March 27, 2011

The hairy foreigner

“Can we take your picture please?” She is about seventeen and accompanied by three generations of her family.  Standing in the queue for the cable car at the Great Wall they have been giving me sideways looks and giggling for […]
March 25, 2011

Thanks, but I had bugs for lunch

I am a little stunned to arrive in Beijing; it is quite the largest city I have been in since I left home.  I am not sure what I was expecting but my initial reaction is that it seems like […]
March 25, 2011

The good, the bad and the ugly

My eighth and final train takes me from Ulan Bator to Beijing.  It is by far the most modern and well equipped train I have been on so far – my cabin has a small armchair and an en-suite bathroom; […]
March 24, 2011

The horse master

My last day in the camp and we are invited to visit the nomadic home of Bachka who lives nearby (at least he does at the moment).  Bachka is the local horse master, I have seen him in action taking […]
March 23, 2011

Among the Golden Horde – Part 2

22nd March There are not many guests in the camp; apart from our guides there is Kevin, a fuel technician who lives in Alaska and works in Antarctica and Mel, Leah and Carol from Canada.  It feels like a snow […]
March 23, 2011

Among the Golden Horde – Part 1

21st March In preparation for arrival at Ulan Bator I get up at 5.00am and do the Indiana Jones thing over the open tracks to get to the washroom in the next carriage.  I am unprepared for the sheer intensity […]
March 20, 2011

Princess Anne vs Ghengis Khan

The Trans-Manchurian line runs from Irkutsk to Ulan Bator and on to Beijing for the next leg of the journey.  The rolling stock is considerably older and maintains a certain old-world charm such as a coal furnace on every carriage […]
March 19, 2011

Nikky Nakky Noo!

I spend the day  in Irkutsk before catching the train that takes me to Ulan Ude and then over the Mongolian border to Ulaan Baatur.  Irkutsk is a mixture of styles – originally a fur trading post, then a gold […]
March 18, 2011

A lesson in leadership

The dog sledging centre is based in the valley high above Listvyanka in the heart of the pine forest. The centre is run by Natasha and has around 30 dogs; large husky type things with blue eyes and foot-long tongues […]
March 17, 2011

Breaking the ice

I disembark from the train at 6:15am at Irkutsk.  In the last 24 hours the cabin next to mine has been occupied by two police officers (the police seem to use the railways extensively) – they spend their time watching […]
March 16, 2011

Camping for boys

Today is my last full day on board the #2 Moscow-Vladivostok train and there is a touch of cabin fever in the air.  The carriage is comfortable and warm and, because it is low season, not particularly overcrowded.  However, there […]
March 15, 2011

Fascinating facts file –Vol 1

Sometime during the night we passed over the Ural mountains and through Ekaterinberg (famous for being the birthplace of Boris Yeltsin and where the Tsar and his family were murdered in a basement); we have therefore now, formally passed into […]