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Trans-Mongolian

Krasnoyarsk

Morning! Sunrise in Siberia. I have made the switch from Moscow time to Beijing time. Its a 4 hour difference and an ongoing issue for the Trans-Sib adventurer. The train schedule is in Moscow time and does not change until the Mongolian border. However the daylight, and vitally the restaurant carriage, operate in a local time. There is no perfect answer but I have made a¬†full jump to Beijing time leaving one watch on Moscow time just so I can read the timetable properly. The reason for doing this is that I slept through much of Mongolia last trip, and […]

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Omsk

Greetings from a white and wintery Omsk! Another crew in and more coal on board to see us through to this evening’s stop at Novosibirsk. It is still snowing, so it can’t be as cold as I thought it was. We are getting huge accumulations of ice under the train that needs clearing each time we stop – otherwise things like the drains, the water tanks and the brakes freeze up. The solution is to whack the bogies hard with a big metal rod and then pour boiling water on the drain pipe.. If you saw my post from the […]

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Ishim

Morning! It looks like we are running half an hour late – we have just pulled into Ishim at 08.28 Moscow time for a quick pit stop – 12 minutes here according to the schedule, so I’m not getting off. The brakes on our carriage seem to be playing up – when the driver slows the train our carriage tries to do a full emergency stop. I’m guessing we have iced up underneath, so hoping they can fix it later this morning, as its bad enough to throw you out of bed.. It’s getting colder outside now (and more bearable […]

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Kirov

I left Moscow at 21.35 last night on train 004, the Chinese run Trans-Mongolian that goes once a week to Beijing. Setting off was slightly like a trip to “Hogwarts”, as we helped guide a few others to the mystical, and slightly hidden, platform 3 3/4. Carriage 9 (my home for the week) is in fact full of fellow Western tourists. I had a pretty rough night, the problem being that the Chinese guards are obviously undergoing jungle training, and have set the temperature in the carriage to well over 30 degrees. In a desperate attempt to seek cool air […]

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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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Ilanskaya

Distance so far: 7622 km, -30 C (estimate), cloudy. Local time: GMT+8 Just a short update from Ilanskaya. I got off the train to have a look at the new locomotive whilst we took on more coal. The temperature has dropped considerably since yesterday. There was no thermometer on the platform (often there is a digital clock and thermometer) but a local wrote “-35” in dust on the side of the train. It’s so cold now that my camera shuts down in a couple of minutes if its out of my pocket. Stephan went to see our train commander to […]

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