has travelled Asia!!

Trans Mongolian Railway (p. 5/5)

Buying a ticket from Ulaanbaatar to Beijing isn’t that easy at it was in Russia. First of all its not possible to buy international tickets via internet. So I had to go to the railway station and luckily a Mongolian friend, B. accompanied me. Otherwise I would have never made it, actually it was still complicated enough. It took us quite some time only to find out  we can not buy the tickets at the cashiers, but have to go to another building ‘across the street’ – actually its one kilometer further down the road! We had already been sent to two cashiers in the first building and arriving the other one they even sent us through the whole building, from ‘International Tickets’ to ‘VIP lounge’ on second floor to room 109. There we were told they don’t know whether and how many free seats/beds they will have. They would get these information themselves only 16 hours (!!) before the departure of the train,because the train was coming from Moscow.

So I came back again, with another friend. Chica and me wanted to go the Opera that day anyway. But 16 hours before departure they still didnt knew and more and more people came to get tickets… It took us another three hours (plus two the first day) before we got the ticket. But it was very interesting to see Mongolian officials at work. I became an idea of bureaucracy in such countries, now I know why I did rather buy an invitation instead of asking my Russian friends to send me one.

At the train station I met a lot of tourists and I’m proud to be the only one who bought the ticket himself. Inter alia I met Sebastien and Mato again, which whom I also arrived in Ulaanbaatar. But my compartment I shared with Asians: a Chinese, a Mongolian and a Korean, nice! Arriving in China we had to wait six hours again… but this time at least for a good reason: They changed the wheels. We drove in a massive hall where every wagon was lifted up at least one meter after the wheels had been taken off. Then new wheels were located underneath and we went back down. And we mustn’t leave the train during the whole procedure!  And China knows how to endear itself, when we entered we became coupons for a free breakfast and lunch. The restaurants are really nod good and (normally) expensive… Better to have your own food, especially as boiling water is provided in every wagon.

I love travelling by train and therefore I also love Trans Siberian/Mongolian Railway! But I must say international trains are unreasonable expensive!! I recommend travelling only Trans Siberian Train. If you wanna go to Beijing my advice is to go by train till Ulan Ude. From there you can take a direct bus to Ulaanbaatar for only ~1000 Rubles, ~25 Euro. From Ulaanbaatar to Beijing you can either take the Trans Mongolian (131,000 Togrog, ~75 Euro) or a national train to Zamyn-Uud (Mongolia), then a shuttle bus to Erenhot (China) and another direct bus to Beijing (all in all ~70,000 Togrog, ~40 Euro).

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