AUG 6, 15 .. THE MONGOLIAN RAILWAY .. PART 1

YOU MIGHT WANT TO HAVE YOUR POPCORN BESIDE YOU AS YOU BEGIN THIS POST .. IT FEELS-LIKE IT WILL BE LENGTHY .. MOMMY AND DADDY WHAT DOES HE MEAN ABOUT POPCORN .. /SIGNED/ A PRECOCIOUS SIX-YEAR-OLD CHILD IN INDIA OR ELSEWHERE .. Well son when you go to the movies .. 

When I came to Mongolia and found out that there is a very viable railway system here .. both Freight and Passenger service .. I made a solemn vow to myself that I would take at least one-short-trip on a Mongolian Train.

This Post began its life titled .. ULAANBAATAR RAILWAY STATION .. However it grew larger than the Ulaanbaatar Railway Station and so I re-titled it .. THE MONGOLIAN RAILWAY.

As you can see in the below map .. the distance from my building (the left balloon) to the railway station (the center balloon) does not appear to be too-far. I have been planning since I got my room here to walk all the way from my building to the center of downtown Ulaanbaatar (the right balloon). The walk to the railway station certainly appears to be shorter. So I decided to take that walk first and to explore the Ulaanbattar Railway Station. Here we go.

 

Here is a little snippet titled .. “Can You Believe This?”

With my hyper-intense interest in trains ..

“Can You Believe This?” .. It was Patti who pointed out to me where the railway station was when we two were proof-reading my JUL 30, 15 post. If you click onto the below link you can see the railway station both in the 4th Google map down from the top as well as in the very last map at the very bottom of that post.

http://babakaps.net/?p=14177

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Tuesday the 4th of August.

At 3pm with rain threatening .. Why did I set off and begin to walk to the railway station with a rain jacket and my umbrella?? I will never know.. OR WILL I? ..  It was not long before the rain began. Instead of turning back .. and I was sorely tempted to do so .. WHY DIDN’T I TURN BACK? .. I continued my journey to the railway station. Taking my time it was a 35-minute walk in-the-rain. I went back and did a second visit today the 6th of August in the sunshine and it took me 25-minutes.

Here we go walking to the railway station .. for the most part .. say 95% .. the sidewalk is simply excellent.

Below is a map showing my walk. The left balloon is my building. The next one is my first sidewalk view. The third balloon is my Irish Pub and Gasoline station land-mark. Then after I turn right the fourth balloon is a view of the walk South down Narnii Road to the sweeping left turn in the road (the fifth balloon) and finally the far right sixth balloon is the railway station.

 

Leaving my building .. The left balloon in the above map ..

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The view (the 2nd balloon) as I walk East down Peace Avenue. You can’t help but notice the excellent sidewalk.

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Below (the 3rd balloon) is my Irish Pub and Gasoline Station land-mark ..  A 10-minute walk here .. At which point I turn right as you see in the map .. and walk South down Narnii Road .. With reference to the below photo I turned around 180-Degrees and walked South.

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The next photo (the 4th balloon) is of the walk South down Narnii Road. Again note the excellent sidewalk.

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And then below the sweeping left turn (the 5th balloon) as I enter the home-stretch to the railway station ..

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The Ulaanbaatar railway station (the right balloon) at the end of my walk ..

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The below view is from the bus stop across the street.

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Please notice-if-you-will in the above two photos the RED COLOR of the words on the front of the railway station that faces the street. I ask you to do this because the rear of the railway station has corresponding words but they are in GREEN LETTERS. Do you suppose this is done so the local Mongolians will know which is the the front and which is the rear of the railway station?

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A closer look at the front of the railway station .. going from left to the center and to the right ..

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Below is a photo of the above garden that I snapped in the sun today August the 6th .. What a difference the sun makes!

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Below is the main entrance.

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The right side of the front of the railway station. Do you see the green letters over the door on the right below?

