The ultimate railway journeys for lovers of epic train journeys are Trans Mongolian and Trans Siberian train trips. It is a trip like no other.
TRAIN BETWEEN CIVILIZATIONS
Measuring 2,080 kilometers, and situated between the borders of Russia’s far east and China’s North, the Trans-Mongolian railway is journey steeped in the history of great powers.
Its construction and operation being marked by the interplay between an industrializing, expansionist Soviet Union, and the newly emerging People’s Republic of China.
Mongolia is caught between the Sino-Soviet bloc’s core parties, the development of the Trans-Mongolian Railway served as a litmus test of the relations between the two great powers along their borderlands.
OUR JOURNEY SO FAR
We so far had done 14 500km from Brisbane, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand via Hong Kong HKSAR to Beijing, China.
We spent time the number of days in the following locations:
HK 4 days,
HK to Beijing 1 day,
Beijing 6 days
Total of 11 days, so far.
Beijing is a great city to visit, we loved the Forbidden Place, Imperial Gardens and Great Wall of China.
After a week in Beijing, we boarded the Trans Mongolian train of 30 hours from Beijing, China to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
In winter the train 033, only goes weekly on Wednesday. In summer twice a week.
This train goes from a different train station from where one arrives in Beijing.
The train leaves from Beijing South for 7.27am departure. Don’t come to early, because the station does not open until 6.30am. It is hard to find the platform in the station. NO ONE speaks English in Beijing. We still had to get used to this idea, after 22 months of overlanding in Australia where everyone understands you..but in China NO ONE speaks English. All the signs are in Chinese, so come prepared.
The tickets will get delivered to your hotel a number of days before departure. Tickets only get confirmed on the day of departure.
We had difficulty with our tickets as they were delivered to the wrong hotel in Beijing. We changed hotels before leaving NZ. After a phone call to Moscow 48 hours before departure, the Real Russia staff ensure we had our tickets on time.
Ticket price was EUR 620 for second class, again we were the only foreigners in second class as it was end of October by now. The ticket price includes your food on board, but be prepared for the worst meal in your life. I did not eat my food on board. We had managed to find a European supermarket in Beijing near our Novotel Hotel in Central Beijing.
The train arrives at the border Mongolian border at 10.48pm, but the undercarriage needs to be changed to suit the Mongolian and Russian rails. It takes 2.5 hours for this to happen. In the meantime, your passports are taken from you to be processed.
Finally at 1am the train leaves for Mongolia, after 1.5 hours you arrive at the Mongolian side…. again your passports are taken off you, until at 3am.
At 3am one has arrived in most of the most scenic countries we have ever been to called Mongolia.
Then it is time to sleep after one of the longest border crossing in my life, and we have done a few after 68 countries.
The border crossing themselves are not bad, we just did not like our passports being gone for hours on end.
Finally at 3am, one is officially in Mongolia to arrive in Ulaanbaatar at 2.35pm. Overall, a great train trip.
Next week the history of the Trans Mongolian railway. It was only opened up to visitors in early 1990s.
Made with Love and Passion for the Road,
Traveller’s NEST Overland team,
Ro and Mark