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Published: October 1st 2007
Entrance to the Forbidden City
Sorry but haven't had any time until St Petersburg to start this blog. So here goes...
Landed in Beijing on the 8th September evening and was picked up by the local guide Wang Hao. Only had time for a quick shower and then it was onto dinner to meet the group. There are 8 of us in total, including myself. I'm really fortunate - they are a fun bunch of people. Have had a couple of long, hot and tiring days packed full of sights and experiences - eg. Tiananmen Square; Forbidden City (a lot of the buildings being tarted up for the 2008 Olympics so no decent pictures to take); Summer Palace; an acrobatic show; and walking the Huang Ya Guan section of the Great Wall of China (we were the only group there which was really special). Also sampled some local Northern Chinese cuisine including the famous Peking Duck.
Then it was onto the Trans Mongolian Railroad for the overnight 30 hour journey to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. One settles into train life really quickly. Watching the scenery passing by is like a moving slide show. We took advantage of every opportunity to jump off the train at the
various stops for a stretch of the legs and to ferret out any local goodies from the platform vendors. The next day was Clive's 75th birthday. But he decided to start the celebrations early by inviting us all to his cabin for whiskey "sundowners". It certainly made the time pass very quickly especially during the 5 hour wait along the Chinese and Mongolian borders. It takes this long as they have to change all the train bogies - Mongolia and Russia have a different gauge system to China and Europe.
Edith (Crowne) wrote a brilliant poem for the group to cover our experiences travelling on the train from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar.
Clickety-clack, there's no Turning Back
Clickety-clack, clickety-clack, we're moving forward
Can't go back.
Out of the city, over the hills
Thru long dark tunnels. Oh! What thrills.
Lonely villages, hard working folk
Growing their corn away from the smoke.
Then to the border, the changing of wheels
We dance on the platform, that shows how one feels.
The train breaks in half, disappears from our sight
Then slowly returns from the darkness of night.
We clamber aboard and glide to a shed
with delight as new bogeys are fed.
Under our carriage - a bang and a crash
Then they lower us down and we're ready to dash.
Clickety-clack, Mongolian track
All thru the night, there's no turning back.
Clive has a birthday, I greet him with song,
There's no turning back...... another year gone.
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