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A photo of the above garden .. that I snapped in the sun today on August the 6th .. What a difference ..

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Now I will show you the rear of the railway station. The rear of the station faces out onto the train boarding platforms.

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Green letters .. in English!! .. It is your time on-stage.  From the left ..

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To the center ..

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To the right ..

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How odd but there-you-have-it. A last look at the rear of the railway station.

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“Miss Mongolia .. Captain Kanbaatar here. Can you tell me just how do I tell the front of the railway station from the rear?”

“That is so easy Captain. The front has red letters above the station and the rear has green letters.”

“Thank you so very much Miss Mongolia. You are a real sweetheart Miss Mongolia. Now that I know this I will be able to catch my train.”

WHERE WAS WHEN GOT SIDE TRACKED HERE ??

How about a few photos of a real handsome old-timer located at the rear of the station.

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I hear the train a’ coming .. It’s rollin’ round the bend .. I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when .. I’m stuck in Folsom Prison and time keeps draggin’ on ..  THE FOLSOM PRISON BLUES ..  MISTER JOHNNY CASH ..

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I sure am NOT  stuck here in Ulaanbaatar .. I’m relaxing here and loving every minute ..

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The time has come .. The Walrus said .. To talk of many things ..

The time has come .. To go inside of the railway station .. This tourist office was not open but it sure is a great feature of the station ..

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There seem to be three distinct classes of waiting rooms. First is the basic waiting room .. No frills ..

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The waiting room below looks just a tad more up-scale to me .. WHAT AN UNDERSTATEMENT CAPTAIN !

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This is even more evident in the below photo. Nice paintings. Just a bit more dressy looking.

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Very nice ..

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I don’t know where the below waiting room fits into the scheme.

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It is certainly a bit more elegant than the first waiting room but not quite as up-scale as the second waiting room.

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There is also a very pleasant restaurant in the station ..

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The duty-free shop was not open.

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I personally have never had much interest in these shops. But it is up-scale to have one in the train station. THAT is a first for me. Airports are loaded with them .. Not railway stations ..

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I remain so very impressed with all that I am seeing here in Mongolia.

The below tickled me from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. The city of Ulaanbaatar is usually spelled (maybe 90% of the time) as one word as I have just spelled it. It is less commonly spelled as two words .. Ulaan Baatar .. or ‘UB’ for short ..

Below we have yet another Information Center. It looks quite official and quite proper .. Call it very Official .. In the background you can see four (4) clocks high upon the wall. Do you see them. Well!

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One of them ‘caught-my-eye’ ..

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This is quite a rare spelling of the name of the city of Ulaanbaatar (90% of the time).

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Amazing in the Mongolian Government’s Railway Station!  Go figure !  Ulan instead of Ulaan .. is not bad. But Bator instead of Baatar is radically different.

Next door to the above main railway station is a second building where one goes to actually purchase a ticket. A very nice looking building as you can see.

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A close-up photo of the Mongolian Horse logo above the door.

DSCN4663[1]A small snack shop.

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The room below is for international ticketing.

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Upstairs from the above room is a ticket office for domestic ticketing.

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Interesting to note the domestic ticking office is quite spartan when compared to the international ticketing office shown previously.

“OH CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN where are we?”

“We are at the Ulaanbaatar Mongolia railway station.”

“The railway station Captain?” .. “Yes.” ..

“Where-oh-where are the ..

TRAINS!”

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Below is a train passing through the station ..

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Notice the coaches in these four photos. They are green and they have a certain bare-bones and very-basic look to them.

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In the two photos above and in the one below you can see a difference between these green coaches.

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I believe that the two coaches on the left above are of a lower-class. For one thing you can see that their windows will open. The sealed windows on the other coaches tell me that they are air-conditioned. Just a hunch.

Now .. taa-daa .. Time for a quick chit-chat with God.

