing to do was panic, and we put down the money for Charlie's juice and made a run for the door. Thankfully they stepped aside, but it could have got out of hand very quickly if we had both started drinking the tea from the off.
The other must in Beijing is of course the Forbidden City, and we had a great day exploring the huge complex. But, as with all of our time in China the curse of the school holidays was there to haunt us, and the area was insanely busy with Chinese tourists falling over each other take a photo of almost anything
Our evenings were spent hanging out with Ally and Adrian (friends from London) who very kindly invited us to stay at their apartment for the second half of our Beijing stay.
Then we took the 30 hour Trans Mongolian train to Ulan Bataar. We booked a very comfortable cabin which made the journey very easy. The only problem with the trip is the border crossing as everybody has to exit the train to leave Mongolia and then again to enter China. Both crossings take a lot of time and both happen in the middle of the night. It then gets a little silly when you learn that the two countries couldn’t agree on the width of the tracks, so build their own widths up to the border, forcing the train to change its wheels to continue.
We found the most interesting contrast of the entire journey was the telegraph poles. The Chinese seem to build an obscene number of ugly pile ons stretching off in every direction, then, as soon as you cross the border, the Mongolian solution of a wooden pole on a concrete stilt seems to be from another world.