Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Thursday 10th October - Back on the train from Mongolia to the Chinese border - The Gobi desert.

Rising quietly at 5.30 in consideration of our fellow dormers, (one of whom has cycled 30000km around Europe and Asia to get here, having left his home in Holland three years ago), the four of us walk down to UB station and join the 7.15 Beijing bound train. 

The amusement park development taking shape near the centre of UB

These are the gers belonging to ex-nomads who've moved off the steppes, so creating shanty like suburbs of the capital. Their decision may have been aided by government grants, but whether it will ultimately be beneficial seems somewhat unlikely. [There's a lot of NGOs out here, some are trying to determine whether the nomadic lands have been overgrazed. That opinion is proffered by the Chinese government regarding their nomadic people's in the far west and north of the country, but the matter is contentious and truth is as usual more complicated.]

The capital is expanding - here is a development of western style houses marking the current eastern edge. Of those who can afford to live in these expensive new dwellings, who will want to? Between here and downtown are the ger favellas. After this there is only desert. 

Snow Pony

The train winds out south-east from the capital through the beautiful valley corridor towards the northern edge of the Gobi.

Are these masts a former soviet experiment in weather control? Probably not, but they mark the edge of the snow line.

Into the vast Gobi.

On the horizon an old soviet airforce base. The bumps are missile silos, probably.

Our Chinese diesel locos, a much smoother ride than the Russian electrics, but you don't want to be in carriage one where soot marks spot the windows, and smoke comes up through the toilet. We were in carriage one.


Ger alert. There are still those out here living the nomad life; not all have abandoned and moved to the city.

The guards on this leg are much more relaxed about leaving the windows open, despite the diesel smoke blowing in.

The Mongolian restaurant car, attached at UB, considerably nicer than the Russian, with lovely carved screens and reindeer heads everywhere (good for hanging your coat). However, its nearly twice the price for drinks as the Russian.

...and we are...here! ...Possibly.

Sunset over the Gobi desert.

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