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Edinburgh – Shanghai

“In Trouble Again”

I was talking with an old colleague last week. Colin is the creative director at an agency that I used to do some work for. He was helping me sort out a proof copy of my latest book, and confessed to having had a quick read as he was converting the file. He told me that the first chapter, In Trouble Again, was so funny that he nearly soiled himself when he read it. I had to point out that I nearly soiled myself too, out of fear during the experience I was describing rather than amusement. Here is a […]

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Maglev

Distance covered: 12,490 km, distance to go: 0 km – the finish! Shanghai Longyang Road Station to Pudong International Airport 3 C, sunny, GMT +8. Distance: 30 km, journey time 7 minutes, max speed 431km/h (268 mph) Well here we go for the last train of this trip – but one seemingly without rails! It’s a 20 minute taxi ride from the Bund to Longyang Road, where the downtown Maglev station is to be found. A short hike up an escalator, then you buy a ticket (mine was a first class or “VIP” ticket, one way, discounted if you show […]

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Bottle opener

Shanghai, 3 C, clear with chilly wind, GMT +8 I apologise if I have misled you with the name of this post, as it refers to the nickname for the Shanghai World Financial Centre (SWFC) rather than any beer drinking paraphernalia. You can understand why when you see the design of this building (above centre) by the architect Kohn Pederson Fox. Last night I could feel my hotel (the Pudong Shangri-La) vibrate slightly in the strong gusts of wind. When I spoke to the concierge at breakfast, he said that this is normal, and that’s why there are no lights […]

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Shanghai

Distance covered so far: 12,430 km, distance to go: 30 km, 3C, GMT +8. G15 High Speed Train, Beijing South – Shanghai Hongqiao Sad to be leaving the Kerry, but up early for my journey to Shanghai. In the Shangri-La way, everything was a whir of efficiency at check out and I was soon deposited in a wifi enabled car and accompanied by Chris, the hotel concierge. I discovered on the short journey to the station that this blog is actually blocked in China, but the hotel route their internet via Hong Kong, so as a result I have had […]

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Peking duck

Distance so far: 11,112 km, distance to go: 1,318 km. -10 C, dry & sunny. I know you don’t need a “tourist diary” from me in Beijing, but I do have a couple of updates as I down tools (or should that be “trains”?) for Christmas. First of all, for the record, my Christmas dinner – a rather special whole duck carefully prepared at Da Dong, suppliers of the best Peking duck in the city. (No Christmas pudding, but you can’t have everything!). Leaving the train and getting back into civilised living is an odd experience. Once I left the […]

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Beijing

Distance so far: 11112 km, -10 C, sunny, GMT +8 Another good night’s sleep – I woke to the feeling of the brakes and fearing a “Crazy Ivan” as we pulled into Datong, our penultimate stop (bang on time). Not much to see on the platform or indeed the station, which was devoid of human life apart from of course about 20 guards from our train standing alongside their carriages. They were supervised as normal by our “C in C” and “RSM”, who clearly are now preparing for passing out parade at Sandhurst wearing their best dress uniforms. I didn’t […]

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Erlian

Distance so far: 10261 km, -18 C, darkness. Just a quick update from the other side of the border. I seemed to have passed muster again and my passport is back in my compartment – my fourth visa for this trip so far is now in place. Guard A and Guard B seem to be on best behaviour as they are back in their home country. Guard B has just given me tickets for a complimentary breakfast and lunch tomorrow, recognising the prestigious arrival of the “native” Chinese restaurant carriage. The Chinese border is quite impressive here at Erlian. They […]

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Dzamyn Ude

Distance so far: 10260 km, -18 C, clear and dark, GMT +8 Greetings from Mongolia! It’s another night on the border, this time we leave Mongolia and enter China. We have covered 1118 km in the last 24 hours. As I write this I’m sat in my compartment in the silence and semi darkness at Dzamyn Ude waiting for customs and immigration clearance. On the plus side, I’m drinking Russian champagne whilst I wait. More of this later! It’s been another great day and I’m sad to be leaving Mongolia so soon. I had planned to get off for a […]

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Naushki

Distance so far: 9142 km, – 30 C (estimate), clear skies I am currently sat at the Russian border waiting for my passport to be returned before we trundle over into Mongolia. A visa point in passing – Russian immigration don’t seem at all fussed about deregistering our visas. After going to the trouble of registering it in Moscow in the first place, I’m disappointed they don’t seemingly want (or need) to deregister it. Perhaps the exit procedure does this automatically in the system these days? It’s too complicated a question to try and ask, so I’m just going to […]

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Ulan-Ude

Distance so far: 8889 km, -25 C, sunny, GMT +8 The train has just left Ulan-Ude (we are still on time!) after a 40 minute stop, our longest so far. Overnight we passed through Irkutsk and have covered another 1200 km since this time yesterday. We seem to have a fresh engine each day – still on overhead electric at the moment, but changing to diesel tomorrow. We came in alongside the Russian Trans-Siberian “Rossiya” train which I think goes on to Vladivostok – but we soon part company and branch off this line soon to start heading South, bound […]

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