Cate and Rog

cateandrog

Cate and Rog

In 2015-16 we took 6 months off from normal life and travelled three quarters of the Pacific rim, from Alaska to Australia. Now we continue our adventures against the back drop of day jobs, still trying to see as much of this world as possible.

Currently turning the clock back to our Russian / Trans-Siberian adventures of 2017, but this year brings travels in the Balkans and Patagonia at least!



Asia » China » Beijing April 3rd 2019

R: First job - find a metro ticket. Rather, find the train ticket again. Unusually there was a ticket control at the main station doors that was besieged by people. This proved harder than expected as we couldn't remember where we had put them and we were now in a slow moving shuffling queue. Next, find a metro ticket. And also, money. Richard had come prepared with some Yuan, but I had not. For now I had to start spending his. We found our way onto the Metro and, by the way, it was much hotter in Beijing than anywhere else we had been yet. The metro was quite an experience - there was a lot of underground walking to get to the trains and we were saluted by the police at every entrance, where, in ... read more
Atop the Drum tower
Below the Drum Tower
Beijing - old hutong and new city

Asia » China » Beijing April 2nd 2019

R: By the time we crossed the border it was about 1am (Chinese time). I set an alarm on my phone as the train passed along the route of the great wall of China at around 7am just after stopping at Datong. Now, having got used to the slow pace of life on the train, and being fairly tired from the previous weeks activities - I didn't make the alarm. By the time I had woken up, got up and out, and escaped the compartment, the wall was in the distance and could only just be seen through the dirty train windows. (This was a Chinese train remember, and I don't think it gets cleaned in Moscow so it has been nearly 2 weeks since its last wash!). I did manage to see glimpses of it ... read more
Proper Agriculture
Arrival at Beijing Main Station
Feeling very built up

Asia » China » Inner Mongolia » Erlyan March 21st 2019

R: We left the hotel, bags stuffed with products from the Mongolian supermarket and a packed breakfast our hotel had insisted on giving us. A 15 minute walk along quiet roads brought us back to Ulaanbataar station. Our train was at 07:30. This time it was a Chinese train we were getting - the previous ones had been Russian - and this was the other train (of the 2 per week) that ran direct from Moscow to Beijing, so it had already been some way before it pulled in to Ulaanbataar. The accommodation was very similar to before, but noticeably dirtier. The carriage attendants on this train (not called Provonitzas anymore) were surly looking men who spent most of their time standing at the back of the carriage smoking. There were no humorous night dress incidents, ... read more
Crossing the Gobi Desert
Moscow --> Ulaanbataar --> Beijing
From the back of the train

Asia » Mongolia » Terelj March 18th 2019

R: The next day was our trip out into the Mongolian countryside. The best way to do this is hire a 4x4 and guide so we did just that. First we headed out to the Genghis Khan statue which is about 55km out of town. Its a strange site - really in the middle of nowhere - the intention being that the statue looks over the land of the Mongols. It has a large car park and then a flight of stairs up. The statue was completed in 2008 but the noticeable thing was the decaying steps as you headed up to the building. You go in through a building at the bottom which has a shop and museum filled with slightly unusual exhibits in the basement, before taking the lift up to just below the ... read more
Turtle Rock
Bridge to the Monastery
View from Ariyabal

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar March 17th 2019

R: We awoke to see a golden sunrise across Mongolia. The landscape was still peppered with yurts but now the buildings were getting more dense as well as we approached Ulaanbataar. We pulled in on time at 6am. We had booked a hotel in the station district to make things easier so this was just a short walk away. The staff at the hotel were great and offered us a free breakfast - the room was also ready already! It was great to have a shower and a refresh - our first night in a hotel with a shower for 6 days. As we had just 2 days off the train in Mongolia, I had pre-arranged a driver for the day. The distances in Ulaanbataar to things you would want to see are quite far and ... read more
Gandan Khiid
Gandan Khiid
The smog of Ulaanbataar approaches

Asia » Mongolia » Suhbaator March 14th 2019

R: Once onboard we got a good nights sleep. We were in a very similar cabin to the one before, with the same configuration of beds and once again no compartment buddies. This train is a daily shuttle service across the border and into Mongolia. As such, the train is more of a locals train than the first long distance one and it stops more often. That being said they have grouped the foreigners into one place. Our new Provodnitzas did not allow the foreigners off the train at these stops as they clearly weren't for us and they didn't want to lose track of us - the train only stopped for a minute or two at each station. In fact there were no good stops today. The scenery is now totally different to the vast ... read more
Naushki Station
Heading for the border
Mongolian Border

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk March 10th 2019

R: To recap; we were in Irkutsk for a single day. It was raining. We were on a tram into the centre of town. It was pretty drab. Most of the roads appeared partially destroyed, and if not, flooded. Richard and I looked at each other, both wanting to maintain a positivity while each wondering what we would do to spend the day here. We made a bee-line for the bus terminal where Marshrutkas collect. We had decided we wanted to see Lake Baikal - the largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world, and is the rift lake where Russia will one day divide. We got to the bus station about 5 minutes before the departure of the next Marshrutka and we quickly found tickets then made it out to the mass of similar looking ... read more
Time for Blinis
Omul Kebab
Irkutsk Wanderings

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Krasnoyarsk March 9th 2019

R: So by now it was Tuesday and we had one more day across Siberia before our first stop in Irkutsk. We had a lie in in the morning, mainly because the cabin was now so hot that it was difficult to move! The scenery had changed by now and there were more scattered villages, small holdings and animals roaming around. It certainly felt more rural. Between us, we had tonnes of information about the route. Richard had brought the Trans-Siberian Handbook, which has incredibly detailed information about the things you would pass. There are little white markers along the track that show your distance from Moscow which help you work out what you are passing. (We were now 4098 km from Moscow). This was quite entertaining, especially when there was nothing else to look at, ... read more
Siberian countryside
Buffet Car feast
Carpets of Orange wild flowers

Europe » Russia » Urals » Yekaterinburg March 9th 2019

R: We awoke to hammering on our compartment door. To prevent anyone getting in at night, the door has a lock on the inside which can't be opened by anyone, even the train staff. I must have been sleeping deeper than I thought as this shook me awake. Not sure what on earth was happening, I sat up, Richard hadn't yet come around. Despite being on the top bunk I managed to get to the door and open it a crack to find the night Provodnitza (who did not speak German) getting a little bit irate and saying a lot of things in Russian which I didn't quite understand. She pushed the door wide open and then I realised the problem - our new bunkmate had arrived, at 2am, from a stop at Yekaterinburg as we ... read more
Just after the Urals - Siberia!
Omsk
Barabinsk Fish Sellers

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow March 4th 2019

R: So armed with reduced baggage (Cate and Clare took our spare clothes etc) and armed with enough Russian supermarket purchases to last a month, we took the metro to Varoslavski Station. Our train was at 23:55 which allowed me only one occasion to think I had lost my passport. Our tickets had been delivered to our hotel so we were ready to go. When the time came to board the train, we headed down to the platform. We were in carriage 1, which was right up the other end of the train. For some reason we rushed, though we knew we had booked spaces. The Provodnitza (carriage attendant) took our tickets and passports and showed us to our cabin. It is a 4 bed room, two bunk beds on either side. You get a box ... read more
The engine (for part 1)
Our compartment on departure
A dull station stop




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