Oh God of Abraham .. How does this all work? Why exactly did I decide to go to the Ulaanbaatar railway station on a Tuesday leaving my apartment at 3pm. Just a hunch??  Sure .. I guess. Why didn’t I turn back and return home when the rain began to fall?  Sure .. just another coincidence. I have been told by my associates here in Ulaanbaatar that the only train North to Suhkbaatar leaves at 8:35pm. So I knew there would be NO trains at the railway station. I had absolutely no reason to continue walking as I was already getting wet. Why I wonder did I continue to the railway station.

Above I have shown the basic green coaches. What is happening here God? I find a train loading people at 3:45pm and the coaches certainly are quite different from those basic green coaches above.

Right in front of me .. before my very eyes .. I see a fancy up-scale train. It is now 4pm NOT 8:35pm. Something IS happening here God!

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The Mongolian horses again. First on the Mongolian Airline’s planes ..

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Then on their building ..

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On their train engines ..

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Do you all see the horses shown above on the side of the engine below.

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Mongolian Flying Horses everywhere!

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What on earth is going on here. I decided to do a little bit of asking-around.

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The office that I went to was that of the Station Master. I asked this lady about the ‘fancy’ train that passegers were boarding. When she told me I said ..

WHAT  DID  YOU  SAY?

“Sir .. I said that the train you are asking me about is the Trans-Mongolian Line of the Trans-Siberian Railway and it has come up from Beijing and is passing through Ulaanbaatar and will continue onward to Moscow!

Sure it is .. Just a coincidence that I came to the railway station on (1) a Tuesday (The Trans-Mongolian Line only comes through Ulaanbaatar on Tuesdays and Fridays) at the (2) exact time that it is in the station with passengers boarding about to head North for Moscow and points-in-between.

People like me who are into trains .. Put onto their bucket-lists .. To someday .. To one special someday .. Ride the Trans-Siberian Railway.

When I assimilated this information and settled down just a tad .. I asked her if the train goes through Suhkbaatar in the North and she said ..

Yes Sir the train passes through Sukhbaatar.”

Technically it is NOT the Trans-Siberian Railway per se but it is a formal line branching off near Ulan Ude Russia going South to Mongolia and Beijing China .. Not too shabby let-me-tell you all ..

Um-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m ..

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Wednesday the 5th of August

I was up early .. My mind was working overtime all night .. I went on-line and tried to find out all I could about the Trans-Siberian and the Trans-Mongolian Railways. Then I decided that I must ride this train. As hard as I tried I just could not get anywhere with my efforts.

The Time Has Come The Walrus Said ..

“Captain the time has come for you to call in the professionals.”

Don’t ask me how .. I tried to go back and re-construct my process and I could not do so .. but somehow on-line I contacted Solid Ways Travel. When I’m HOT .. I am HOT and I clicked with Teke. Without my support team here I am nothing.

“Changer will you please call Teke at Solid Ways Travel and ask her where her agency is and how I get there.”

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“Cap! The travel agency can’t be more than a fifteen minute walk from your place.”

My buddy ‘Zilla asked me whether or not I purchase maps when I am in a new city. ‘Zilla .. IF you will study the below journey from my apartment to the travel agency and understand precisely how difficult it was for me to get to their office .. I believe that you will see that NO map would have helped me. It was next-to-impossible for me to find and .. in the final analysis .. I DID NOT FIND IT  by myself.

I am on-my-way. What is the weather like outside today?  Sunny and dry.

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What to do .. Find my way out of my apartment .. THAT I can do ..

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Get on the elevator .. THAT I can do .. Not fancy but I am NOT fancy either.

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Out the entry-door to my building we go in the first two photos below.  THAT I can do. Do you all see the steps going upstairs. There are exactly 113 of them. I know because I have had to walk up .. and I have had to walk down .. these steps a time or two or even three ..

A tough photograph to take .. First it is too dark ..

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Then it is a tad too bright and too glaring ..

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I am out of my building ..

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I turn to my left and .. I can’t believe it!  The lake is missing this morning ..

