From the Trans-Mongolian Diary 4 – Leaving Mongolia

Yes back to the old 2017 diary for you. And today I am leaving Mongolia for Russia continuing my Trans-Mongolian adventure, direct from my diary as I wrote it four years ago…

8/5/21

Wasn’t feeling well so I skipped breakfast and stayed in bed SMS from Olyn to organise meeting up and I was feeling OK by this stage and I kindly was told I could have the room until 3:00 PM. I was out by 1:30 PM to meet Olyn in but not properly packed as I still haven’t got my washing back. I walked 10 minutes to the and Aria cafe – very cosmopolitan! Tres chic! Good for foreigners I guess.

Olyn was waiting there upstairs and her sister was there too. Birdie, her sister was very quiet like I remember Olyn to be but then Olyn was very chirpy and talkative. Alan is in the U S now they are officially living in Canada but all Olyn is here for the summer to do an internship.

So I have just had a Sprite and Olyn kindly paid so I had something I wasn’t feeling too bad I guess so I decided to walk to the Choijin Laman Monastery/museum. It was a bit of a walk but I was OK taking it very slowly, one foot after another. Passed Genghis Khan Aquare I made it to the right spot I knew it was probably closed today but I was hoping for a couple of decent pics from outside too and to visit the museum for the persecuted people.

That was also closed in this awesome old wooden building still worth a photo. he monastery looked interesting but had a high, high wall around it. The roofs of the temples could be seen and there was a dull garden with a interesting feature wall but that was about it.

So I went back to the hostel. I was thinking to use the bus but it really wasn’t that far and I needed to get supplies at the state department store. What’s great about the currency here is that they are no coins nothing to really weigh the diary down!

I got some Imodium type stuff there just in case touchwood an coke bread jam and biscuits came back to the hostel and have been doing a bit of budget stuff. Diary, about to blog, checked a few emails as I won’t have net for a while.

Mongolia is been pretty darn good. Stomach holding OK at this point. There’s a bit of activity this arvo here at Zaya’s. It’s usually pretty gosh darn quiet. Working on the web page.

The next part I wrote whilst on the Train to Irkutsk, Russia.

OK, time to get serious here. It’s the next day – still, I think in Mongolia so far the stomach is good touchwood naturally so I managed to print out directions and a map for Irkutsk, so hopefully I can get to the hostel without issues. Driver already shortly after 7:00 PM, not too much trouble through all the traffic.

Really, they do have major traffic issues. Many times the traffic is simply not moving and there is this scramble/fight for parking on footpaths or anywhere there is a spare square centimetre.

Arrived at the train station. I managed to change a little bit of money – Togrog to Ruble. I now have 750 Rubles which you know is something. Big Dutch tour group on the train – 12 people. Nice guys, chatted a bit. All the foreigners seem to be in Wagon One and this time I have a bottom bunk, hurray!

Bus card for Ulaan Baatar.

Sharing with two Aussies – Nicole and Stewart. Four beds, one free. More modern than the Mongolian train. I’m under budget for the first time and this may be very briefly. Train pulled out at 8:36 PM. We all decided to just go to bed really, so we made the beds within a couple of hours were all attempting sleep…

9/5/21

The night went OK in the end. I mean, you know, I snored as it has been pointed out to me by Stewart and apparently I need to check for sleep apnoea, but I must have got a few good hours after an hour or so of trying – laughing from the Slovaks next door and the chatter of the Dutch.

I woke at around 430 AM to use the toilet, a glimmer of sun was appearing. We soon stopped for a bit, moved on and after half an hour stopped again. Started – not sure exactly when we arrived at the Mongolian border post but it was, I guess, sometime after eight. I’ve been able to get a couple more snory hours of sleep at a guess 7 to 8 hours in total.

They took passports, then brought them back after a while – no real customs check. Last night and today been making jokes at the expense of carriage landlady Anya, who’s really been as helpful as possible.

Now we are in Russia. It’s 2:50 PM and we are waiting to go. We’ve been here at Naushki since probably 10:30 AM or maybe even earlier. We moved from the border to this town. Russian formalities were very stern involving officials checking out passports and visas. Yhey were very thorough, pulling out a magnifying devices to check certain spots on the visa. Perhaps there’s a market in fakes?

Then it was the turn off the bag check. Had to pull out pull up the seat and they looked albeit briefly into my bags. Certainly more diligent than the Mongols. They also had machines to scan passports and stamps, so no need to take the passports off the train.

I should say on the previous stop we lost all the carriages and the engine – yes, we were a lone carriage standing there with no way of moving! Then we got an engine and moved onto Russia and after the already mentioned border check into Russia well we were in the same carriage we’d been in earlier. One carriage, pulled by an engine, and now just the carriage.

Anya told us that we had to get off until 2:00 PM. The same carriage is part of a different train. The carriage number would change from 1 to 9 so, so we had (it was 11:30 ish) the best part of three hours to kill in sunny Naushki, which wasn’t the world’s greatest town it must be said. It was full of wooden houses, many barely standing, some destroyed although the station buildings looked brand new.

It was Victory Day here and the customer customs officials gave us each a little ribbon which I stuck on my chest with sticky tape. We walked into town but not a restaurant to be found. A couple of mini marts, kids about some in uniform with the those wide brim hats. A couple were nice enough to let me take a photo.

It’s a military town. Back to the station I saw a sign to Cafe Dariya 5th 500 metres so we walked there down the road next to the tracks. It sat next to a combination of swamp and tip, fences around the area falling over and the nice looking café – closed!

So back to the station watching carriages being shunted around with dogs yelping out. Scruffy, scruffy mutts if ever I saw any! So it’s a different train I guess now with same carriage. Oh, Stalinesque music playing, I think from World War Two in honour of VE Day.

3:20 PM ans we are moving through the Siberian countryside. Yes, Siberia baby! It’s pretty green, mountains, plains. I think we left at 2:50 PM, maybe half an hour late but who can say. Off to Irkutsk!

And next week we continue the adventure as I go to the Siberian city of Irkutsk!

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