Old Bird Diaries

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ULAANBAATAR CAPITAL OF MONGOLIA.

OR MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH MONGOLIA AND IT’S PEOPLE

I only spent four days here but I fell in love with it and it’s people. I arrived at six in the morning and got a cab using some euros I had (you can’t get currency outside) The drive to the central square was about three minutes! The cabby was a ruddy faced lovely chap and I was impressed at how helpful he tried to be with very little English! My hotel, the Khuvsgul Lake Hotel was a sheer delight. A tall building overlooking the square, a brand new no frills place that had frills!

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TRAIN PROTOCOL CROSSING BORDERS.

OR IRKUTSK TO ULAANBAATAR TRAIN JOURNEY

Holiday cabins on the shoreline of the frozen Lake Baikal.

Should have known it was all too jolly. I was welcomed by some people who had stayed on the train since Moscow and were not getting off at all until Beijing- the fools. They all had a twitchy feel to them, like people who’d had too much coffee, and there was a reason. They hadn’t had any external input since Moscow they hadn’t had anyone new come into first-class so hadn’t had any fresh blood since Moscow.

Random pic of me going mad at the Jurassic Coast

They weren’t getting off the train in the near future and they were in that strange state that I had been in when I arrived in Irkutsk… feral and somnambulant. They cross-questioned me on what Lake Baikal and Irkutsk had been like and I told them how amazing it all was and started to explain how cold, cruel and magnificent it was, then I asked them about the diner. With that, they lost interest and scurried off barely answering my questions (they probably no longer equated there was a world outside the poor lost souls) and like a group of junkies wandered glazed eyed up to the diner with cups of tea and grubby UNO cards clutched in their fists like a fix. I followed them but they were fast, when I got there, they were already hunched over their cards at a table playing what I can only presume to be their millionth game since Moscow.

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IRKUTSK AND THE NEXT TRAIN BIT TO ULAANBATAAR.

OR NOT THE PARIS OF SIBERIA. LET’S GET BACK ON THE TRAIN AGAIN:(

I wanted to love Irkutsk, so many times labelled the Paris of Siberia. However I ended up feeling apathetic about it. The cab had been late picking me up from Listvyanka so I was all of a tizz and had made my plans in a shoddy anxious way having expected to have the full day there and seeing it slip away from me.

Weird hotel breakfast obviously for the Chinese tourists and there were a lot! I missed it as I was running for train
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THE FABULOUS LAKE BAIKAL.

OR ICE SCULPTURE AND -40 WIND CHILL FACTOR.

Cautiously getting off the train in the early light of a freezing Siberian morning in February, I immediately saw my name on board clasped to a mans chest. Seeing as I was the only person getting off he stepped forward to grab my little suitcase and drive me off to Listvyanka on Lake Baikal.

Ice blocks cut from the lake make for stunning sculptures.
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TRANS SIBERIAN EXPRESS DAY 2

or How the Old Bird nearly broke the Train.

They tap off ice at each station, that’s not my fault!

Well it was bloody hot at night and I saw no problem in prizing open the window a bit. It was difficult to do but I was determined, a right stubborn old bird bent on destruction!
Mistake.

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TRANS SIBERIAN EXPRESS

OR AN INTRO TO TRAIN LIFE! HOORAY!

ALL ABOARD! IT’S TIME FOR TRAIN LIFE. THE ONCE IN A LIFETIME ADVENTURE ACROSS THE HUGE EXPANSE OF SIBERIA AND MONGOLIA ENDING IN BEIJING. BETTER KNOW AS THE TRANS SIBERIAN EXPRESS!


MIDNIGHT EXPRESS MOSCOW IRKUTZ. WELCOME TO OVER THREE DAYS OF RUSSIAN TRAIN LIFE. WELCOME TO TRAIN NUMBER 20.