Thursday, June 26, 2014

Riding the Trans-Siberian to Beijing--6/12

I walked to the train station from the Hostel and ended up having a two egg breakfast and coffee, but no silverware. I just made an egg sandwich with the two eggs I bought and then headed to the train. It arrived about 6:30 with about 12 carriages and a dining car. None of the cars were platzcart since this was an international train. All of the carriages were new Mongolian ones that were very clean and neat with great A/C. Most of the passengers were Europeans and many were with tour groups. I ended up with carriage 1 that was right behind the Diesel engine, I then learned that I was in compartment 1 in bunk 1 on the bottom. Great place. As I was getting settled my bunk mate in bunk 2 above me turned out to be Flo from Germany and joined by Klara, the Swiss-Czech that I toured around Irkutsk with. I first met Flo in Moscow. I also saw a number of Germans as well as some Hollanders I had shared a ride with on the train to Ulaanbaatar who were boarding this train. It is almost like a moving community.

The other two cabin mates were Rosie and Jacob from UK who were on a year's travel.
I headed to the dining carriage for lunch with the plan to use the remaining Mongolian Tugrik money. When I got to the dining car, I saw that all of the dining tables were occupied and the waiter asked a group of three if I could join them. They agreed. It turns out that they were a Finnish family where the son was accompanying his parents on the Trans-Siberian train from Moscow to Beijing. The son was a middle school teacher who was planning a future trip around the US with his two daughters and wife.

 It was a set meal that cost about $25 so I used up my 42,000 Mongolian Tugrik. If I eat there again, it will cost me $25 USD since they do not accept Visa on this Mongolian dining car. At least I will not have Mongolian money that other countries do not accept.

The scenery changed from green, to grey to brown as we continued south across the Gobi Desert.

Occasionally we would see some mining operations.

Klara and Flo have joined our carriage room while we pass through the Gobi.

Rosie and Jacob are spending their time editing their thousands of photos. It turns out that they had seen a mini Nadam festival. They saw a horse race of children that was greeted by roars from all the friends and family members. They also watched the Mongolian wrestlers in their speedos who spent their time grappling with each other until one of them is tossed to the ground. The big Nadam festival occurs near Ulaanbaatar in early July.

They gave me some of their lunch fixings since the would not be any dining car until after we crossed the boarder to China. It was a delicious open face sandwich of cheese, pate, cukes, and tomatos. Delicious!

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