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kiting, diving, trippin' I ain't never been lost, just confused for a few days - Daniel Boone

Ulaan Baatar to Irkutsk

RUSSIAN FEDERATION | Monday, 26 March 2007 | Views [1237] | Comments [1]

Talk about the slow way to go, got it in one this time. The train I took delivers the mail all the way from the Mongolian capital to Ulan Ude in Russia. We pulled out of Ulaan Baatar about 7:30 PM on the Friday night. There were stops in the middle of nowhere, just a marker on the tracks saying how far to Moscow or the Russian border. All the way along the tracks are markers. In China they mark the distance to Beijing. In Mongolia they mark the distance to the Russian border and in Russia the distance to Moscow. The Chinese go one better and have a marker every 100 metres as well.

When we got to the Russian border at Sukhbaatar (400kms / 9.5hrs) they unhitched our wagon from the train because it was the only one going over the border. The customs guys did their thing an we sat waiting for a few hours until a loco was found to drag us into Russia. Enter daylight and finally we get to see the Russian border, watchtowers and double barbed wire fences and all. It all looked very much like Stalag 13 and with the Russian customs on the train checking the carriage (three times), the papers and the passengers I didn't dare take any photos when one of the girls in my compartment said to be careful when I pulled out the camera. There were only about 30 people on the train that crossed the border, one carriage, but we spent a total of nine hours all up between the two stops with all the checking, stamping, rechecking, wagon shunting, more checking and then a final check. We were allowed off the train in Russia once we got our passports back so most of us went to a farmers market down the road and stocked up on more train food. Getting sick of noodles.

The carriages have a samover (hot water urn) that is always full and always hot and looked after by the provodnitsa (carriage attendant). The easiest meal to prepare and eat is the instant noodles and that is about all you can buy at some stops, except beer. In the market I got some salami, buscuits and beer. Party in our carriage. The two girls in the carriage with me were Buryat(Mongolian ethnic gruop living in Siberia) and came from Ulan Ude. Between us we had a bit of a feast and they're uncle/brother/godfather from the compartment next door made sure we didn't run out of beer or laughs. Worst card cheat I've ever seen.

When they all left just on dark of the Saturday afternoon I had the show to myself until next morning when we pulled in at Irkutsk. I missed a good view of Lake Baikal as the train went around the southern edge of the lake because of the dark but I didn't miss the echo of the train going through the tunnels in the hills. All made sleeping a little hard. When I finally got into Irkutsk it was around 7 AM on Sunday morning. A day and a half this time compared to 30 hours last time. It's a four day trip to Moscow from here and a lot of the travellers here are saying there isn't much reason to stop off along the way either to break up the trip.

Yesterday it snowed most of the day, I think I heard 10cm worth. Today is treacherous because most of the snow melted yesterday afternoon and again this morning when the temperature go to 2 deg and the sun came out and now the paths and sidewalks are covered in ice. As soon as it stopped snowing, and in some main areas even while it was snowing, council crews were out shovelling snow into piles and trucks just like our garbos were collecting the snow. Now the rooves are all dripping water and it's freezing on the ground.

Had enough of the city already now, going throught the visa registration thing today and probably find my way down to Listvyanka on Lake Baikal tomorrow. 

Tags: planes trains & automobiles




What do you plan to do at Lake Baikal? I know - Wait and see. How are you managing sign language? Loving this trip!

  Mum Mar 27, 2007 12:31 AM

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