Europe, Asia · 87 Days · 61 Moments · March 2018

The Trans Mongolia Siberian Railway

30 May 2018

One for Mr Boyle, close. ish to Welsh Ty-bach?!.

29 May 2018

Day 34...Went out later this evening for my last sip of wine of St P. So to speak...started with a drama, as building on fire not to far away., fire appliances arrived as I was passing, lost of H & S NOT happening, on...pedestrians and firemen all tangled together, laters went up, struggling to get water into hoses.... left them to it...and the bride still wandering having her phots taken..!!! The evening sun and a walk along the river Neve was just the right thing to do...the evening sun amazing and lighting up the buildings, The Winter Palace was quite something. But the sunset most spectacular over the water towards the Cathedral..... OMG....This Adventure has been full of them 💁🙋🙋..
Day 34/Tuesday 29th May. Last day today. walked my little gluteus maximus off ..11miles. Choose to go to the fortress, across the river. Another cathedral, quite important as it contains the tombs of the Romanov Family with Peter the Great, Catherine the great etc. Tzar Nicholas & the Royal family who were murdered in 1917. Interned here in 1998 after the discover of their remains in Yekaterinburg. Other places to see here, the prison, etc but not a place for me. Did light the last candle for everyone, all past sins forgiven together with futures one also absolved.. Dint expect to find sunbathers under the walls of the fort.. Made way to Pushkin Museum, closed !!! Shattered anyway, so as not far from hotel, popped back for a refresh from the heat....cont

28 May 2018

Day32... and those biker boys still around... almost got astride the second one... xxx
Day 33/Monday 28th. On to the concert ..Several things on offer, (Tosca, unknown ballet etc) but opted for this Youth Concert. Absolutely Fabulous. A few empty seats These folk don’t know what they missed. 300 plus of young people performing at their best. Opening section 125 + young people on stage. Lots of music recognisable, Nutcracker Suit, Strauss, Mozart, some not know but lively. 3 hours of enjoyment, 9 conductors. Each conductor conducted a small section. The second half was the older musicians, playing longer pieces, whilst the first half was both younger and older musicians, 30/ 40 musicians would be exiting to the sides and anther 30/40/50 would be entering the stage from the rear. Understood they were several of St Petersburg Music schools which came together for this celebratory performance. Fabulous night.💁🎶🙋🎶💁
Day 33/Mon 28th.. Dora the explorer wanders on, stoped of at St Isaac’s Cathedral. One of THE places to visit. Less of a place of worship, more of a museum. lit a candle for us all anyway in the small area reserved for these things. Bride having photos taken on steps as came out... now would you want a load of tourists around you??? Making way to The Russian Museum & passed The Church of the sacred blood. Another MUST see place, alway been hordes of people and coaches so previously given a miss, but a little quieter today so popped in. A wee bit differed from the gold and gilt, at the back of this church is where Tzar Nicholas grandfather was murdered, think they built on to the church to commemorate the spot. (Don’t quote me!!) On into The Russian Museum. All works of art , (much more genteel atmosphere from The Hermitage) gave myself two hour here the a quick nip back to the hotel and get ready for the concert. ...... 🎶 🎶 🎵
Day 33/Mon 28th.. Booked concert tonight for Youth Orchestral, that part of 315 yrs celebrations. Opted to go and find the place... so not having a Russian panic later in the evening as establish it’s not the theatre close by... dam!!!! On way to finding theatre, stopped at Cathedral of Tzar Nicholas 2nd, lit a candle for family and friends. Sad that coaches of tourists have no respect for where they are, there was a service happening and .. well words fail me. At this point I asked directions from a guy parked at the cathedral in a large at looking BMW, looked like a chauffeur, he said he spoke a little English and would try to help.. bless him spot on.. BUT I discovered there were 3 Minsky theatres.. The Minsky Theatre / Minsky 2 / The Minsky Concert Hall.....ahhhhh I needed to be at the Concert Hall..ecstatic that I knew where I needed to be... set off for another day of Dora The Explorer.....spotted another Fire Station. And yes football ⚽️ on its way.....

27 May 2018

Dat 32 continues. The museum is the worlds first, started & built up by Catherine The Great. (Peter the Greats wife who took succeeded him..) back to hotel .. for 5mins, and then out ??? Nooooo shattered. fell asleep... There was a. “Tour De St. Petersburg” that morning as part of the 315 Celebrations (odd number 315,, ). Street music on way back to hotel. Football ⚽️ stuff is staring to appear. I am totally convince that the painting done on top of the cherry picker is all part of the sprucing up in preparation for World Cup. (4 matches here) Val disagrees , she thinks it’s all part of a normal spring clean...but Mr Putin is a local boy here & word has it he has pumped millions into the city....🙆‍♀️🙋🤦‍♀️xx
DY 32 Sunday May 26th. To is big celebrations day 315 years to the day since the birth of St Petersburg. Opted to the largest museum in the world ( The Louvre may be a tage bigger..) The Hermitage Museum which is housed in The Winter Palace and around the place square ... incredible from the out side and amazing on the inside.. spoilt only by hordes of other people also wanting to be there. (£60 for private guide for two hours) I was In this place for six and half hours.. & walked 5+miles, loved every minute .but my brain was fried..!! Some rooms very crowded with tours guides... found some quiet corners..Koreans / Chinese photographed everything!!! Literally !!! ....

