Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Friday 11th October - To Beijing

Today is our final day on the Trans Mongolian express, we're in China and suddenly the scenery has changed dramatically. We're out of the Gobi, and the train now winds through fertile river valleys, punctuated by regular towns and villages. the population density here is clearly much higher than in all of Russia and Mongolia.

Big cities with large building developments are ten a penny. Here's another:

Railway workers, waiting to work.

This is the Chinese restaurant car, attached last night at the border. For the first time we see people actually eating, rather than just drinking. I guess that means the quality of the catering is better than the Russian and Mongolian equivalents.

For the last 80km or so, the train traverses a rather pretty gorge in its approach to Beijing. Despite looking out, we missed the promised glimpses of the Great Wall.

This is the second class compartment that the four of us decided to share for the final leg. A bit cramped, but nevertheless comfortable and social. Wouldn't want to share with a snoring stranger though.

After arrival at the futuristic and incredibly busy Beijing central station, we haggle for a minicab and settle on 120 Yuan for the half hour ride that introduces us to the Beijing traffic nightmare and the suicidal tendencies of its scooter riding population.

The hostel we're staying in tonight is called Chinese Box Courtyard Hostel, it's a wonderful friendly place down an alley to the west of the Forbidden City near Xisi metro station. We arrive just a little bit too late to make a worthwhile visit to the Forbidden city, so settle in for the night.

The leafy courtyard at China Box

Friday night is free dumplings night at China Box, so we eat well and supplement that with a delicious chicken dish and a couple of cheap local lagers. The rest of the evening is spent working out logistics for tomorrow's trip to the Great Wall and onward travel.

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