Trans-Siberian railroad 2004

On our trip through Balkans with Nagla and Miki in 2000, we said our next destination should be Moscow or with Trans-Siberian to go from Moscow to Bejing would be better. We forgot about it for a few years. But somehow it came to life. We bought flight tickets from Vienna to Moscow, got our Russian and Chinese visa, and we were set for our journey.

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Sašo and Igor brought us to Vienna airport (400 km). We had maybe a few whiskeys to much and almost missed the flight … With Aeroflot, we landed at Sheremetyevo airport (1700 km). After the migration procedure, we went to the exchange office. Lady there gave us more money than expected. We took the bus to the city and later the metro (beautiful stations) to the Yaroslavskaya train station. There we managed to buy 2 tickets to Irkutsk (4500 km). At the train station in Ljubljana, they didn’t want to sell us tickets, because they were half cheaper in Russia. While we had some time to spend we went to Red Square, visited St. Basil’s Cathedral, had a beer at GUM. At Lenin’s mausoleum and Kreml, there was a big crowd so we decided to skip it. Soon it was time to go back to Yaroslavskaya station and to board the train.

transsiberian bed
Trans-Siberian compartment

We got coupe with 4 beds but it was just two of us there. We got also some bed linen. This was our home for the next 5 days. We used upper beds for storage. By the window, there was a small table. Each wagon had a toilet on one side and a manager lady. You could get hot water from her for soup, tea, or noodles if you take it with you. But more important was, she was selling cans of beer Baltika. Needless to say, she ran out of it and had to restock. We brought some food with us that didn’t last for the whole trip. So on stations where we stayed long one would run out to buy something. There was also a food wagon but we never get to it. So besides drinking beer and looking out of the window, there was not much to do.

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The landscape was quite dull, mostly flatland with grass or some woods. From time to time there would be some gray city.

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Trans-Siberian, grey city

One cemetery was the most colorful thing we saw. We had crosswords and wrote answers in the Cyrillic alphabet. Meeting people was also interesting. Vova was a soldier going home.

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Paperboy was mute and he told us Greece won the European football championship but we didn’t believe him. The German guy was going to Baikal lake while his parents were captured during WW2 and he was born there. But most important was Morel, a guy from Israel we continued to travel together for a few days. We connected with him quickly. He even gave us a can of fish. But when we opened it the stench was so horrible we trow it out of the window.

On arrival to Irkutsk, we joined with Morel and took a cab to the hotel. The driver took us to the most expensive one and charge us too much. At the reception, we saw the price that was 50 $ per person per night. To rich for our blood. So we left there our bags and went out to search for a more affordable solution. We found one touristic agency were English was almost spoken. We asked for a hotel in the price range around 15 $. They wrote as on paper Aeroport hotel in Cyrillic. We went back for bags and took a taxi.

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The driver needed some time to find ‘hotel’. The reception was behind the bars, plaster in the room was peeling off.

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To flush the toilet in a shared bathroom you pulled a radio cord. But at least the price was OK, 12 $ for all three. Some people lived there, washing things in the bathroom. Others were renting a room on an hourly basis. In the whole hotel, there was just one shower, with cold water, not clean and you had to pay some change to get a key. But after almost a week without a shower in the summertime, we didn’t hesitate. We ate in a Chinese restaurant. All freshened we went out to closest kiosk/bar for a beer until they escorted us to our room one by one.

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The next day we went around town and to get a visa for Mongolia. It was interesting, how we were treated differently. For Israel citizens, no visa is needed. For Slovenia, it was 25 $, but while we needed express visa it was double the price, 50 $. The German couple had a twice higher price. A guy from the USA had to come again the next day, Israel citizens don’t need a visa.

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We had a drink with a German couple that arrived from Europe with their mobile home and they planned to stay on the lake over the winter. He planned to piss and ice to hit the ground. Also, some ideas on how to achieve it. We ate some bad pizza.

In the evening we went to an amusement park. Morel shot 10 balloons and won a teddy bear. We tried a ride of a strange carousel with no protection. In the open-air discotheque, we met 2 Russian girls. Later we went to their home. A lot of vodka was drunk.

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The next morning Morel went his way and left us some breakfast. When we manged to pack we moved to Listvyanka with the bus. After visiting Baikal lake, we searched for accommodation.

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We shared a room with a Spanish couple. The shower was in a steam room with a bucket of water. Nagla didn’t sleep well. We forgot some photo film there (Moscow photos).

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It was time to go to Mongolia. After bus to Irkutsk, it was time again for a train that took almost 1 day. Most of the time was lost at the border, 4 hours at least. Checking passport, soldiers checking bags, waiting outside. Bought some local currency with a bad exchange rate just to have for a start.