26 May 2018

Day31/ Sat 26th May.. continued... that’s not to dismiss anything we have here in the UK 🇬🇧 but in another country, another place, the romance of it all ... getting carried away now... must stop myself...Enamelled porcelain, buttons, belt buckles, snuff boxes, cigarette cases by the hundreds, amazing amount of items....all Faberge.... If I could choose one thing to bring home from the Faberge Museum it would be the enamelled writing set. ( piccy 8). I was quite taken with it....but left it there for others to enjoy, not sure I could sneak it through customs anyway ,,,, AND THEN... The biker boys hit town, and from choirs and orchestras in Red Square the day ended at a rock concert tucked in a corner of this great city...the Biker Babe in me snook out for an hour or two ....!!!! Walked 11 miles today 🙋💁🙆‍♀️🤦‍♀️x
Day 31/Sat 26th May.. day of orientation and culture.. set off to explore. Made way to The Hermitage also know as The Winter Palace. Economic Festival happening so first views less spectacular, but Woweeee still dam impressive. Guys and gals dressed up in period costume all over the place wanting you to have their phot taken with them... at a price of course. Circle of canals through the city. church of Sacred Blood another must, but arrived at a really busy time so saving that for later. Lots of tourist stall, but not aggressive, Val hugely disappointed as she was here 10 yers ago and saw St. P with very few tourists, too noisy & busy now for her. Amazing visit to the Faberge Museum, not vast , but the history of those eggs, although only 8 of original Eggs presented to the Tzar etc , (The Armoury in Moscow has 9) these are the largest collections is the world. The enamelling of other items that they are responsible is fantastic.and the silver wear...could go on for ever...cont ...

25 May 2018

Day 30/Fri 25th Leave Moscow today for St Petersburg. Couple of hours to spare before the 🚊 . Time enough for little walk up to Red Sq and savour atmosphere all over again, cannot get enough of just wandering around. Not sure what I could of been in former life to provoke such desires. Retraced step across Square to the new park, stood on the half bridge again to look across the skyline of the city. (Two arms jut out over the river) Park slabbed very well, follows contours, seat and bins in shape of the bricks/slabs, there is a word for this but cannot recall right now..!!! Seats of park having a spruce up, totally convince it’s because of the football... lots of females doing this work. Back to hotel, stepping up the pace as wandered a bit to slowly!!! . Stage from yesterday almost dismantled. More planting in small fountain park. Glance back to those famous turrets. On to Metro & the Railway station & high speed train to St.P. 445 mlles in 3.5 hours. Whooosh.. 🚊 🙋💁🙆‍♀️

24 May 2018

Day 29/Thu 24th May. Opted to have some time to ourselves to do our own thing today. Planned to do Kremlin today, but it’s a Saints/ Apostles day, most of things closed. Stayed in Red Square area, meandered in THE shopping place “Gum”, that fills one side of Red Square, built in 1894, you name it it was here, Gucci, Dior, Versace, etc etc. Shopping for the wealthy..!! Had an ice cream🍦 Things hotting up in the square as ready for another concert.. lots of priest guys part of the crowd. Stood for two hours watching an amazing concert, orchestra, choirs, singers, linked to other choirs via satalight (Moscow equivalent to Proms in the Park) all in celebration of this day. Seating stand full off Bishop types (really not up on what religion) Fabulous time. Shattered, back to hotel. Walked to Red Square this evening to see Square by night. Did not disappoint... fabulous memory of last time in Red Square. Next stop in the morning fast train (Sapsan) to St Petersburg 🙋💁🙋🙆‍♀️

23 May 2018

Day 28/Wed 23rd May Across Red Square concert of choirs from the stage that still there, fabulous music. Could have stayed there but back to hotel as off to concert, tickets gift of birthday girl Iraina friend of Val’s from yesterday with her family. 1st piccy is of underground station.. it bit different to Piccadilly... Took place in the Roman Catholic Polish Cathedral, went there by metro , amazing places , marble and lighting fixtures. Have to confess that a Organ & Cello recital is not quite my thing.. although very talented musicians and thanked the family very much. 🙋💁🤦‍♀️
Day 28/Wed 23rd May Back into the sunlight..along tombs of other hero’s of Russia.... Next stop St Basils Cathedral the building with the famous colourful domes. Commissioned by Ivan The Terrible in 1561. Named after local hermit, Basil The Simpleton !!! (so Guide Book says - must be true) Labyrinth of small rooms, tiny chapels, spiral staircases. Now a cathedral museum. (£12 entry, was £3 last October.. commercial cashing in?!?! or what ). But these adventures & experiences have to be done ... Off to lunch, found a great place for lunch specialised in food from area close to Georgia/ Azebyjhan. Only seats were at the bar to the kitchen.. great fun watching it all happen. Wandered back through back streets, new park been constructed , fabulous place, meadows , seating, with a half bridge over the river, fabulous views and an ice cream 🍦. Across Red Square where concert of choirs from the stage that still there, fabulous music. Could have stayed there ...but off to something else...
Day 28/ Wed 23rd May. Walked 10 miles today. Weather forecast sunny. Started little overcast. Opted to do the Bolshoi Ballet Theatre Tour at 11am. Set off early to queue for the tickets. Two tours of 50 people each. One in Russian one in English. Missed out !!!! Number 51. Gutted !!! Bright side ☀️saved £20 !! Ladies painting outside of Bolshoi ready for Football World Cup next month⚽️?? Next stop Lenin Mausoleum & the man himself. Died of massive stroke age 53. Biggish quick moving queue. Through security. Decent into cool depths of red granite, eyes 👀 struggling to adjust to the steps after bright sunlight. Respectfully silent with some hushed whispers. Security guards blended in every dark corner. There he is, dressed in his black suit. Face / upper body spot lit. His body is the real thing, not a wax contrary to some rumours. Understand beneath/in the mausoleum are workshops/laboratories that are the worlds leaders of preserving & embalming. Gather his body “spruced up” every 18m

