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.