More Train & Ulan-Ude

wpid-wp-1436907341557.jpegDifferent train, same procedure: By now we are pros when it comes to Russian trains. We board, settle in, take the sheets (even though we are traveling merely 8 hours, and during the day) to have our beloved naps, and off we go. This part of the Transmongolian is said to be the most beautiful, and indeed, even though it is a bit foggy today, driving around the lake (almost on the shore partially) is an experience we wouldn’t wanna miss. Besides taking pictures of the scenery, we do the usual: Eat, sleep, read, repeat. Write more for the blog. It becomes surprisingly stressful to travel without internet and write online at the same time…

wpid-wp-1438761539653.jpegArriving in Ulan-Ude we are not sure if the train took the correct route or accidentally went to Qatar or something. It is like in an oven, but worse. Luckily we find a minibus soon that brings us almost directly to the hotel, which is right at the biggest Lenin-Head statue worldwide: 7.7 metres high, and object to numerous joke pics, as our hostel bathroom wall shows. The Ulan-Ude hostel is finally like we like a good hostel: friendly staff, little notes everywhere, international atmosphere, ice cold showers. Unfortunately, our tickets to Mongolia have been booked wrong by them, instead of the 13th they got us tickets for the 30th. We don’t wanna stay this long in Russia, though! Also, Russia doesn’t want us anymore after the 14th, when our visas expire. We have 3 options now: Either, we still find a spot on the bus tomorrow, or we buy a train ticket for double the price, or we go ourselves by local bus, hitchhiking across the border, then more local buses. The last option sounds the most promising for good blog mDSCF1183aterial, but the others vote against it. On the bus, there is no space anymore. So we decide to go for the train – but then the hostel arranges a surprise private shuttle for us: a minibus just for ourselves, with a driver, from Ulan-Ude till Ulaan Baatar. Now we’re talking!

Problems are not over yet, and dinner has to wait a bit more: The hostess from Listvyanka (remember, the one that got all revengy when we didn’t like her alternative plan for our missing apartment) has apparently claimed to our booking platform that we never paid and actually never arrived there. We have to call them, explain the situation and offer to send the pictures of us in the rooms. Only then we can finally try our luck with local food. No English menus, no English speakers, but we get exactly what we like. Yeah! Or maybe we are just very uncomplicated eaters.

wpid-wp-1438761535108.jpegIt doesn’t feel like being in Russia anymore. The people look different (we already feel like aliens, and everyone is indeed staring at us), the landscape looks different, and when we drive to Mongolia the next morning in our private minibus we can see that this part of Russia actually did look a lot like Mongolia already. But also the Mongolian landscape is changing constantly on our 11 hours trip (well, 2 of them we spent at the border, showing our passports and unpacking and repacking our luggage, basically).

From steppe with brown soil to green hills, the scenery continuously lets you see until the end of the world, or so it seems. It is hard to describe. It feels like being in complete freedom. Horses, cows and goats graze freely, now and then we need to make a full brake when some of them decide to cross the road – almost like in Lapland with the reindeer. The streets anyways are so bumpy that it not only becomes a challenge to take pictures, but also to just sit there without breaking your spine. Our driver, Baldan, has fun pretending we are on a roller coaster, and even though we don’t speak the same language, we manage to get some group pictures with him, that we will send him “on the internet”, and have two lunch stops together. He also helps us calling the hostel in Ulan-Ude because Zaira has lost her wallet with her ID and her bankcard there. It is not to be found, however, and we need to also call to Nordea for 1 mio euros and close the card.

wpid-wp-1438761530515.jpegWhen we arrive in Ulaan-Baatar we have time to eat something quickly, and then it’s bedtime already. For some reason, it is another hour later here. We didn’t expect that. We are now +6 hours from Finnish, and +7 hours from Central European time. In the morning we will go to our big adventure in Mongolia, on a tour with sleeping in a Yurt (and no showers or internet, of course), we are really looking forward to that! Hoepfully, in the next place with internet we can upload more pictures. The wifi here stopped working suddenly for some reason…


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