22 May 2018

Day 26/Tue 22nd May. Lazy day, wandered through shopping area. Thought might buy Russian Doll.. this is where you appreciate the work that goes into each set, yes some mass produced work, from 3 figures to 15+ less expensive, but some of the hand painted ones were amazing & not affordable to me, the one I fell in love with was the story of winter fairy tale, each doll depicting a different scene..over £1,000....did reduce it to £800...!!!! Found something similar, she reduced to £200...Would it have to be something less expensive for me..?? Nooo walked away. No doll..🤦‍♀️😥 Off to the resturaunt for birthday party of Val’s friend, Iraina. All spoke good English, very ordinary, mostly academic into research, translation, daughter worked for Nikon on the lens for microscopes, very friendly & welcoming. Thought we mad traveling from Beijing on the railway but wanted to know all about Mongolia. Laughed about Russian customs guys being stern but they like that with the Russians as well.

21 May 2018

Day 25/Mon21st... contin.. walked along the side of the river under the walls of The Kremlin towards another Church of the Scared Blood. Good views of the Kremlin from the bridge over the river. Then explored a small church, sweet piccyof an old coffin carrier in the garden. This little church still has the sign of the double eagle 🦅 sign of power or it may be the sign of the Tzar too In it’s walls Cannot remember what was told to me!!! Gather all churches went Into decline under communism, they used as storage, stables etc. Only in recent years have they been renovated to how they look now. Should I have known that??? Lots of work happening on doodying the city up for the football. New grass turf laid every where, newly planted trees, buildings being renovated shrouded in ‘posh’ tarpaulin (common in UK but unusual here) sandblasting.... But no evidence whatsoever ever that the Football World Cup will be here in a month.. nothing...
Day 25/ Sun 21st May. Arrive Moscow on overnight train. Body still thinks it’s on the train rocking, rolling & jigging when stood still, weirdest feeling. Scenery still the same, the silver birch now inleaf. Some of the key bridges over roads river have guards with dogs etc on either side of them. Told this was to protect the gas, oil, lines... ??? Navigated the underground, very grand. And OMG OGM.. my first view of Red Square... A stage in front of St Basils the famous building with the turrets spoilt any chance of photographs. Stage being dismantle, so hoping to get a better view in next couple of days.... The Kremlin, and all the surrounding buildings. Lenin’s Mausolean closed. But OMG , pinch me... steps back and around In amazement..... another little emotional overcome moment.....

19 May 2018

18 May 2018

Day 23 / Fri 18th May...Yekaterinburg .. couple of bits to add.. Cathedral of Tzar, commercial opportunity for paying for a dove of peace to be flown.....guessing they must come ‘home’ (are they white pigeon as apposed to doves!?!) Love locks on bridges the world 🌎 over... some hefty locks here. Sales area on local park, plants etc and log cabins... again hefty and sturdy..!!!! AND a hot tub on a tripod construction 🔨 that you light a fire 🔥 on it... And some sort of piston engine monument... is is from a train? pumping station? it’s a man thing...some one will explain it. Discrete Fire Station, would not know it was a Fire Station without the two tenders outside.. Old photograph of Yekaterinburg with Putins Place as it was and still is in bottom right. Back on train 🚂 tomorrow morning (19th) for 26 hours heading to Moscow ..2hrs behind GMT Dam .going to miss the wedding & the FA Cup final..know who’s is getting married, but not who are playing in the final.???
Day23/Fri 18th May. cont...Although 4rd largest city Yekaterinburg (built in 1672 on finding iron ore) offers little to tourists, The Tzar and museums. The Tzarine was granddaughter of Q. Victoria. There is another site related to the Tzar where the remains of the family were found in the wood about 30 miles away. Two days here is more than enough. Tourist signs in both Russian & English to parks & museums, but nothing in English inside museums. Lots of development with very smart apartment & office blocks going up. Cranes every where you look. As with other towns/cities Russians love their parks and fountains. Evening meal in great Uzbek restaurant, waiter spoke a little English. Although early In tourist season we no sight or sound of any other English speaking people until we met the two Australian couples from the train. Still a good place & visit. The grand green building now belongs to Putin & is his palace here when he visits twice a year (Belonged to a bankrupt merchant)
Day23/Fri 18th May. Full day exploring Yekaterinburg where Tzar Nicholas & his family were murdered in a Manor House here. Cathedral built on the sight of the manor House. Thought it was a magnificat place of white and gold against the sky as walked up to it, where situated on the side of the road among other buildings. No photo inside obviously. The church is closed but it is the crypt underneath that had an alter, nearest to the point of the where the murders took place. Quite a queue at the alter to kiss what looked like a holy book. Lots of information in side rooms, none of it in English. Unbelievably V.V.Very revered. Was filled with mostly ladies of all ages. Some chanting from prayer books. Our heads needed to be covered of course & some ladies in trousers put on skirts. Skirts and scarves being available & you were directed to them by keepers of the cathedral. Lit a candle for the tzar as promised, one for mummise & as the lady gave me an extra one, for family and friends xx
Day 20 /Tue 15th May. Last minute walk around Irkutsk, say good by to Lenin, & Val fed the pigeons with the last of the bread from breakfast,v. tame birds. Off to station & wait for train 🚂 001. The Rosseli. To Yekaterinburg. 48 hours plus three time zones adding anther 3hours. = 51 hours in total 2 days 3 hours arriving in Yekaterinburg on day 21. For a two night stay. Noting my small hand luggage case in photo two!!!! Our carriage has 4 Austrailia, 2 Brits, 1 Irish, 2 Russians & single Russian Mum with a toddler. Some conversation, made friends with two of the Austrainlains, from Adelaide who will end up in London & will have been away 7 weeks, otherwise every one keeping them selves to themselves. .. Landscap for two days, pretty much the same, for the whole journey with two thousand + miles of silver birch trees, small villages couple of cities & large large spaces of ploughed fields. Couple major oil refineries & constant stream of trains 🚂 with tanks, and containers...