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In Ulan Baatar, we arrived early in the morning. At the station, we found our future landlord Gana.

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With him, we moved to suburbs where we got 2 beds in his house.

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Gana was sleeping outside in the tent with his family.

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We ate beef soup on our way there. We bought a trip to turtle valley.

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Also, we walked around the city. The main attraction would be Sukhbaatar square.

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We visited the National history museum. We met there a group of 15 Slovenians.

The next morning we went there with a car that had a wheel on the right side. Some parts of the road were that bad we drove beside the road itself.

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On the way we stopped at the turtle rock formation. We stayed with a family that had few tents (ger/yurt).

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We were in one of them during the day. We got some mare milk, I took sip and Nagla drunk whole bowl of it. On our walk, he runs for the toilet. During the night we slept in our small tent, my feet were outside. They were washed by rain. In the morning we were woken by cows chewing grass feet from our heads.

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The next day we rode horses for an hour or two. Those horses were small and I’m quite tall and heavy, so I got the biggest. But it had a wound on his neck.

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So after half an hour of slow movement some insects bit him on the wound and he started galloping. It took some 30 seconds for a guide to catch with us and stop the horse.

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That left scary memory of my first ride on a horse. On return, we had trouble communicating so we draw a clock to say when we want to eat and such.

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On return to Ulan Bataar it was the start of national holiday Nadaam, so we decided to stay longer in Mongolia.

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We went to the stadium to watch the celebration, it looked disorganized, even funny a bit. They lost some balloons. Some kids living on the streets stole a backpack from girls sitting next to us.

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Nagla met one local girl and went to the movies with here. Also, Morel was there so we met again. One nice group formed, joined with Nicolas and Sylvia from France/Belgium and Ron (a guy that visited almost all countries in the World) from the USA. We had dinner together and party after.

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One day we went to the horse race outside the city in van where they cramped 14 people. There would horse run in a plain field, without any visible course.

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On arrival all would run to a horse and wipe his victorious sweet? We ate at the Greek restaurant, they had nice tzatziki there.

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We were staying again at Gana’s place. He invited just two of us to his tent out of 10 people living in his house. We sat there drinking vodka and eating something greasy? In the meantime, a french guy came to tell his sick. Gana gave him vodka and sent him away.

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After 3 repetitions Gana realized it was serious and took him to hospital. While riding horses in Mongolian wild that guy got sunstroke, but soon he was OK. Otherwise, it was very popular among tourists we meet to buy a horse for 100 $ ride it for 1 month and then sell it for 50 $.


After we spent to much time in Mongolia we had the option to go by train to Beijing and get on the plane directly. Or to fly there and spend two days in Beijing. So we decided to fly this part of the trip. The difference in price with the train was not that big. We bought the ticket at the Korean air.

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We moved by taxi to the airport. The small airport was a nice place to wait. We spent some money buying souvenirs there. Vodka Nagla bought broke in a backpack. The Flight was nice. We could see the Gobi desert from the windows.

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On arrival we shared shuttle to the city. We went to a hostel with AC and a hot shower. While showering I saw cockroach but didn’t care and stayed there half an hour. At hostel one rikshaw guy was happy that one tourist drove him around and was doing some trick until he fell. We ate in the street.

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Nadvoz na pekin¨kim ringom – Nagla

The next day we went to Tiananmen Square and all the buildings around, parliament, mausoleum, and of course Forbidden city.

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TianMen trg, jaz, Prepovedano mesto v ozadju

It had big ceremonial buildings but also a lot of vast space.

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Strehe stranskih objektov

There were a lot of tourists but mainly domestic and they wanted to take a photo with me while I was probably tallest far around.

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Druga sobana 2.

The common scam was a couple of kids would approach and practice English with you. Then they invite you to shop of their master’s. In one I bought the painting on silk for my sister, and in another Nagla bought caligraphy Idiot. We ate in KFC (located on each corner). It looked like for them it is a kind of fancy outing.

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The next day we went to Badaling to see the Great Wall. it is impressive to see where they built it and how long it was. And in the end, it didn’t help.

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Later we went to some market to buy some souvenirs. Our way of negotiating the price was a pocket calculator. We would write a price on it until we agreed. Also to have instructions for a taxi we would go to the first hotel and ask at the reception to write the location we want to go to.

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We took rickshaw to the Donghuamen night market

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We ate there some strange things

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I think we ate there grasshopper, scorpion, snake, star fish and squirrel? Some people were vomiting there.

It was time to go back. So at the airport, we spent all Yuans (glass panda) but we needed extra many for exit tax, so we had to change money again.

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We ate there typical Chinese. First, we landed in Moscow and a few hours later we went to Vienna. There Nagla’s father picked us up and drove to Ljubljana.

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