So it begins. Our last train, and our last border crossing. Of course, that was all dependent on Vogy showing up on time…which she didn’t.
at 7, we all made a group decision and got on the bus, which then left without her. She’d given us our tickets in advance so it wasn’t going to be impossible to find our way…which thankfully didn’t turn into an issue because midway to the station, Vogy jumped on, very apologetic and sorry for oversleeping.
I’d dressed for the train, not Mongolia, so it was freezing! We were all desperate to get on the train, but held back just long enough to say goodbye to Vogy and give her a tip before waving her off and fleeing for the warmth.
This train was a weird one for us – the last 2 trains we’d been in rooms 3-4. This time we were 5-6, and the rooms themselves were pretty dismal. No mattress for the bed, scratchy woollen blankets for covers, a window that could open but were were banned from doing so, and an air con that only blew out cold air. For the first time on our journey, we were actually too cold in the trains.
Everyone was exhausted from the night before though, so nobody really complained in favour of crashing on our hard beds and sleeping for a few hours. When we finally did emerge, I we killed time by exploring the train (a lot more Westerners on this leg of the journey) and checking out the dining car. Nicest one we’d had by far, but was out of just about everything. We all ended up back in our cabins, and ours killed time by watching episodes of Archer – which our ‘man of the cabin’ had on his Chromebook and we’d been watching on and off all trip.
The actual crossing was around 6 in the evening, and had us stopped at a station for about 3 hours. There was no getting off here, and we more or less huddled round the room eating the last of our instant noodles and filling out custom forms. This was the duller part of the crossing – it was the second part that was supposedly interesting. When you passed through into China and went to get the bogy’s changed.
From what I understand, the railroads in China are different from those in Mongolia and Russia. However, rather than just make the passengers change trains, China changes the wheels. There was no option to get off, so we all got front row seats in the train to be jerked around at random intervals while watching the train opposite us get lifted up.
It’s a slow process, and I honestly don’t remember being lifted as its so slow. The most you feel is this vicious jerking that happens at random intervals and WILL make you lose your footing. After about half an hour, yesterdays exhaustion caught up with me, and the wheel changing just wasn’t interesting enough to keep me up. Ended up collapsing into bed (though with the jerking continuing for at least another hour, I’d wake up in a panic every time the train shifted me) and preparing for tomorrow in Beijing.