14 May 2018

Day 19/Mon May 14th. Thought we would have day of culture and take in a couple of museums, only to discover they all close on Mondays!!! Opted to follow more of the Green Tourist line. Had to take photo of Lenin, he everywhere...Across the river the new town has tall apartment buildings, with more being built. Cars 🚗 are manufactured here. Cars on the road a mix from from very new to v v very old. The power station (behind the former KGB building and eternal flame )has now been closed (now know as The House of Soviets) The power station a bit close to town perhaps!! School party of small children visiting the eternal flame all given a red carnation to very respectfully place on flame monument. And the stop for coffee.. Locals love feeding pigeons. Water runs down the drain pipes & straight on to pavement that have no respect for H & Safety... H & S not reach here yet..!!! Back to hotel & 🛀 & bubbles and think about the two day train 🚂 ride to Yekaterinburg tomorrow (no WiFi)🤦‍

13 May 2018

Day 18 /Sun May 13th....and off to catch local bus 🚌 to Listvyanka, nearest small town on Lake Baikal, where locals go for day out (36 mls) The bus goes on time or when full ...which ever comes first!!! Not a system for the UK!!!! Sparkle on board. Town quite chilly when first arrived. 7° Wandered around local market. Rows of fish 🐟 stalls selling the local Omul fish, dried or sold freshly cooked. Opted for Skewered Lamb with rice and a beer, not quite Michelin Star but very tasty. (Declined the local fish as understood very very bony). Town became busier in afternoon and the sun ☀️came out. Some work needing to be done on the shore line, although sparkling new hotel just opened, so development starting to take place. The rail line runs the other side of the lake in front of the mountains (where the shore was iced up). In my own world for a moment looking at those snow capped mountains across the crystal waters with the sun shinning was one of those special Ahhhhh emotional tim
I’d send you my photos of Portmeirion and Bodnant gardens but they would look very tame against yours!! A real adventure for you, will be unforgettable I’m sure - AND your still looking very glam on that camel!!! Loving your news - keep it up! Xx

12 May 2018

Day 17/May12th... off for a real explore today. Suss out local transport to Listvyanka, small town on shore of Lake Baikal, nearest place to get to easily. An hours bus ride for £1.30. Famous for the Omul fish 🐟 that only lives in this lake. So think we know what will be for lunch tomorrow. Wandered up Karl Marx Street and Lenin Street, the two main streets here, well they would be..!!! Buildings, Fountains, Monuments, Food market, Churches...lit a candle for Mummsie in one of them... the eternal flame for soldiers. (210,000 went from this town WWII) Stopped for lunch, and a coffee and cake. Followed the Green Tourist Line for a little while... Found a supermarket... Good range of chocolate bars...!! Meandered back to hotel and bubbles... 🛀💤💁🙋🙆‍♀️
Day 16/ Fri May11th...3.22pm arrived Irkutsk.(Russia) 639 mls, from Ulaanbaator (Mongolia) 24 hrs by express train 🚂. The train line followed the edge of Lake Baikal for a while, the largest, deepest fresh water 💦 lake in the world 🌎 with its shore still a little frozen from the winter.. Maybe I was going to need those thermal Long Johns after all.!!!! Typical wooden Russian villages and houses by the train line. Settled into hotel. Both given suite each ...and a bath 🛀 = BUBBLES... after 9 days of 24 hours together we ready for some space & time of our own. London compensating and paying for the extra night here we needed because they switched us to the express train. Moral dilemma... the hotel not charging us for arriving a day earlier..” it izzz notzz necessariezzz”.. A little wander into town. The town is famous for its old wooden architecture 18th/19th century properties/houses, many now in disrepair. So thirsty opted for a beer ! I’ll sleep on the dilemma..💤💁💤🙋

11 May 2018

Cont... next the train 🚂 is shunted into sidings to have the “bogies” changed... as the gauge on Chinese/ Mongolian are different on the Russian Railway..lots and lots of banging and shunting.. and midnight were were on our way... By now changed into PJ’s and clambered up into bunk (top) ..just settled when door of cabin flung open,,, no not James Bond/ Daniel Craig... it’s the Russian Team of Customs, Security Immigration this time ..!!!!! So now there is the indignity of getting back down from on top, with my ass in the air wearing delectable M & S leopard prints silky PJ’s that Bet Lynch would disown.. (the idea being to discard unwanted clothing as we traveled.. these PJ destined to be discarded in St Petersburg ) I laughed, the Immigrations guy smiled. Val now on top tired stress level swore, so there was our first night in Russia, stood in a corridor Val in nightie and me looking like a reject from the Masi Mara..and so to bed..💤💤💤
Day 15/Thus May 10th..TheOrient Express ..THIS IS NOT... it may be 1st Class but this is Chinese 1st Class.... not a patch on the Russian 1st Class according to Val, she most disappointed, and no meals included, but.we were prepared, “we had Scooby snacks”... Now who was going to sleep 💤 on top bunk???.(original ticket was two bottom bunks)I bravely said I would go on say you needed the skills of both Chris Bonnington and a mountain goat is putting it mildly..once on top the thoughts of getting back down....&£#@.. Settled In nicely, half prepared for bed 🛏 ..and at the next stop ...The customs gal appears... and then the security girl, tiny little girl in full combat gear, throughly searches the room and bags for whatever!!! Stowaways??? ....Then the Immigration chappie, who orders “come” “stand closer”.... Wisdom and a smattering of life experience tells me this guy is not asking for a date......bearing in mind this is to leave Mongolia 🇲🇳...all good ..passports duly sta

