Trans-Mongolian; it’s right down my street.

by Ant Stone on July 8, 2007

in Mongolia,Russia,Trans-Mongolian Railway

Dumdum-De-DUM, dumdum-De-DUM, dumdum-De-DUM. It took me the whole 5 days from Moscow to Ulaanbaatar, to decide how I would portray the drum of the Trans-Mongolian train I alighted this morning. Say it with me, dumdum-De-DUM, softer, dumdum-De-DUM, emphasise the capitals dumdum, De-DUM, one-two, three-four, dumdum-De-DUM. Never has a journey left me so relaxed. To my right are a set of antelope horns, the hostel foyet is filled with lounge music and all I want to do is hug the keyboard, close my eyes and drift off to dreams of faraway places. Dumdum-De-DUM.

It would be nigh on impossible to capture the rolling landscapes, the trivial pleasures and the romantic motion of my Siberian journey in words, even pictures would fail to bring the episode to life. At 7:30am this morning I hauled my backpack off carriage 6 and said goodbye to a smörgåsbord of new friends. In the 5 day spell aboard the Trans-Mongolian route, the train and it’s cattle underwent a mystical transformation. The sturdy carriages gradually lost the raw intrigue and a network formed, that I can only liken to one of a small village. My immediate neighbours consisted of 2 Swedish and 2 Dutch to one side and 4 Italians to the other while my housemates took the form of Austrians, Tony & Eveline and Erdenebaatar of Mongolia (seemingly the only Mongol in the village). Life it seemed, couldn’t be better.

At the top of the street lived Lancastrians, Gavin and Les and together with our extended community we rolled through 29 stations, exchanging jokes and learning about our different quirks, cultures and goals. The social highlights of the day were pulling up at a station and alighting to stretch our legs, maybe meeting a new neighbour and watching with admiration as the network filtered out and undertook their desired task. Along the daytime stations, there were usually 10 or so local ladies selling their produce; dried fish, beer, bread, fruit, ramin noodles etc, which meant there was always a feast to be had with my housemates when we returned to our home in the period after.

It’s hard to fathom where time went, for one I still shun the opportunity to join the watch-wearing masses. Days were candidly filled with long breakfasts, followed by a stroll down to the local cafe, where Victor would afford us a scowl and a few slams upon the table should we dare request a top up. We new he laughed inside. Following the morning coffee, I took pleasure in hanging out by an open window, just watching the world roll consistently by. Dumdum-De-DUM.

There was a phenomenon occurring upon Train 4, time outside was quite obviously changing but time within it’s steel frame, curiously remained the same. I slept when I was tired, ate when I was hungry and drank whenever I felt like it. A little too often, perhaps, as I nursed my pounding head under the sheet seemingly missing the “best station along route”, according to Eveline. One day I popped down the street to Gav’s place, purely to discuss topics of choice over a game or two of chess. Another day I chose to stay in my home for a few hours, making sign language with Erdenebaatar and Tony over a bottle of exceedingly strong vodka, while enjoying some Mongolian pop music on his laptop. Overtime Tony, Eveline and I became accustomed with the national sport of the Trans-Siberian, ‘hunting’. To those outside of the Trans-Mongolian world, this was simply taking photos, but with Tony’s colourful spin on the English language bringing a whole new slant to it. As with all good neighbours, I saved farts for the first-class carriage and always opened our, freshly smelling home to passing strangers.

Along the route I battled with three dilemmas. The first being the feeling of “oh go on, you’re on holiday” while I removed the 5th Marlborough Light of the day from it’s cardboard casket. I’m not sure I can compare a 2 year jaunt to a holiday, on the subject of vices at least. The second dilemma being the urge to take photos at every opportunity. I always fall into this trap, and I’m glad I nipped this one in the bud early. I find much more pleasure in selfishly keeping moments to myself, while only capturing a premium selection of what a scenario had to offer. The third dilemma was my realisation of failing to register my Russian visa in Moscow, this is an old Communist hang up, but a rule all the same. Aboard the train, there was nothing I could do but bury the dilemma to the back of my head and await my fate at the border town, Sukhbaatar. Ironically my meal at Sukhbaatar was the quintessential last supper; one of dried fish, bread and water. We made jokes to lighten the mood, and it was with a hearty sigh of relief that I took back my passport from the overtly stern official. Mongolia, here I come.

