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Trans-Mongolian

A Bridge Even Further

You might well have been wondering what I have been up to since I returned from my United States coast to coast adventure late last year. The answer is simply that I have been working flat out on my new book. A Bridge Even Further is the second book in my Trans-Siberian trilogy, and I’m pleased to be able to say that it was finally published this week. Your feedback on my first book has been really helpful in deciding how to approach writing A Bridge Even Further. I wanted to keep all the detail of my experiences of the individual trains, […]

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Beijing

Distance travelled so far: 9336 km. Distance left to go to Singapore: 9152 km Final morning on the train before we arrive at Beijing. Time for a rather early lunch in the Chinese restaurant carriage, and then some packing and exchanging plans with fellow travellers. No idea why, but lunch is strictly served between 10.30 and 11.30 this morning. No menu as such, but all quite friendly and efficient. As seems to be normal in a Chinese restaurant car, a policeman is on hand to prevent possible noodle theft and black market exchanges of meal coupons! The scenery is totally […]

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Dzamynude

Distance so far: 8493 km. Weather: dry and cold, guess -10 degrees C An early dinner today as the brilliant Mongolian restaurant carriage leaves us at 19.10 local time. I will miss everything about it other than possibly its temperature. We have just arrived on the Mongolian side of the Chinese border. The soldiers are saluting the train as it arrives on the platform, heralding several hours of paperwork, searches and inspections. I have filled in the paperwork for both sides already, so hopefully I’m ahead of the game. I have to tell you that the Mongolian border officers here […]

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Mongolian menu on Train #004

You get just a day to try your hand at some good and very reasonably priced Mongolian fare. The restaurant takes Yuan, so no need to do a black market deal for local currency (of course they say no one will take anything else at the border!) The menu is in English, Chinese and Mongolian with pictures of the main dishes. Highlights for me are the beef dumpling soup, the “Traveller’s Beef” and the Russian Champanska. The best local beer is a bottle of Golden Gobi, and to give you an idea, the filling dumpling soup and a GG beer will cost […]

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Choyr

An epic day crossing the Gobi desert to the soundtrack of “Wish You Were Here” (Discovery edition). When we stopped at Choyr I dashed up front (it’s still a long way) to do my trainspotter bit. There was some funky young Mongolian guy doing the same – dressed in a blue flying suit, brown leather flying boots, a peaked Mao hat, some Oakley shades and carrying a silver topped stick (see the picture below). He smiled and then proceeded to climb up the ladder onto the engine – he was the driver! I have to say he looks very happy […]

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Ulaanbaatar

I’ve made a point of getting up early for our arrival into Mongolia’s capital city. Its 06.30 Beijing time and still quite dark. I will describe the temperature as “quite cold”, somewhere in the -30s C. The place is buzzing with locals carrying huge numbers of parcels wrapped in brown paper, mixed with western tourists with serious looking rucksacks and insulated climbing boots. Actually not much to see on the platform, but I’m guessing that any sane Mongolian would conduct their retail activities indoors. I can see coloured disco lights coming from outside the station, and also a door signed […]

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Suhe-Bator

Distance covered so far: 7393 km, estimated temperature: -24 degrees C Greetings from Mongolia! I’ve just crossed the frontier from the Russian Federation and am now sat quietly in the darkness on the Mongolian border. It’s all very Cold War again – soldiers standing to attention on the platform and immigration officers carrying briefcases ready to board and examine everyone that they find on train 004. Guard dogs roam freely on the platform. I think my paperwork is in order, but judging by the degree of close inspection my visa was given before being taken away, I’m not 100% sure. […]

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Russian menu on Train #004

Okay, so here’s how it works. The restaurant is kind of franchised to a Russian couple on this train. They cook food to order and have a Russian menu with approximate English translations. There is a plentiful supply of cold beer and warm vodka. Hardly any locals eat here, it’s just really for rich and decadent Western tourists. About 80% of what is on the menu is unavailable, but in my experience of two trips, there is a plentiful supply of fresh salmon, pork, beef, ham, eggs & cheese and potatoes. There are even a couple of vegetarian options. The coffee is […]

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Ulan Ude

Its a perfect day on the Trans-Mong 004. Listening to my Pink Floyd back catalogue (turned up slightly too loud) in my compartment whilst I update the blog. We are about 30 minutes behind schedule – I don’t know why. We left Irkutsk on time at about 04.30 (local) and have been weaving around vast frozen lakes most of the morning. By chance I was just walking back from my ablutions at about 09.30 (local) and I nearly dropped my toilet roll when I looked out the window to see Lake Baikal – absolutely massive, stunning, like a sea, and […]

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Ilanskaya

An afternoon stop in Ilanskaya for coal. My train timetable says we are 4379 km from Moscow, so if I have covered 1502 km getting to Moscow then that’s 5881 km total so far – that is further than I had guessed. As you can see its dry and sunny now, not sure how cold, maybe around -10 degrees C. Lots of platform food action here – beer, weird dried fish and chilled dumplings – we must be getting more Eastern if the food is anything to go by. The mode of transport for these mobile “shops” is by sledge […]

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