A Travellerspoint blog

China

Train from to Ulaanbaatar


View 2005 Trans-Mongolian Rail Journey on alexchan's travel map.

large_5550_11661276328142.jpgFirst class from Beijing to Ulaan Baatar. The door on the right opens into the shower shared with the next cabin.
We boarded our Chinese train to Ulaanbaatar ... a journey of 30 hours across 1356 km. Spotted the Great Wall outside Beijing but the scenery soon turned dusty brownish-green ... the steppes in dry weather and Gobi Desert. We had a nice 2-berth cabin with a shared shower with the next cabin ... but one toilet per carriage.

Our neighbours were mainly retireees and train-spotters (some were both but we are neither). Exception was our immediate neighbour who were honeymooners, hardly leaving their cabin! The highlight for train-spotters and us as well, was the bogey change at Erlian [Erlian-travel-guide-1310116] at the Chinese-Mongol border.

The bogey change is due to the two countries using different track width. A highly mechanised process ... the carriages are uncoupled and lifted slowly off the Chinese bogeys (don't even feel the lifting motion). The Mongol ones are slid under and the carriages are lowered back down. All this happens with the passengers on board but the toilets locked to ensure we do not ... er, soil the workers and the workshop floor.

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Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Imperial Capital


View 2005 Trans-Mongolian Rail Journey on alexchan's travel map.

large_5550_11661276132430.jpgKim near the entrance to the Forbidden City.
From Osaka, we flew to Beijing [Beijing-travel-guide-208144] which we last visited in 1998. We repeated the Forbidden City to realise that on our previous guided day-tour we saw only a fraction of it. This time we covered the western side, which had many apartments ... that wore us out and we will have to visit the eastern side on our third visit next time!

New sights for us were the Drum Tower (we witnessed an ancient time-keeping ritual using large drums, revived for tourism) and the Lama Temple (Tibet minus altitude sickness).

Something more interesting was the Mousie Dung (excuse spelling) mausoleum ... we saw his body but the highlight was the loyal people buying plastic bouquets to put in front of him. The bouquets get collected at the close of the day to be re-sold the next! I wish I could find a business proposition like that!

In the last 7 years, Starbucks and McDonalds have invaded seemingly every corner. Starbucks here is more expensive than in Osaka or Auckland (so I still have never tried it). A cup of coffee there can cost more than twice a well-made copy-watch.

The weather in Beijing is bone-dry ... to the extent that one taxi driver used a half-gnawed pineapple as air-freshener by leaving it under the rear windscreen. In most places it would turn a sickly putrid alchoholy smell!

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Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

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