10 May 2018

A little time to spare so walked to the square & came across a demonstration. China has taken over large tracks of land for mining. Historically, open land has belonged to nomads for thousands of years. This was a peaceful demonstration against, the government, the purchase of the land & moving the nomads off the land, & the tents ⛺️ representing the Ger,s Also in the Square was a group of ladies in their best nomad dress, quite brightly coloured, funny sight with an older lady in traditional dress and on her mobile, making us smile. Then school lunch hour and out come the students, dress identical to any town in the UK. Taxi arrives & boarded the train leaving Ulaanbaator that left at precisely 3.22pm on 10th May. Bright sunny day. Station typical Russian as understand as it was built by them, very ornate with chandeliers... Samovar at the end of the carriage that provides permanent hot water for making tea, coffee ☕️, hot chocoholic... next stop Russia 🇷🇺.....💁🙋🙆‍♀️🤦‍♀️

9 May 2018

Spent the day walking the streets of UB (as Ulaanbaator is know locally). Couple of state owned department ( John Lewis style )stores. All the names that we know (Clarins etc, Jack Wolfskin, Sketchers, Hugo Boss etc etc ) even though the streets and pavements are very very rough, not a scrap of litter to be seen. Very strong Russian influence in buildings. Very western fashion in general. City Centre Square big enough for 3 Trafalgar squares with the parliament building presiding. Later in day it being the site of end of term high school photographs with the students in their finery. The train 🚂 ticket saga continues, with the wrong names, dates tickets being delivered to the hotel...more phone calls and emails, what did we do before WiFi....@&! All sorted... Originally going to be on the train for two nights ...36 hours Now on express 🚂 train, for 24 hours so just one night .. feel cheated...this is suppose to be the great train journey after !!! 🙋‍♀️🌸

8 May 2018

Left the ancient capital of Kharkourum yesterday, with a brief stop to view the 800 yr old turtle rock from Chinggis Khaan era, which did not get destroyed in some skirmish back then. Both the rock and the turtle itself are revered. The turtle 🐢 for its long life & being of the ancient religion of Shamanism, part of old Mongolian culture. At the side of the site of turtle rock is a shrine that locals leave horse head skulls, horse racing being a favourite sport in the country side. Head/skulls are left for luck. The head of their best horse is left to bring luck to have another good horse 🐎 in the future. In the back ground is the monastery that we visited yesterday. And on to the main east west highway. Couple of facility / toilet 🚽 stops behind the rocks on the road side..!!! And a stop for a rather nice lunch at a road side restaurant. Passing though a couple of small one street towns with car/ lorry ramps if you need them. !! And arriving back at our hotel in Ulaanbaator....?

7 May 2018

Onto the ancient capital of Karakoram as decreed by Chinggas Khaan. Good lunch at Russian restaurant. Visited temple and monastery, confess to a wee bit templed out .. And on to our last night on this leg, to our Ger for the night... Looong drive drive back to Capital UlaanBaator tomorrow 🙋🙆‍♀️🤷‍♀️🤦‍♀️
Good night with the nomads, although quite chilly. Toilet facility’s for day & night were “bob your bum” anywhere at the back of the Ger, behind a clump of rocks etc etc... Val not too impress with her nocturnal excursion, she heard the wood pile.!!! I was too busy trying to look up at the amazing night sky and stars...not easy trying to do both at the same time!!! Breakfasts at 8 am .. eggs with bread & jam and yak milk tea..or we could have had meat !!!🥩 Not to sure what on the menu later for our family but half horses🐴 leg close by...!!! A goodbye to our family, an brilliant true life experience. Leaving the Orkhon valley we came to The Bridge, ...somewhat rickety...due to the winters ice and snow...although it looked like it had several years of DIY repairs. We walked across and left the hairy crossing to the driver...Q? what are Unesco going to do about repairing it?? Stopped of to see some ancient Stoneage Tombs..... & Sparkle says Bye Bye to the Orkhon Valle

6 May 2018

contiued.....the goat 🐐 rescue... Baby goat born today further along a side valley. Mum took kid higher into valley. Our herdsman wanting to bring back closer to the heard and camp.....Did we want to go with them...?? Stupid question or what...?????? So we did hopped on to the back of the bikes and off we many does it take to rescue a goat???, Our Guide and driver on one bike.... Val and the herdsman on another ...... and herdsman’s brother had Biker Babe Lady Evelyn as pillion...!!! Goat return back to camp with the baby goat tucked inside our drivers traditional costume jacket. And mummy goat across the knee of our guide... one goat, one baby goat, one driver, one guide ... all on one bike..!!!!! The goats gather closer to the camp at night for safety. There be wolves 🐺 in them there forests 🌳 🌳 up the mountains....the herdsman and his brother have 900 sheep and goat between them... Sparkle found a new friend..... And sunset over the Orkhon Valley
Breakfast at 7.15,before the party of Koreans came for their breakfast. Advised to get in before them as they clear everything!!!! The ones on our table offered us their dried seaweed crispy slices to go with our omelette., which we accepted . Although they were eating with bead and jam!!! Yes it tasted ok. But they did not share the Vodkax. Met two ladies one German and one Hungarian, who were working with government agency doing....?!?! On to Central Mongolia and the Orkhon Valley a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and our time with a Nomadic family. Individual family Ger camps scattered across the valley floor. The valley is 180k /120 miles long. Parts still covered from the winter. Settled into our Ger, lunch with family, noodles and meat Horse riding in the afternoon Evening meal with the family all very real and authentic. Lamb with rice and hot milky drink made with Yaks milk... all very good, very tasty. Then off to rescue a goat 🐐 ... !!!!! continued......

