The journey from Beijing to Ulaanbaartar is about 26 hours but trains are really the way to travel (if time isn’t an option). I mean I got to rest, take a few naps, eat snacks, and color for 26 hours in complete privacy. I could go the bathroom whenever I wanted and stand up whenever I want. I probably could of done a handstand too if I was capable of doing one.
Nothing much happened the first day. I got some Crispy Chicken from the dining car that was more crisp than chicken. The main event happened when we arrived at the border. The wheel sizes on Chinese and Mongolian railways are different so they had to change them. It’s a time consuming and rather loud process and not possible to sleep through. In addition, we had to deal with immigration. I had to fill out multiple cards with my name and passport number saying that I wasn’t carrying illegal items and all that jazz. The Chinese had my passport for what seemed like forever. As an American citizen I don’t need a visa to enter Mongolia but I was still nervous about something bad happening. After I got my passport back with a stamp from Mongolia I crashed and finally got some good sleep. Oh yes. All this happened from like 10:30pm to 2am. Good times.
I woke up once and looked outside my window to a white wilderness. I concluded, “Yup, I am in Mongolia.” I went back to sleep. I woke up again and saw a train that had a horse on it. I definitely was in Mongolia.
At the border we lost the Chinese dining car and got a new Mongolian one. The Chinese dining car tried to be nice with its fake flowers but the Mongolian one won. The Chinese car did sell cheaper water. And the Mongolian car took Chinese, Mongolian, and I think even American currency in case you are curious.
I got a small taste of Mongolia after we crossed the border and got to hear some of the language. But it was still very Chinese as most of the workers were from China. During lunch time they cleaned their vegetables and made rice right near the bathrooms and in their rooms.
Going during non peak season really made my trip an unique experience. I am pretty sure it was just me and the conductor in the train car number two. I saw more workers than passengers. The train was basically empty. I mean, I had a room meant for four people all to myself!
We arrived on time and I was thrown in to a completely new world with all my luggage. I was ready for ice piercing, I am going to die, “this is the coldest cold I have ever felt” cold but it wasn’t. The language sounded so completely different than English or Chinese, the currency was different, the drivers are on the other side of the road, and even the buildings were different colors. It was overwhelming and exciting at the same time. I wanted to enjoy it all but I really just wanted to drop off all my luggage.
What is the longest train ride you have been on? Would you ever want to take a train ride from Beijing to Ulaanbaartar?