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Russia

TransNoGolian Express

snow 1 °C

No pretty photos on this one. Sad entry!
I was just about to post that, subject to acquiring facemasks (nobody is allowed on the Metro or in taxis in Beijing without one), I was going to set off for China as planned. Sadly though I have just received an email to let me know that Train 4 from Moscow to Beijing departing tomorrow is cancelled. As it is a Chinese train, it will be running but it won't allow anyone to board which is even more frustrating! The Mongolia China border remains open, as does the China Vietnam border.
So after years of planning, what was meant to be a round the world trip without flying will definitely involve some flying, there is simply no way round a massive country like China unless I can find another month or two (and probably a camel)!! So I will just have to make the best of it. I will try to stick as close to the route as possible and fly as few miles as possible.
So... a train (Russian Railways train 2) leaves Moscow for Vladivostok in... 5 hours(!) and I have a ticket for it! Sadly I can't stay on it all the way because my Russian visa will expire before it gets there. I'm going to get off at Irkutsk and after a 5 day 5,000+km journey hopefully make a 30 minute connection on to train 306 to Ulaanbaatar/Ulan Bator. All being well I should arrive there on Saturday morning around 3am UK time and I will need to get a flight before Monday as I only have a 3 day transit visa for Mongolia. So an update on Saturday hopefully!

P.S - Sadly this means saying goodbye to passepartout Emma a few hours earlier so I have to thank her for letting me go and leave her in Moscow for a few hours! Just as sadly, passepartout John has made the (understandable) decision to abandon the train altogether and fly directly to Tokyo to continue his trip there. There are very few people I would contemplate sharing a tiny train compartment with for what would have been a 7 day journey to Beijing and I will really miss his company to UB. Best of luck on your travels though John.
P.P.S - Have to thank Gaby in Chengdu who has been answering all my annoying messages and giving me idea of what it's actually like in China and how everything is operating. Also Real Russia and China DIY Travel have been absolutely outstanding during what must have been a really busy couple of weeks for them. I normally hate using travel agencies as I feel I'm paying someone to do what I could do myself, but I would definitely recommend either of these if you need to book train tickets in Russia or China.

Posted by around129 06:37 Archived in Russia Comments (1)

China? I really MOSCOW!

overcast -1 °C

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Just a quick update from Moscow! After 2,164 miles (the second longest direct passenger service in Europe according to seat61.com), we slid into Belorussky station a couple of minutes early, as unassuming as if we had just done a quick journey in from the suburbs! Photo is of the RDZ electric loco that did the final stretch. Border formalities at Brest went ok. On the Polish side they had a good laugh at us about Brexit (with just 3 hours to go) and looked at us like one might at someone who had just been thrown out of a nice bar for turning up in scruffy jeans and a t-shirt. Once they had stopped laughing the "bye bye" was definitely a little pointed. On the Balarussian side we were scalded for not scoring through a Not Applicable section of our immigration cards and had our room tipped upside down. But the visas were stamped and we were in our way. As expected, no checks between Belarus and Russia. Shortly after the border check into Belarus, the carriages were shunted to a shed with us still on board to have the wheels changed to run on the Russian system.

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Straight onto the Moscow Metro which is an experience in itself. No photo can really do it justice but at every station we have seen so far it's more like walking round a palace than a subway system. Each with their own character and spotlessly clean.

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After a freshen up at the hotel we went straight to Red Square where it was difficult to get any decent photos of the buildings because of all the Christmas decorations and markets! We think from a sign we saw they are here from 21st December until mid-March!

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Continuing to agonise over the route from here. Both borders in and out of China are currently open and both train routes are running. Singapore, Australia and the USA (all countries en-route) have barred "recent" visitors from China. From what I can tell "recent" means within the last fortnight so that won't affect me. If anyone sees or hears anything different, please let me know, thankyou! After so much planning, flying unnecessarily is unthinkable but I don't want to risk getting stuck for a month!

Thanks for the comments. Pun of the week award to Ray and Elizabeth!

Next update on Tuesday hopefully!

Posted by around129 08:58 Archived in Russia Comments (1)

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