5 May 2018

Entertained on way back to camp 👍Blue flat back lorry dragged backwards into ditch by red tractor 👍yellow tank loaded on to flat back lorry 👍 tractor to pull flat back lorry out of ditch 👍tractor unable to complete mission as lorry appeared to be stuck/grounded! ! We felt it best to leave them to it... Back to Ger and the sunset. 🙋💁🙋💁
After Chingis Khaan onto our first Ger in a tourist camp. Travelled off road for 12 miles to get to camp. Traditionally decorated and with a Woodburner. It was cold extra blankets provided. Toilets across to the main building. Packed a torch as instructed. Settled in and then off to find the native wild horses. It seems there were extinct here 1800. Reintroduced from breeding programme in Holland back in the 1990’s with 15 horses. Now a herd of over 300 in protected National Park. And declared the only true wild horse. The breed of the horse 🐴 is called “Takhi”.. pronounced as if clearing the back of throat.!!!!
Contin....Camel ride after lunch, loved it , would have been quite happy to roam over the dunes all day..Lawrence of Arabia eat your heart out..!!! Looked after by nomadic family who own a funky looking wheelbarrow. Drank beer 🍺 , tea ☕️ , milk 🥛 ... Off to another temple , good drive, passed a river with good bird 🦅 🐦 life. Learnt that the brighter coloured the lichen is the purer the air is....So no pollution here...!!!!! Off to visit temple in a valley and into the bottom slopes of mountains , site of 13 original century temple. Declined to climb up the mountain to the top temple though.!!!!!
A good day... breakfast 8am. Shooed resident feline out the night before. However it took up resistance some time during the night on the spare bed.!!! Then off again. 200miles ???(280 k) into more central Mongolia to next camp. Passed couple of small towns on way , with lots of ‘restaurants’ ias the road is the main highway east to west. Lots of petrol ⛽️ stations, some very, very new. All petrol and gas comes from Russia. Sheep/cattle and Herdsmen on bikes and horses regular sight as now seeing lots of nomadic camps. Nomads respected here, increasing, now up to 30% of population. Was 20% but young people moved to the city for work , no work and moved back to family and nomadic life. Population of Mongolia is 3million and 50% of population live in the capital. Arrived at new camp with traditional greeting and dish of dried curds.. (surprised myself that managed to eat it) tasted of sweet salty cheese. And now time for lunch. Very good ...pumpkin soup with beef and veget

4 May 2018

Next stop to the Chinggis Khan statue. OMG.... stands out in the plans/steppes in an unbelievable spectacle. Climbed up inside and came out on top of the horses head. Built on the site where his horse whip is supposed to have been found. Funded by chappie who owns a travel company and who is now the president. Plans are to build tourist Gerts around it. One photo shows the bases already in place. Second floor of the building is a very nice restaurant where we had lunch. Then buses of schools children we moved on. 🙋
Set off at breakfast to the first few stops of the day. Guide is Ualga and the driver is Tiemba. First stop shirine for good fortune at the side of the road, not too keen on the eagles tethered there with chappie for photo opportunity for tourists. The landscape not changed. And on to temple, passedIwhat we understood to be quite a famous rock called “turtle rock “ and the turtle is featured in myths legends. Onto the temple where we hiked up the mountainside and had snow flurries. I was well wrapped up whilst Val in her short sleeves!!! Buddhist sayings along the path up and down to the temple. Small boys in nomadic families before school they go to school still dressed in traditional gear. Nomadic children in very very rural areas are sent away to school , government funded, only come in home at special holidays, bit like our boarding school without the school holidays.
Further Email back from UK taking full responsibility for not informing us of the change in train departure to an earlier departure time. !!!! Think we are very lucky .... time shows in English on ticket... bottom left... It’s now 8.30 and we ate breakfast and off on our travels into Mongolia. Land cruiser vehicle traveling in has WiFi ...!!!! Sister tells me she was nearly sick looking at photos from restaurant last night....Forgotten to say that Val had ‘Stir fry lamb Offal’... on that note will catch up later.. xxx

3 May 2018

Settle here in UB for one night. Good modern hotel. Back from traditional concert... one hour just long enough. Little bit of everything. No photographs allowed which is a shame. Very colourful & interesting, not too sure of the ladies with the traditional folk music , a wee bit screechy. The Mongolian throat song , has to be heard to be believed... in a good way 🤗 We were quite taken with the ‘springy girls’ (photo 3 ) all professional players & musicians, always busy and sold out during tourist season. The theatre was on apiece of scrub land mixed in with the high rise new high rise buildings. Piccy 4 And we have seen some more white people....!!! it was a bit of “Dr Livingston I presume “ in Beijing. Tourist here are mostly America, Australian, majority are Korean with a few now from UK. Evening meal ...few choices to tempt us.. personally settled on lamb chops ..piccy 8..!!!! And our guide /courier opted for sheeps stomach soup...!!!! And my first Mongolia beer ..Gobi Gold
Midday, 3rd May Arrived in Ulaanbaator Mongolia, picked from Airport by courier as planned.... all good 🙋✅💋 Loving all the little comments you making... xx Off to concert tonight...

2 May 2018

Cont....Little tuk tuk taxi to the ticket agency. Taxi guy was brilliant, phoned every man and his dog for us. The lady from the ticket agency came down from this big office building down on to the street to find us, the taxi driver had described two foreign women looking lost!!!! Her name was Tracey, very English for a Chinese lady who spoke excellent English and the one who Val had corresponded with to have the tickets delivered / couriered to the hotel before we left the UK. It seems that the time of the train had been changed one month ago but our itineraries had not been updated. Faults on both sides as to be fair the time was shown in English on the tickets.. Within 20 mins, Tracy our saviour, had our train tickets cancelled with promise of full refund....even though we had actually missed the train...!!! ✅ Flights booked for next day to Ulaanbaator to arrive BEFORE we would have done on train ✅ Airport hotel book for that night✅ BACK ON SCHEDULE ...👌🌈👍🌈🤗🌈🌟
cont....Through security at station, went to enquiry desk to check our train and which waiting room that we needed to be in as there was no mention of it on the departure board....only to be told that we has MISSED THE TRAIN.....WHAAAAAAAT... 10am we were booked on !!! ⁉️‼️⁉️ All our info, emails etc from our booking agency told us 10 am . It was only 8am ... how could we miss it...?!?!?! .. they pointed out that the ticket said the departure time was 7.25am and there it was printed on the ticket. .. Val had become keeper of the tickets and they were printed in both Chinese’s and English..but the time had not been spotted. We now had to go back to the ticket agency somewhere in down town Beijing to get them changed... the next train to Mongolia to Ulaanbaator was in 7 day week....!!! Which meant we missed the connection for the next train..... OMG and OMG again....
Cont......Two nights back returned to hotel after meal, stopping on the way at the little shop to pick up some fruit and snacks for the rail journey. Back in the room , suddenly not feeling to well . Need to use the bathroom!!! Over the next few hours till, about 1am in the morning a great friendship developed twix the bathroom and myself... pain, cramps...OMG .. at one point I thought I’ll never make the train 🚂 in the morning....but everything settled. Morning arrived, feeling OK but not great. Packed the bags that I didn’t do the night before... but hey ho... Val knocked on the door & said what a rough night she had too, we deduced that it was something we ate at the restaurant. So we can eat street food, and in little back street local restaurants but go somewhere European and wham ... wipes you out. The morning gets better... planned to take the bus (20p) we had done the reckie all good but as Val feeling more drained than me we opted for a taxi. ......

1 May 2018

Conti.....,the palace was busy, it being a holiday. Of course in one of its busiest places whilst coming down 3 steps In true gymnast style I managed to do a forward flip and fall on my back.. Silence , complete silence. .. then some burly Chinese guy picked me up like a rag doll and stood me up. !!!! Normal Chinese’s chattering continued. No damage other than being a bit dirty and feeling foolish... these dam foreigners No sure what these Chinese get up to near water.....but the sign at the side of the lake on photo 2 tells us “No Romping”....we have now passed The Bridge of the Pastoral Poems and The Pavilion of Bright Scencery....all very lovely for somewhere for Emperor and Empresses to have a summer break... Back into Beijing and stopping off at restaurant reccomened , a modern American style, steak bar with stunning all you can eat salad bar. We had eaten lunch there the day before ...very nice. Back to the hotel to sort out for catching the train next morning....mmmm .... !!!
Dear, Journi, What a story I need to tell you, but first let me catch myself up with yesterday. We opted to visit the Summer Palace, north West of the city. Trip from hotel £30, the underground tube £5...!!! Little tuk tuk ride the other end . Price agreed £3 for the two of us. .. Ahhhh but the crafty guy tried to charge us £3 each when he dropped us off. Val was out of the tuk tuk & paid him and In true British/foreign style I hopped out, feigned complete ignorance and away we walked...!!! Another vast and wondrous place. Lakes, marble bridges, woods, temples.. impossible to do it all so we wandered about the lake and temples, took a boat ride a ride across one of the lakes, wandered in and out of temples along the way. I think I I would like a couple of temples, The Heavenly Temple on Longevity Hill looked nice in the distance ... I was a public holiday so the place was quite busy....continued .....

30 April 2018

Discovered a food market yesterday whilst out, hordes of people queuing to get into a small side street. We opted to give it a miss as it looked such a crush. On second one thoughts we looked at each other and said ‘come on let’s see what there. What a treat - a local Chinese food street with Chinese’s local shops!! This is where the locals were. The photos will show what was on offer..this could be squeamish ...first stall was scorpions.. yes real live scorpions 🦂 on sticks all ready to be fried and eaten.. several of these stalls with various type of scorpion. something we not sure about (photo 4 ) but convinced ourselves it chicken., lots of quid and crab. Quails eggs with prawn 🍤 we think. Some type of whole bird!!!!! We think (again...Lots of thinking here.. ) it was chicken ...after it was a baby chick.. and before it was a big chicken ....something with tendrils....lots of various meats on sticks, black rice in pineapples. I opted for a small leg of lamb...very tasty..
Started day with dry run to railway station on the bus. All good , 20p bus ride. Sorted. Tuk tuk taxi to Tienamns Square , took video of ride, but it quite tame compared to the actual ride ... today is public holiday thought it would be good to join to atmosphere in the Square. Joined vast queues to get into the square. All needing ID and bags through security like airport, high police and security presence. We seem to be a novelty as Chinese’s wanting photos with us. Some quite open about it ...some secretly taking snaps of us. Yesterday to the wall we has a black lady with us who attracted lots & lots of attention. When in the Square, it’s so big that despite the hordes of people queuing when in the Square it just appeared you became just a speck. Gardens on either side very pretty and manicured. Stopped off at park on way back home to hotel. And then the food /shops market and some of what one may call...’Tourist Novelty ’ but was normal type of items that the local Chinese buy.?

29 April 2018

Guess it’s time for bedybyes ... all caught up, today’s trip to the wall, lunch, tomb etc cost us the grand total of about £35. !!! Seems the hotel was doing a deal.... Coach, lunch, tickets to tombs and tickets to TGWOC... £35... Lots of men died building the wall and they just buried them in the wall as they went along.....!!!!! lots of history to read up I think. The mornings are busiest when it is one mass of heaving bodies , hence we were taken in the afternoon when it was quieter. If I had to add anything it was that the wall was quite commercialised, the area, we were had been renovated back in the 19890’s, but this is similar of the places that are the closest to Beijing. To see the wall more authenticity you need to travel further afield. But it was still dam amazing . Cup of Jasmine Tea and a late night snack for me and my little pink friend who has joined me on this adventure.. Xx
Day 4 And on to today & The Great Wall of China 🇨🇳 ....Another OMG let me pinch myself moment.. Early start , 7am... English speaking guide called himself Bruce Lee. Took a while to get out of the city, wall to wall cars and high rise buildings, hard to describe , it has to be seen to be believed. So slow,,,,,, bumper to bumper for miles... First stop a tomb of an empower, quite a bad guy , lots of wine, women and song and killing, hence nothing is written on his stone..There was nothing good to say about him!!! On to silk factory to be persuaded to but silk beddding. I have to say the silk blankets were very tempting ... Sadly no silk scarves to be had..... Then on to Jade factory, store outlet, very interesting, lunch was provided. Onto The Wall..... it’s hard to imagine how they built this on the steep contours of the hills but they did and I here I was seeing it, walking on it..,,,!!!! Seeing it disappear into the distance over the hills, with the towers on strategic points.

28 April 2018

Continued.... Out of the Palace\Forbidden City and in to Tieneman Square. Amazing place, stood there in awe and wonder , pInching myself that I was stood there. Imagines of the student stood in front of the tank came to mind... The Forbidden City and Tienaman Square are directly opposite each other, turn 180degrees and you face one and same again and you face the other. ‘‘Twas a wee bit overwhelming.... Joined the fast moving queue for the Mausoleum to see Chairman Mou only to be asked to leave as we were carry bags and they had to be checked on, no bags, etc inside the mausoleum... so we’ll leave that for another day. Headed up to an area reckoned, little more authentic, the Hutongs.. small alleys where the less well off people live., small cramped places, some better than others, more local shops, Had great lunch in local restaurant.
Day 3 Spotted couple of guys, playing what looked like cross between droughts with mahjong type counters. Popped into a temple and had a word with those on high. Spotted a window selling Cath Kitson bags which made me smile..”knock offs”....?? Took a while to weave our way back to the hotel, with a local bus and a group of senior schools guys , they took great care to ensure we understood. They were great, phones out, translations, bus routes, times, how many stops etc etc.. A good day.. 🙋💁

27 April 2018

Day 1......continued ...Val my travel buddy was there waiting for me and it was a little early to check in... which when we did was sooooooooo slow. Thumbs up 👍👍 to air China 🇨🇳. Great flight, Food ok. On time, Super staff. Plane floated into Beijing. ... could not tell you had landed... .. Bit of a drive to the hotel.... sooo much traffic. Hotel clean if a little tired.... water , kettle ect.... AND an hairdryer.... !!!!! In a determined effor to travel extra light...the hairdryer and tongs are at home.. !!!! Never ever ever been known and never been done before... !!!!!,

23 April 2018

Day 1..Well let the adventure truly begin..Stayed over night at Bagshott with friend Ed. Supper, gossip and endless chat as ever. The next day Ed & I went to Osterley where is is a National Trust room guide with the plan being for Ed to drop me off at the airport in the afternoon Yes all went according to plan. Great time at Osterley and learnt a few things Ed duly dropped me off at Heathrow, Terminal 3 as per my instructions and we waved each other a fond farewell.... as you do. However almost a disaster from the start !!!!! Why . It does help if you go to the right terminal. I had to be at Terminal 2... I knew I had to be at terminal 2 ... so what in God’s name possessed me to tell Ed T3.... A very nice helpful lady explained where I needed to be....which is only few minutes walk away. !!!!! Now her definition and mine of a few minutes walk are a little different.... 20 minutes is a not few minutes... but perhaps airport minutes are a little different. All ok .. xxx

4 March 2018

The Bright Idea...yes we all have bright ideas. Some 10 month ago I met a fellow participant on a National Trust Working Holiday. After much conversation and swapping stories and realising how well we got on with each other, the holiday ended with these now famous words from myself... “If you are ever short of a travelling companion , please give me a call”.......🙋 Well that call came a few weeks later... and after meeting up in Stratford upon Avon and spending 4 hours in Costa Coffee in May 2017 with laptops, books and enthusiasm ....the plan was hatched to do The Mongolian / Siberian Railway.....