Platform 9 and ¾

Trans-Mongolian Railway, A view from our compartment

"But, Hagrid, there must be a mistake. This says Platform 9 ¾. There's no such thing, is there?"
“But, Hagrid, there must be a mistake. This says Platform 9 ¾. There’s no such thing, is there?”

I feel like I am on the Hogwarts Express, going off to a land of magic and wonders – which may not even be so far from the truth.

As I am writing this, I am lying in a bunk bed somewhere along the tracks of the Trans-Mongolian Railway. I have passed cities like Omsk and Novosibirsk, and more desolate places are yet to come.

The route I am currently undertaking used to be traversed by tea-laden camels – connecting Beijing and Moscow in 40 days. The train now allows for the same journey in just a week.

I thought boredom would hit me much faster, being stuck in such tiny compartments for 5 days straight, no shower, no soap, no proper food, no internet. But such confinements have so far been an amazing experience, where you get to see the barren, Russian landscape pass you by. Here on day 2, the nature has been changing a lot, where the variation in the vegetation makes amazing pictures.

The hours are killed by reading Steinbeck and writing diary, whereas Mette is slowly making some beautiful touches on a flowery embroidery whilst listening to Freakonomics.

We eat the same food every day. By the Chinese conductors we can get free hot water, which has become an important part of our meals. Breakfast is good old Danish ‘havregrød’ (oatmeal), and a cup of coffee. Lunch is good old Danish ‘rugbrød’ (rye bread) with lots of Nutella. Dinner is noodle soup.

Food I eat on the Trans-Mongolian train

Our roomies in our little compartment are from Belgium and they also plan to go to Mongolia where the mission is to buy two horses and go off as cowboys into the wilderness of West Mongolia. We have been less adventurous and will get off in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, and from here go on a tour with interpreters and live with nomads in their gers.

Whilst all of this must sound peaceful and serene to your observing eye, we had a bit of drama last night. Our Belgian friend, in the upper bunk bed, had a dangerous mix of whiskey and vodka in our neighboring party-compartment, and he unfortunately decided to go to bed and wake us all up by doing a bit of projectile vomiting all over our compartment. Unfortunately our compartment is not much bigger than a double bed in width and length, and none of us got free of the gooey liquescent. The gravity of this situation increases once you remember, dear readers, that we have no shower.
However – such bleakness of an adventure has a glorious ending after all. As our two Belgian friends cleaned and cleaned on the commandments from Mette, the two Chinese conductors felt compassion for the two Danish girls (yup, us), and we got some free Chinese lessons in their compartment in the early morning hours – just as a beautiful, foggy scenery was relaying itself outside in the forest.

Photos taken by myself or awesome Mette Nielsen. All photos so far have been taken with her awesome Nikon camera. Thank you, Mette! Click on an image to view it in the fancy Carousel mode! :-)

Tech notes:

  • Camera model: Nikon D5100
  • Post-processing: Lightroom 3 (by Gideon ♥)

Poncho, our dear puking friend – If you read this: We will eventually forgive you
-safest travels on your horse in Mongolia – may it be free from your vomit.


2 thoughts on “Platform 9 and ¾

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