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Now bend to the right ..

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Around the corner we go ..

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This road-lake is still alive-and-well ..

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Turn right and head West along Peace Avenue .. In the far distance is a gas station ..

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We are closing on the gas station ..

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What did Changer say about the gas station ..

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There is an Old Friend on the right .. One of my land-marks here in Ulaanbaatar ..

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A hospital .. Changer said something about a hospital .. I asked someone on the street ..

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A very nice man .. A tender heart .. Doing the very best he can with what he has ..Keep going straight I was told and I would come to THE hospital ..

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There is the hospital .. Whew .. It looks enormous ..

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Take a good look above and below .. What do you see? .. I could NOT believe it!

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Drop the ‘S’ at the front of the word SHASTIN and put in a ‘C’ .. You have CHASTIN .. Now put an ‘A’ between the ‘T’ and the ‘I’ and what have you?  CHASTAIN .. When my ninth generation ancestor Pierre emigrated from France in the year 1700 one pronunciation of my name Chastain was sounded out .. SHASTIN ..

LORD GOD OF ABRAHAM ARE YOU THERE? WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? I NOW HAVE MY OWN MONGOLIAN NAME (KANBAATAR) AND NOW THIS HOSPITAL NAME MAKES ME FEEL LIKE I REALLY BELONG HERE. 

What to do now? .. Where to go now? .. This enormous hospital is blocking my way .. Besides the address of my travel agency is on Peace Avenue and I am on Peace Avenue.  I tried to telephone Changer .. No answer .. I understand Changer has a job and a life .. No Problem .. What to do .. I am lost ..

I called Teke .. I see .. You are located North of the Hospital .. I need to go back East and then come North .. Something about another hospital ..

Back I go to the East .. Partner .. Is there another hospital .. There is .. Go up that road ..

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There is my church land-mark .. See it? .. How can you miss this beauty?

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Back through the gas station ..

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Turn left at the hotel and head North ..

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Look for the Evergreen shipping container .. There it is .. I am back on-track ..

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Look for Doctor Dent .. There he is .. So far so good ..

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Yes .. The Mercy Pub .. Still on track ..

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There is the other hospital .. What do I do now? I am confused .. Every letter in this hospital’s name is in my surname .. How Odd? .. Throw in an ‘S’ and and ‘I’ and you have the letters to spell Chastain ..

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I go straight North ..

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I haven’t a clue-in-a-carload .. I call Teke .. “Teke I am at the Doctor Auto Chain and ABTO Market. What do I do now?”

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“Stay there. I will come and get you.” .. When I click with someone .. I click .. Teke appeared on-foot and led me back to her office.

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I should have turned left here and not gone straight North like I did .. When I went back on-my-own a few hours later I made my left turn here as I should have done in the morning ..

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I have two choices here .. Go left or Go right ..

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I went left .. WRONG ..

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I went back .. This time I went to the right ..

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Walking West off we go ..

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There is the second hospital only this time the view of it from this road is correct ..

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At the end we take a right .. ‘ZILLA ARE YOU CLOSELY FOLLOWING ALONG HERE WITH ME? 

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Almost there .. Solid Ways Travel is in the light blue building on the right below.

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Getting very close ..

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In we go ..

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We sat at the table and we did business ..

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A close-up photo of Ulaanbaatar on the map of Mongolia that you see on the wall to the right above ..

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And Sukhbaatar .. spelled differently on the map below ..

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My paid-in-full ticket on the TRANS-MONGOLIA LINE OF THE TRANS-SIBERIAN RAILWAY .. one way from Ulaanbaatar to Suhkbaatar on Tuesday August the 11th .. 246,250 Mongolian Tug or US $ 125 ..Train Number 5 .. Coach Six .. First Class .. Lower Berth Number 15 .. Leave Ulaanbaatar at 4:25pm and arrive into Sukhbaatar at 10:50pm ..

