How I Reached Mongolia, Alone!
Having no shower for 3 days is really something. 24-hour train trip from Zhangye to Beijing, 12-hour bus trip from Beijing to Erlian, and 16-hour train trip from Zaamin Uud to Ulaanbataar. Seriously, was I out of mind?
It’s not like I’m addicted to long-distance trip relay, but I only had limited time this time because I couldn’t leave my work for too long, so I decided to arrange itinerary like this.
I learnt from some other bloggers, getting to Ulaanbaatar from Beijing could be cheap (half price of trans siberia), so I was excited to try after collecting some informations.
First, once I arrived at Beijing West Station I had to go to Muxiyuan Bus Station, around 600 metres from Dongximen Subway Station in Beijing. But accessing the subway station from inside Beijing West Train Station was crazy, the ticketing system is still manual with long line-up. But I needed to take the subway anyways, and I didn’t know that I could take subway with self-service ticketing machine from the other side of the street after going outside of the station and crossing the bridge.
Once I reached Dongximen station, I used maps.me to reach the Muxiyuan Station. I was glad when I saw some sleeper buses parked from afar.
The ticketing guy said it was only 1 seat left, the one behind the driver. I saw it was shorter than other sleepers so I refused it in beginning but then I realized I had no other option but to agree with his offer which was with CNY 20 discount! So I paid CNY 200 only while the official fare is CNY 220.
I had to wait for several hours before departing, so I walked to nearest mosque for half an hour and it was about 2 km away from the bus station. I totally walked for 4 km that day, as if my legs would had known that they would rest during the bus trip!
The bus left at 20:30, while the ticket said 17:00. I had no idea why the baggage system was so terrible that delayed the departure. And before it really moved, all of the passangers were asked to walk across the bus station through the bridge to a parking lot behind high buildings. I was really confused, but I guessed it had something to do with tricking the officials or whatever, I was just trying to go with the flow. Lol.
After several stops at rest areas, I arrived at Erlian. During the bus trip, I met a nice Mongolian girl that spoke English fluently, she had just graduated from her college in Beijing. Crossing China-Mongolia border in Erlian was not that easy as they said because I needed to find other people to share the transportation cost. But thanks to her, she didn’t mind if I joined her to cross the border.
After taking the car trip from Erlian/Erenhot Bus Station to the market with negotiated fare CNY 10/person, we switched car to minibus with fare CNY 80/person. She said it was quite cheap while others might get CNY 100.
The driver dropped us at Erlian checking point for passport check and picked us up at the exit gate with our baggages. Then he dropped us again in front of Zaamin Uud checking point for passport check in order to enter Mongolia.
I didn’t know what was wrong with my passport, the police at the Erlian checking point was taking me to see his superior and I needed to wait for quite some time plus getting dragged to here and there several times. But Mongolian passport checking in Zaamin Uud was not complicated, I needed less than 5 minutes to get the stamp. The lady asked me to show my passport to the immigration guy. The guy greeted me “Welcome to Mongolia”.
That’s how I reached Mongolia. Not really alone, though 🙂
From The Border to Ulaanbaatar
After arriving at Zaamin Uud train station, I went to a bank that’s located in front of the train ticketing office on 2nd floor of the train station building. I bought the train ticket after exchanging some USD to MNT.
Since I needed to wait for 6 hours because the train would leave at 18:00, I decided to a vip waiting room that sold meals and drinks with good wifi connection. I ordered a yak beef rice noodle. But the lady seemed unhappy that I stayed there too long. When I tried to order another meal and drink, she refused and neglected me 😦
I almost lost my favorite glasses but what’s meant to be will always find its way, right. I found my glasses on the bench near the construction site, I guess a worker found it and placed it there.
There’s a left baggage service inside the building with VIP waiting room. But no body spoke English when I was there, so I decided to carry my stuffs here and there.
I was surprised to find a nice train interior. I could really feel the Mongolian vibe! Moreover, I met a group of young people that shared the cabin with me. One of them is a travel agent and speaks English very well.
While In Ulaanbaatar
Once arriving at Ulaanbaatar station, I immediately went out to find someone from Ghana Guesthouse that was arranged to pick me up. It wasn’t hard because he was carrying a big paper with my name written on it.
My travelmate, this time it was Inne again, took flight from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar so the guesthouse arranged separate pick-ups for us.
I enjoyed a full self-treatment coffee scrub before having a proper shower in Ulaanbaatar. Oh yeah I brought coffee ground because I knew I would need the scrub after several days without shower. But after that, I was going to have another long trip without shower again, lol.
The temperature was 30ºC on June 28th. That was okay since the fasting period was over and I could explore the city centre without risking a dehydration. Cinggis Khan Square can be reached by walking for 10 minutes from Ghana Guesthouse, I used maps.me, my powerful travel bible, as usual.
On our way back to the guesthouse, we made it to visit a cute souvenir shop that sells almost everything we wanted! I could sleep with smile that night. I could make it to reach UB alone, didn’t smell bad after almost a week without shower, bought cute souvenirs, and was so excited for the Gobi tour.
Upcoming next: Unforgettable Gobi Tour..