Day 3-7: Trans Mongolia Express

Trans Mongolia Express 05-04-2016 – 10-04-2016

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We booked 2 beds in a 4 persons cabin (a private cabin was too expensive) for the train from Moscow to Ulaanbaatar. As soon as the conductor showed us our ‘room’ I was a bit shocked. I expected it to be small, but this? When we booked it we expected the rooms to be bigger but there’s no way you can stand here with 4 people at the same time – just to mention the room was 2 meters by 1.5 meter. The train left at 11.45 pm and Kas and I were lucky – we were still with the two of us in the 4 persons cabin.

The first night was horrible – the bed is hard, it’s the same feeling as lying on the ground. Besides this, the train is moving, makes quite some noise and stopped that night every three hours.

Because of the low season the train is almost empty – except from our coupe. We share the toilet and the sink – yes we couldn’t shower for 5 days – with 10 other people. With some of those people we had drinks together a couple of times – fascinating to see how easily you meet people. For example the conversation with Clautilde – a French girl – she loved the people in Moscow. She told us she learned a bit Russian – just the basic part – before visiting this city. Everytime she spoke Russian, they smiled and helped her out. So maybe a good tip if you are planning to go to Moscow; learn the language.

Speaking about Clautilde, she also has a blog, but not like we expect. She doesn’t write stories, she draws them. And they are amazing. It’s defenitely worth a look. You can find it here!

There’s not much to do in the train besides reading, sleeping, watching the beautiful nature and small talks. Sometimes the train stops at a station – it depends how long, from 5 to 25 minutes -then you are able to go out. It’s good to have some fresh air, stretch your legs and you can buy some food at the small shops of the station or you can buy some food from local woman. Almost every stop they are waiting for the trains to come, with a car of homemade food. You should try this out – its cheap and tasty – defenitely better then the food that they sell in the train.

Among all the young people we had a special and cute neighbour; a baby girl of 2 years old. When she came in we were a bit surprised; 2 years old and 5 whole days in the train? Isn’t it asking for a crying kid? But it turned out to be the opposite, a sweet all day laughing girl. She was traveling with her mom from Mongolia (their home town) to Moscow and now they are traveling back home. Everyday she brought a visit to everybody in the coupe. Playing, singing and talking all day long. Those 5 days we only heard her cry as soon as she had to go to bed – she loved being around all the people.

Another special person we’ve met in the train is Martin; a 75 year old man from Switzerland. Martin doesnt’t want to take the plane because of the pollution. He did this traintrip 3 times already and loves it, in the train he finds the time and rest to learn Chinese and Spanish and play some violin. One night he gave us a small concert, amazing! He is also a great story teller based on all the amazing things he experienced. He negotiated for exemple during the cold war in Russia with Gorbatsjov.

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You can say this train trip was special. Sometimes I was a bit restless; wanted to go outside, have a long walk and after 4 days I looked forward to a nice shower. The sleeping part was only rough the first night, you get used to it and I loved the flow of the train – I will miss it when I will sleep in a normal bed again. The thing I loved the most about this train were the people; it felt like we were one group of friends, traveling all together.

Now it’s time to explore Mongolia till Thursday, then we will take the train to Bejing!

Do you’ve any plans making this train trip? Please make sure you take this stuff with you:
– Food! This one is important. Somebody told me we should take some snacks and food. We are so happy we did. The food in the train is not very tasty and expensive. We took some brown bread, fruits, crackers, nuts, chocolate and ginger (perfect to make some tea)
– Washcloth. Seriously, otherwise you will smell yourself after a few days.
– Toilet paper. Something that’s not available in the train so make it yourself comfortable and bring enough.
– Cards / games. After 2 days of doing nothing you will be happy you brought some games. It’s also a good way to meet people.
– An external charger. There are just a few charging points which are not always working. You will be bored when your Ereader is out of battery, believe me.
– Water. There are days when they don’t have cold water anymore. Boiled water is always available, so you can cool this down if you like.
– Flipflops. The toilet is not clean, so do yourself a favour and put something on your feet.

Day 1+2. Goodbyes & Moscow – Russia.

Moscow: 04-04-2016 // 05-04-2016

Monday the 4th of April, time to start our journey. So excited to discover the world but also a bit nervous; what are we going to do coming year? The hardest part of this Monday was to say ‘goodbye’ to my mom. But as soon as we ended our hugging and dried our tears, I was ready to go! After a few hours we were airborn from Amsterdam to Moscow.

We booked the first part of our trip with Tiara Tours, it was easier to book the Trans Mongolia Express with an organisation as Tiara. They’ve arranged everything for us; transfers, hostels, excursions, the train, the stop in Mongolia and our VISA. The hotel they booked for the first night was Maxima Hotels. A hotel 20 minutes from the city center of Moscow. Clean, not to big and the rooms were fine – it had everything you need.

Tuesday the 5th of April we explored Moscow with our guide. She took us with the metro to the heart of Moscow. I truly recommend to travel by metro when you are in Moscow. Due to the 11 million (!) inhabitants there are always traffic jams and it will take you hours to get to your destination. The metros in Moscow go every minute – seriously – and besides it is easier, it’s also very beautiful. The metro stations all look like musea – made by Jozef Stalin to impress the world after World War 2. Also to show the citizens a bright future – marble walls, beautiful chandeliers and golden decorations.

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The guide – Elena – showed us the Historical museum, the red square, the Kremlin, the St. Basil’s Cathedral and the lovely shoppingcentre GUM. The red square was absolutely impressive and I loved all the colors of the St. Basil’s Cathedral. We had lunch in the GUM, which you should visit if you are in Moscow. Besides those must-sees this city is a museum itself. The buildings are build in Barok style but all in different shapes and pastel colors.

One of the most impressive things today was passing the side where Boris Nemtsov – a very important Russian politician and criticaster of Putin – was murdered. The reason behind his dead is still not revealed. These moments makes you realize you are just a small ant in the big world.

While we were impressed by the city, we didn’t really like the people. They have a very closed personality and nobody smiled.

After dinner at the hotel we relaxed a bit and at 11.45 pm it was time to take the train. Honestly – I was a bit nervous, something we wanted to do so badly, but how will we actually experience it?