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IF THE ONLY PRAYER YOU EVER SAY IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE IS THANK YOU .. IT WILL BE ENOUGH .. MEISTER ECKHART ..

THANK YOU TEKE !

I WAS LOST .. IT WAS YOUR LUNCH HOUR ..  YOU WALKED TO FIND AND TO GET ME AND TO BRING ME TO YOUR OFFICE .. WHILE STILL ON YOUR LUNCH HOUR YOU SET ME UP WITH MY TICKET .. 

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THANK YOU CHANGER !

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I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT YOU GOING-BETWEEN TEKE AND MYSELF TO ASSIST ME TO GET CLOSE ENOUGH THAT TEKE COULD FIND ME AND TAKE ME TO HER OFFICE ..

NOW .. NOW .. NOW .. ?

NOW the Rest Of The Story ..  I went to the Google-Andrej maps .. What do you see the left balloon pointing to? The right balloon is my Building Number 8. The center balloon points to Peace Avenue. Their address is Peace Avenue 79, Bayangol District. How on earth can they have a Peace Avenue address when they are about 1/4-mile North of Peace Avenue?

 

Yes .. There is my travel agency clearly identified. It turns out they are a working partner with Mongolian Railways and as such have their agency clearly identified on Google Maps .. Go figure! Even with this I doubt IF I could have walked straight to the agency on-my-own.

I want .. I love .. I crave .. All of This Action ..

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 

Thursday the 6th of August 

As you may have realized in reading the above .. Some of the photos of the railway station especially were taken in the rain on Tuesday which was my first ever visit to the Ulaanbattar (Ulan Bator?) Railway Station. Others were taken in the sun. Those ‘other’ sunny photos were taken today Thursday the 6th of August when I again walked to the railway station.

I went back primarily to confirm with the lady in the Station Master’s Office .. who was so very nice to me on Tuesday ..

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I wanted to confirm with her that my train ticket was 100% proper and valid .. It sure looks OFFICIAL!

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The above ‘ticket’ looks like no other railway ticket I have ever seen! For one thing it has four distinct parts to it!

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Believe me .. This is the time to ask .. NOT next Tuesday when I am boarding .. Or trying to board .. The Trans-Mongolian / Siberian Express!  She assured me that it was just fine and she read to me the important provisions .. August 11th .. Train Number 5 .. Berth Number 15 (lower) in Coach 6 .. Departing at 4:25pm (1625 Hours) .. for Suhkbaatar ..

And .. And .. And .. And .. ?

Well .. since I was at the railway station .. Why not snap a few more photographs .. Totally different photographs that I wanted to shoot last Tuesday but just could not do so in-the-rain .. So here we go ..

Looking to the West from the station you see the below ..

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“What are we seeing Captain?” .. “The foot-bridge-flyover across the railway tracks ..

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I walked as close to it as I could and found that I could NOT gain access to it from the railway property per se .. So I walked back to the station and shot a few photos while walking back ..

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In the below photo you really have to look closely to see the Grand Old Gentleman Locomotive .. He is on the left in front of the railway station ..

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Here is how he looks on a sunny day ..

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Then .. Not-to-be-denied .. I found my way onto the flyover. Fifty Six (56) steps-up worth of good exercise. Below are a few views from the flyover ..

Looking North East at downtown Ulaanbaatar (Ulan Bator?) ..

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Panning to my right .. We see the primary view that I was after ..

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I used my Nikon L29 Coolpix’s telephoto capability to pull the station in a bit closer for us .. He did a fine job of it! These two photos look almost due East ..

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Now panning again to my right .. Some of you were beginning to believe that we never have sun here ..

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Then I turned myself around 180-Degrees and shot a photo looking West. There is no doubt-about-it .. Ulaanbaatar is a working man’s city ..

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And then will you all look what I spied in the railway station on my way out ..

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An entirely different color and design of these coaches .. The windows open so it must NOT be air conditioned ..

