Get out of Jail Free Card
Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
371Trip End Feb 26, 2011
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Where I stayed
On a train leaving Moscow
Before we left we were chatting to the hostel 'manager' who boldly stated "the owner lives in a fantasy world I'm the one who lives in the real world and sees things day to day, the likely hood is you will be removed from the train at the Mogolian border sent back to Moscow and have to reapply, in the mean time your visa will have expired and you will probably be deported"
When both the manager and owner disappeared she told us the coast was clear and we could leave. A quick metro ride brought us out in the middle of some major industrial and communist apartments which were.... erm, interesting. Then our translator (remaining nameless for obvious reasons suggested she would flag down an illegal taxi, put your arm out and the first car that was passing pulls over, amazing! We jumped in some kind of time warp into an old heap of a car which reminded us of grand theft auto, the radio station and bizarre and very erratic driving in which we nearly crashed at least once trying to cut through three lanes of speeding traffic head on at one junction almost made me skid my underpants. This cost about 3 Pounds about 1/4 the cost of a proper taxi which there weren't any anyway.
We spent an hour waiting for someone at the downstairs reception with no chairs and the friendly locals a mixture of criminals, mafioso, serious gun wielding and truncheon wielding policemen / general thugs and two fools one of which had lost a migration card. The building was enormous and had some very impressive Stalin busts (oo eer).
Another 1 hour wait stood outside the office was very pleasurable especially for our host who was getting into more and more trouble
Went back to red square and got some replacement snaps but the Lenin Mausoleum was closed so we didn't get to see a dead historical figure.
At 20:00 we headed for the train station, via a few changes on the metro that we were finally starting to get our heads around, to board the trans Mongolian express.
I had to leave Erica in the train station while I hot footed it around the station and far far beyond in search for the necessary supplies for a 6 day train journey, yes that's right, Vodka and rehydrated mash with a sachet of cat food and some noodles
For other travellers reading this we were on train number 006 from Moscow to Ulanbator. Now neither Erica or I had preconceived ideas of what to expect and we had been told that there were a number of hawkers on this train. As we approached the platform we were there earlier than most ( due to time paranoia obviously and the phobia of being late) and out of nowhere sprang hundreds and hundreds of Mongolians, who were not evident anywhere around the station. Some had huge amounts of luggage, boxes, laundry bags that were so heavy they were being dragged around on trolleys. I said to Erica "look at what that woman is wearing spandex", clearly my eyesight has been fading for a number of years and has been a bit of a joke. The woman in question did not have a body and was half a mannequin. It was just all very odd.
What we probably expected was about 35% Russians, 35% Mongolians and 30% mixed foreigners / travellers. As the train pulled in we were the only non Mongolian people there
Had to get on so drank beer and vodka, had a portion of mash and a portion of noodles and tried to go to sleep. This was our welcome to the Trans Mongolian.