Trans Siberian Railway | Ulaanbaatar (6,464km)

Moscow (0km) -> Kazan (820km) -> Yekaterinburg (1,814km) -> Tomsk (3,664km) -> Irkutsk (5,185km) -> Ulaanbaatar (6,464km) -> Beijing (8,015km) -> Hong Kong (10,265km) 

*The km count is based on how far I am from since I started in Moscow, not the actual km marks on the Trans Siberian and Trans Mongolian Railway. 
  • Moscow: Kremlin, Red Square, State History Museum, Izmailovo Market
  • Kazan: Kul Sharif Mosque, Kazan Kremlin, National Museum of the Republic State of Tatarstan, Bauman Street, Epiphany Bell Tower, Nizhny Kaban Lake
  • Yekaterinburg: the Europe and Asia border
  • Tomsk: Tomsk State University
  • Irkutsk: Listvyanka Dog Sledding, Lake Baikal via the Great Baikal Trail and the Circum Baikal Railway
  • Ulaanbaatar: Genghis Kahn Square, Winter Palace, National Museum of Mongolia, Gandan Monastery, Terelj National Park - Genghis Kahn Statue, Vultures, Camels, Traditonal Mongolia clothing, Turtle Rock, Lunch in a Yurt, horse riding, Ariyabal Meditation Temple
  • Beijing: Lama Temple, Forbidden Palace, Tiananmen Square, Great Wall of China, Old Summer Palace, China High Speed Train

March 29 (Tue) Ulaanbaatar Day 1 

I woke up with only 10minutes before the train pulled into Ulaanbaatar station early morning. I was exhausted from the previous day’s long customs check. Upon leaving the train there were mobs of taxi drivers and tour group hustling you. One lady told me she thought I was Mongolian! The sun was rising ahead of the train and started shining on the platform. I ignored the crowds and walked towards my hotel, which is just 10 minutes across from the train station. It was hidden behind some buildings though so I’m very glad I did the virtual walk on google maps before arriving. 

I checked in and showered and had breakfast around 9am. They served a really big continental breakfast with toast, salad, omlet, fruits, and yoghurt. It was basically brunch.

I called a cab to go pick up my train ticket in the city center. He didn’t speak any English, and I totally forgot to agree on an amount in advance, so I was robbed of 10,000 tugrik when it should’ve been 5,000. No more taking cabs in Ulaanbaatar. The building and office of the tick pick up looked pretty dodgy. It’s a residential building with a rusty backdoor and dark wooden staircase. But the office was very well lit inside. I saw the list of other passengers who also bought tickets, I was the only Asian. Most of the other passengers were American, Australian, British, German, or other Europeans. 

After that, I walked to the Genghis Kahn Square. The roads were blocked in front of the government building and traffic was horrendous, cars honked and didn’t let pedestrians cross the street first. It’s certainly not as friendly as Russia when it comes to traffic and pedestrian awareness. At the square near the statue in the middle, I saw a group of soldiers and I went up to ask for a photo! They thought I was either Korean or Russian? Maybe East Russians look a bit Asian mixed.

I walked super far to the Winter Palace in the south but it was closed!! So I went back to the Square to the National Museum. It was pretty impressive. Funnily, they charge you 8,000 tugrik for entrance but 10,000 tugrik for photography fee. You could maybe take photos of only 70% of the items in there. They had a lot of cool artifacts. 

After the museum I walked west and found a souvenir shop. Because I have such a heavy backpack, I only bought light gifts like a gold bookmark and a small print painting with Mongolian writing on it. I also saw on the Lonely planet guide book that there’s a “Books in English” store, I’m so glad since I’ve ran out of things to read for a while and Russia didn’t have any English books. 

So, Mongolians are also aggressive spitters like the Chinese. 

I walked to the Gandan Monastery along Peace Ave. There were a zoo of pigeons! There’s also this Pigeon scam where people forcefully give you feeding seeds then wait for you to open it then ask for money. This woman put it in my hands and ran away but I just put it back on the bench and walked away. And again in the monastery I was asked to pay for entrance and a fee for photography. I am tired of this tourism trap and scam environment. Sorry Mongolia, that is just a no go for me. I much preferred how Russia had all the pricing written clearly on the wall and no hidden charges. 

Before going back to the hotel I found a supermarket and stocked up for food for the Beijing train ride. There were lots of Korean products, food products, beauty products, Korean BBQ places and karaoke bars. IT appears that Mongolians often go to Korea for work and bring back the culture. Korean drama is also very popular in Mongolia. Mongolian women even wear makeup similar to Korean makeup. 

Back at the hotel, I tried to nap. There was a band playing outside the hotel, seems to be some kind of parade band practicing. I napped till 8pm and head down for dinner. Totally over ordered and it’s still relatively cheap. Another group was drinking and a man came up to me to ask where I’m from. They all think I’m Korean apparently.

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