On the 29th of August we left Irkutsk by train for the capital of Mongolia: Ulaan Baatar. We were quite excited about it, because going to Mongolia had been a thing we had been dreaming about for many years.
This time we travelled second class as there is no third class available on this track. Basically there are some separated compartments with 4 beds each, and filled up with mainly foreigners (we don’t think there were any Russians in our wagon). We were lucky though: we had the 4-bed compartment to ourselves.
After a night and half a day of still crossing Russian territory, we got to the Russian border town, where the train stopped for 6 (!) hours. We don’t know really why, but it was a long wait, because there is absolutely nothing to do in this (mainly military) town. Then, after 4 hours of hanging around, we were all called into the train where we had to fill out some papers and got ordered: “Passports!” They would have an “offical look” at them before putting a stamp that gave us the right to leave Russia. Then we got a second order: “Please get out!” and as we stepped out of our compartment some “gorilla” would go in and check our compartment in a military style rumbling in our sheets and taking off even some roof-plates in order to check there. Apparently everything was ok, because after this they left without a word.
This whole process of passport-stamping and gorilla-search took about 2 hours in which we had to stay in the train, because basically we had our stamp to get out of the country and so we couldn’t stand on Russian soil anymore (no, not even in front of the train on the platform).
Then the train started moving again, quite slowly because some military guys were walking behind the train in order to verify if nobody would jump off (???). This would go on until we reached the border about 20 minutes later, which was marked by some kind of statue. Then we had a 10 minutes drive in Mongolia until we stopped again in their bordertown where the whole process would start again: filling out numerous papers and different stamps into our passport. There were some differences though. First of all the lady coming to check our passports said: “Hello! Welcome to Mongolia!” Wow! She speaks English??? First change to Russia. And then, she is friendly and not barking around??? Wow! Second change to Russia!
After 3 ours the train would go on for one more night until we arrived at Ulaan Baatar at 7 in the morning of the 31st.
Hello Mongolia, here we are!
Vera & Jean-Christophe