Arriving in Ulaanbaatar today, I reminisced over the reasons for my coming here. Initially it had been purely a wind up to a former girlfriend, Laura. I knew she’d never consider Mongolia in our feeble attempts to plan a duel RTW trip, but as I stubbornly argued it’s case against the backpacking heavyweights of Australia and Thailand I became intrigued. Sitting here now, paints a Gobi Glow upon my face that even Genghis Kahn would struggle to eradicate.

This week is the Naadam Festival, my primary goal along The Trail while all other time will be spent absorbing the Mongolian culture while looking forward, and planning my next destination, China. But before then, I’ll grab a coffee, light up a Marlborough and reflect upon my first week along The Trail while humming it’s inevitable theme tune; “dumdum-De-DUM, dumdum-De-DUM, dumdum-De-DUM”.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Mum & Dad July 8, 2007 at 9:06 pm

Hi Tweedle Dumdum-De-Dum. Pleased to hear you have arrived in Mongolia OK. The train journey sounds as though it has really helped you get into the right travel mood. We are jealous already as we are experiencing nothing but rain, rain rain here and its cold as well. Take care xx

simon p July 9, 2007 at 4:36 pm

So where are you now then monsieur?

Ant July 10, 2007 at 4:53 am

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia… I update the map in the top right of the site each time I arrive somewhere new 😉

Lesley July 10, 2007 at 8:21 am

Hi there Ant, I’m still following the trail. Wish I was twenty again I would have gone with you. Keep safe. See you for Xmas in two years.

golden goose sneakers August 31, 2018 at 6:31 pm

I want to show some appreciation to you just for rescuing me from such a challenge. Right after looking out throughout the world-wide-web and seeing techniques which are not powerful, I thought my life was well over. Being alive without the solutions to the issues you have resolved through your main short post is a serious case, as well as ones which might have adversely damaged my entire career if I had not noticed your blog. Your own skills and kindness in playing with almost everything was precious. I’m not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t come across such a solution like this. I can at this moment look forward to my future. Thanks a lot so much for this specialized and result oriented guide. I will not hesitate to suggest the blog to any individual who would like care about this subject matter.

michael kors handbags September 2, 2018 at 4:48 pm

I am only writing to let you be aware of of the superb experience my wife’s girl undergone reading through your site. She came to find a good number of things, which included what it’s like to have an awesome helping heart to get most people without difficulty learn about various specialized matters. You undoubtedly did more than our expected results. Many thanks for showing such effective, dependable, informative and as well as easy tips about your topic to Mary.

Kanye West shoes September 3, 2018 at 6:20 pm

I am also writing to let you understand what a amazing encounter my cousin’s daughter went through studying your site. She realized plenty of things, which include how it is like to have an incredible giving heart to get others just comprehend several complicated subject matter. You undoubtedly exceeded people’s desires. Thank you for offering such precious, dependable, informative and even fun tips about this topic to Emily.

timberland boots September 5, 2018 at 7:14 pm

I and also my friends have already been analyzing the nice tips and tricks located on your web page and then unexpectedly developed a terrible feeling I had not expressed respect to the site owner for those techniques. All of the women happened to be certainly excited to study all of them and already have actually been enjoying those things. Thank you for truly being quite kind and for going for these kinds of smart subject areas most people are really eager to discover. My very own honest regret for not saying thanks to sooner.

nfl jerseys September 6, 2018 at 8:40 am

Thanks for your whole hard work on this blog. Ellie loves carrying out investigations and it is easy to understand why. Most of us notice all concerning the powerful means you convey priceless solutions by means of this web blog and therefore strongly encourage participation from some other people about this matter plus our favorite daughter is truly learning so much. Take pleasure in the rest of the year. Your carrying out a very good job.

pandora charms September 12, 2018 at 11:32 pm

I together with my buddies were found to be digesting the great information and facts located on the blog and quickly I got a horrible suspicion I never thanked you for those strategies. The men were definitely joyful to learn them and have definitely been having fun with these things. Many thanks for simply being well helpful and for deciding on this sort of outstanding topics most people are really eager to discover. My honest apologies for not expressing appreciation to earlier.

adidas ultra boost 3.0 September 16, 2018 at 4:18 pm

I simply desired to appreciate you again. I do not know what I could possibly have used in the absence of the thoughts revealed by you directly on this subject. It truly was a terrifying issue in my position, but being able to see the expert fashion you processed that made me to cry for delight. I’m just thankful for this work and have high hopes you are aware of a great job that you are putting in educating other individuals using your blog. Most probably you’ve never come across any of us.

Previous post:

Next post: