Thursday 1 Jun
The train from Ulaan Baatar to Beijing
Unlike our two previous trains on the Trans-Mongolian route around 80% of the passengers were foreign tourists, which was a little disappointing. However, we did manage to find an Irish lad called John who we had met in Beijing and bumped into again in Irkukst. He was a very cheerful chap with a loud laugh. He had bought the same Trans-Siberian book as us by Bryn Thomas who had a paranoid tick which he passed on to all his readers (see previous train entry about the Russian-Mongolian border). We had a good laugh about our Bryn.
It was an otherwise uneventful trip across the Gobi Desert until we reached the border. Here they have to change the bogeys to a slightly small gauge. To my delight this was done whilst we were still on the train. We were shunted into a large hanger and each carriage was lifted up on pneumatic jacks. The bogeys were then removed and the new ones rolled into place. As this was happening two guards practiced the Bruce Lee one inch punch on each other to pass the time.
By morning we were close to Beijing and the Great Wall. We stopped at a viewpoint, but mist covered most of the wall which made it a lot more mysterious and romantic so not all bad. We reached Beijing by lunchtime. So far we had traveled around 10,000km by train since leaving England 3 1/2 weeks ago.