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I went back to my lady in the Station Master’s Office and asked her about these cars. She said .. “Oh that is a tourist train up from Beijing China.” .. I said .. She said .. “The train has twenty-five (25) coaches.” .. I just quietly gasped. In India the maximum is eighteen (18) coaches. Train stations have to be designed to accomodate trains of a given maximum length.

There you have it .. All you may never have wanted to know about Ulaanbaatar’s Railway Station and the Mongolian Railway.

NEXT TUESDAY AUGUST THE 11th .. I can hardly wait to take a train ride on the TRANS-MONGOLIAN / SIBERIAN EXPRESS !

Truly I Am Blessed .. IF I had not gone to the Ulaanbaatar Railway Station on Tuesday at the specific time I went I would probably NEVER have made this important-to-me connection to the Trans-Mongolian / Siberian Express ..

Cap .. aka Kanbaatar my adopted Mongolian name ..

THANK YOU PATTI FOR HELPING ME PROOF-READ THIS POST ..

6 thoughts on “AUG 6, 15 .. THE MONGOLIAN RAILWAY .. PART 1

  1. zilla

    Friday, August 7, 2015 – 11:30 am – So Cal

    Hi Cap,

    Great story and pictures of maps, roads, train stations and a very enjoyable walk with you from your apartment to the station! And of course to the travel agency. Really nifty!

    Since I am a detailed guy like you, your walk, photos and narrative is really just like I am walking along! Since Claudia and I live in lovely sunny California, your photos in the “sun” are very nice – those clouds and rainy days remain me of our days in Germany where we did have a lot of overcast, low hanging clouds for days! I remember one time in Germany where it was overcast, low clouds, rainy and some drizzle over a 14 month period! We did have a summer that year and it lasted for about 4 weeks. I guess that is why I love the sunny weather in California!

    Looking forward to your next trip on the Trans-Mongolia-Siberian Express!

    Regarding all the “lakes” you encounter as you do your daily walks, etc, do you happen to wear rubber boots; or do you just get wet feet and suffer a little?

    Did I mention, your pictures are really nifty!!

    Zilla

    1. cap chastain

      ‘Zilla I have two options for footwear in the rain. My running shoes and my Nike (basically they really are like) shower shoes. I do not like to get my running shoes and my orthotics wet. So IF it is really bad I wear my Nike shower shoes. The problem with them is they do NOT protect my toes on buses and give me absolutely NO support for my ankles and knees. It is a problem as to what-to-do. Sometimes I carry the shower shoes in my back pack when rain is threatening and do a change from one to the other.

      I never go into the lakes because they have seriously dangerous pot holes under the water in them. Thanks always for your interest .. Wildflecken and the 7th Army Training center was famous for cloud cover! Smiles ..

    1. CAP CHASTAIN

      No Linda .. The ticket is one way only up to Sukhbaatar. I will then get another ticket for the return to Ulaanbaatar. It is a six plus hour trip. In the US I can and I do travel from Detroit to Chicago on AMTRAK for far less money but on this train I have a first class berth that probably comes with a bed to lie down upon. On AMTRAK a bed causes an enormous increase in fare. Thanks for your interest Linda. My GER educational post card to you should be arriving shortly.

  2. Patti

    This post covers basically two days … feels like it should have taken you two weeks to cover this much. Thank goodness for your gracious “helpers” there. It is pretty exciting, the train trip you now have planned. Can’t wait for the post about the actual train trip! Hugs from your proof-reading helper, Patti

    1. Cap Chastain Post author

      It took me longer to put up the Post than the actual time I spent living the story. I think of Gullible and of her India Journals. Without my “helpers” I could not be doing this. Starting with Deegi who contacted Happy who provided me with this outstanding apartment and this Dell Desktop with a great broadband internet connection .. right here IN my room and continuing with all that Changer has done for me. Again as always .. Thank You for your proof-reading assistance .. Love .. Cap ..

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