I arrived in Ulaanbaatar in the morning which was disappointing as I would liked to have seen the Mongolian countryside. This worked both ways though because when you enter UB 20k out it’s meant to be a dump. The town itself isn’t great… very polluted, busy and not too much to see (also lots of stories of crime and theft). Luckily we weren’t victims to any theft but had heard of stories of razor slitting back pockets and bags to get the contents, cameras being stolen, then confronting the thieves and told to come back in a hour, after which they were told they can’t have it back as it’s been sold. The thieves don’t care about the item so if they can’t sell it they will sell it back to you. But don’t let this put you off coming to Mongolia, being vigilant and pre-emptive you can avoid most confrontations as we have. It’s a lovely country with good people and I would like to spend more time here although maybe in summer; it’s getting cold!
I am sat here ashamedly with my new addiction, since my first try I’ve had to go back for more. I blame Roy and Graham for introducing it to me as I’m sure it will continue through my travels and eat into my budget. I am of course talking about the wonders of Nestea, the cold liquid tastes so good, Liptons doesn’t even come close.
I think my liking has been aided due to me having black tea and coffee because on the trains its not practical to carry milk. Even when I do have the luxury of milk now I stay loyal to the dark side.
I have covered the intricates of the train, now I thought it best to talk about the places that the train has taken me too.
As I have previously covered I have been to St Petersburg, Moscow and then to Nizhny Novgorod, from here I caught the train to Yekaterinburg; I only stopped over here for one night which turned out to be rather long as I couldn’t find the hostel.
It has been a little while so I thought I would update my progress on the Trans-Mongolian adventure. I have spent many hours on the train crossing the massive expanse that is Russia, in context it took me 2 weeks to cycle the length of Britain, 1600km; this distance is covered in one over-night train. As much as I miss my bike I am quite happy to pass this one on the train. The scenery is consistently flat with trees breaking up the horizon and occasional wooden housed towns then the odd big city to pass through.
I underestimated the time I would need in Moscow, from what everyone says its a lesser city to St P, which on first glance to a tourist I would have to agree, but it depends what you want from your visit. St Petersburg is cultural city with lots to see and pretty much aimed at tourists to enjoy. Moscow is the big hustle and bustle working city, everyone moves with urgency and money is plentiful visible in shops, outfits and cars; this said it feels like a fun city (work hard play harder kind of thing). FSB black 740 BWMs fly by while the police still chug along in marked Larda’s from the 90′s.