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September 12th 2007
Published: October 1st 2007
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Uncle MaoUncle MaoUncle Mao

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
And watch 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.




Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21


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Dragon's TailDragon's Tail
Dragon's Tail

This section of the Great Wall (which is the very end) was commenced and overseen by General Huang Ya Guan over 1400 years ago.
Gang of EightGang of Eight
Gang of Eight

Beginning of the walk
Long Walk to LunchLong Walk to Lunch
Long Walk to Lunch

As far as the crow flies this section is probably only 3 kms, but look at all those steps!
Marauding Mongol RabbitsMarauding Mongol Rabbits
Marauding Mongol Rabbits

Paul paying homage to a broadband advert as to why the Great Wall of China was built. Only Aussies will get this joke.
Rest BreakRest Break
Rest Break

View from the 5th watchtower looking back to where we started
Top ViewTop View
Top View

You can ever have too many pictures of the Great Wall
Almost FinishedAlmost Finished
Almost Finished

View looking back from the last section before heading down towards the town (and lunch!)
ShoppingShopping
Shopping

Maura buying some peaches on the way back to Beijing to take on the train the next morning
Onward Ho!Onward Ho!
Onward Ho!

Beijing is a long way behind us. Next stop - Ulaanbaatar!
Chinese platform vendorChinese platform vendor
Chinese platform vendor

You'll never go hungry on the Chinese platforms if you forget to buy train supplies
Changing the BogeysChanging the Bogeys
Changing the Bogeys

We got to stay in our carriage to watch the bogeys being changed.
BrekkyBrekky
Brekky

Waiting for my pancakes with jam and cheese omelette in the swish Mongolian Dining Car.
Mongolian RocksMongolian Rocks
Mongolian Rocks

Young vendor selling crystals at Choyr station
Clickety-ClackClickety-Clack
Clickety-Clack

The train needed all 4 engines as the terrain became steeper the closer we got to Ulaanbaatar
My ger is my castleMy ger is my castle
My ger is my castle

Suburban outskirts of Ulaanbaatar - a mixture of fenced-in gers (called "hashaa") and regular houses
You say Genghis; We say ChinggisYou say Genghis; We say Chinggis
You say Genghis; We say Chinggis

Image of Chinggis Khan on the hillside welcoming us to Ulaanbaatar


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