The big day has finally arrived., a bucket list for Lyn and the reward for three weeks of intense planning to depart our hotel at the crack of dawn to head to the subway to board our train. It cannot go without mention that already our small back packs are insufficient as on day one of carrying mine an old shoulder and neck injury didn’t like the weight so I was forced to purchase a small wheelie case. Now with our extra case and two back packs which by the way is still full, I’m not sure what has happened but in only two days we have accumulated a full case of stuff. All those toothbrushes, combs, shampoos, noodles, bottles of water and yes cans of beer and snacks for the train are literally dragging us down.
This station is hugemongous and again Lyn navigates us with 100% accuracy and confidence. I know Lyn you should become a holiday planner. The ride down the long escalator and we are presented with our train in all its glory, it’s so exciting I get a tiny tear. Like little kids we open and shut all the small compartments of our cabin, first class of course, make ourselves at home.
The old fashioned decor is smart burgundy with white lace linen covers that give it a regal look, timber look panelling and a basic bathroom with a communal toilet at the end of the car.
A slight misprint or out of date information leads us to believe there is no dining car on the first leg of the trip and that snacks and convenience foods are required, so much so that it tells us where we can purchase such items. A pleasant realisation that we do have a dining car with two meals provided.
Lunch of some tasty dishes and an opportunity to have some more room temperature beer, no refrigerated drinks, drinking at room or body temperature is the norm, even warm or hot water is preferred over cold.
We get chatting with some of the other English speaking passengers and spend the next couple of hours exchanging life and travel stories with Erika and Sebastian from Canada.
Back to our cabin for some more cards, reading, ipadding and enjoying the view. I’m feeling a little disorganised so decide to unpack and repack all our gear. The snow boots, coats, beanies and gloves all needed for the big freeze, apparently where we are staying overnight with the nomadic family in a felt house (ger) has dropped to minus 20 degrees. Fingers crossed our gear stands up to it, we might be purchasing a yak poncho or two.
We head back to the dining car to enjoy our dinner accompanied by some of China’s Great Wall red wine, it’s actually surprisingly delicious.
All tucked in to our warm cabins with a few games of cards. All good travellers carry a deck, we play two handed 500, the Canadians play Italian Risk and the English boys play Shit Head.
We communicate with the conductor and staff with the translator ap on our phones and are advised that at 9.00 pm we will be stopping just before the Mongolian border to change the bogies on the train as the tracks are different and will not be able to use the toilet for five hours. A slight old lady panic sets in with repetitive pissing syndrome for the next hour.
I manage to climb to the top bunk with Lyn ready to catch me, really??? The train comes to a stop and this is it, no more pissing, just don’t panic. The train is shoved, jerked and thumped for the next few hours, it goes quiet for a while then it starts up again scaring the living nightlights out of us. Just dozing in and out of slumber we are told to get up and have our passports ready for the Chinese border check.
At this point Lyn opens her lunch box in the teeny tiny cabin trapping all the putrid air as the uniformed officials near. That’s enough to scare them off and not want to search our cabin for contraband or stowaways.
Again we are woken from a slumber for the Mongolian border check, two old ladies one wearing eye masks and the other with pillow hair must be a sight for sore eyes, it goes without incident.
We rock and roll ourselves to sleep.