In Part 1 of this set of two posts I showed you the Sukhbaatar Railway Station and neighboring environs as well as my hotel.
In Part 2 we are going to ride the local Mongolian train South from Sukhbaatar to Ulaanbaatar. The top left balloon in the map below points to the International Border between Russia (North) and Mongolia (South). The other balloons point to Sukhbaatar and Ulaanbaatar the cities between which I traveled.
Please note: In this post I am NOT going to focus on Mongolian scenery. I have published several posts that have included extensive photographic coverage of the Mongolian countryside. My focus will be on the train itself and especially on some of the thirty nine (39) small ‘whistle stops’ and what I am calling ‘formal-stops’ in the larger cities. Having written this you ARE going to see the scenery around the ‘whistle-stops’ for sure and much of this ‘whistle-stop’ scenery will NOT be as magnificent and as beautiful as the scenery that I published in my other posts.
Here we go. My ticket was for First Class accommodations. On this local Mongolian train that meant that four (4) people could occupy the cabin. Further we all could lie down in our own individual berths (two uppers and two lowers) should we so wish. Based upon my experience traveling by train in India .. On this local train a cabin similar to the one I occupied could seat up to eight (8) people comfortably and be rated as a Second Class berth.
My ticket was simple and straight forward.
All Aboard at 6:30am or 0630 Hours. It was still quite dark outside and my flash did not carry too far but you all get-the-idea.
Later in the day I took the below photo.
My cabin .. Very basic and cleanly efficient. As you can see it was the dark of early morning through the window.
I have included the below photo to show you the difference between First Class (above) on this the local Mongolian train and First Class (below) on the Trans-Mongolian / Siberan Express train that I rode North to Sukhbaatar from Ulaanbaatar.
I paid the price (US $ 125.00 vs US $ 12.88 on the local train) ten-times-as-much for the above truly First Class accommodations.
There was ample bedding in the upper bunk to service four passengers.
A NIFTY package of clean sheets a towel and a pillow case. I do not know this for sure because I did not open the package but this is what such a package usually contains.
On the normal Indian train .. exactly 3 out of each 4 toilets are of the squatter-type. Each and every single toilet that I saw on both the local Mongolian train and on the Trans-Mongolian Express were of the Western Style. I went looking specifically for this feature. I did not look in all twenty five (25) coaches but I did a good representative sampling. One of the most horrible things imaginable is to have to use a squatter on a train. I am speaking from actual experience. The Indians will occupy the Western Style toilets and ‘squat’ with their shoes on the toilet seats and thus prevent those of us who have difficulty squatting from using the 1 toilet in 4 we are most comfortable using. Do you want an .. “I could KILL YOU thought.” .. Face this situation on an Indian train when one-of-them .. who was born squatting .. comes out of YOUR Western style facility and YOUR seat is wet from their shoes that are wet from the floor of an Indian train toilet.
Have I said that I absolutely love the Mongolian railway logo!!
The first seven (7) or so hours of this train trip were so perfect that I can state absolutely unequivocally that ..
IT WAS THE BEST TRAIN TRIP THAT I HAVE EVER IN ALL OF MY LIFE ENJOYED.
I was all alone by myself in my compartment. I talked to Patti till I had to stop because Patti finally needed to go-to-bed and I was running low on the battery capacity on my cell phone. I did not want to get into charging it on the train because you can have vicious power-surges on a train. Several years ago on a train in India a power-surge destroyed my CPAP breathing machine. This being said I did re-charge my cell phone on the Trans-Mongolian Express when I traveled North to Sukbaatar so ‘go figure.’
The train ran very slowly because we made thirty (39) stops during our approximately 235-mile journey. During each stop the train was stationary and not moving at all. Plus our slow rate of speed meant that the train was NOT swaying violently from side-to-side as a fast moving express train will do. With a 25-coach-long train you don’t want to have to be continually bringing it to a stop from a high-rate-of-speed.
As a result of these factors .. I was able to totally relax with my post cards and I calmly wrote a good many to YOU .
On the seat on the right in the above photo was an actual listing of each and of every single stop on the route.
What happened after the first seven (7) hours Kanbaatar?
I was finally joined very close to the end of the trip by a nursing mother with a four month old and an eight year old. This was just fine with me and I actually enjoyed them. You will see photos of my cabin-mates towards the end of the post. All of you will GIGGLE when I tell you the question that I asked Patti. So look for it towards the bottom of this post.
I had such a good-time-of-it because of .. MY Attitude .. when they joined me it was just fine with me. I actually enjoyed them.
The time has come the Walrus said to begin to show you the ‘whistle-stops’ and the more ‘formal-stops’ that I photographed.
Here we go loop-de-loop .. Here we go loop-de-li .. All on a Thursday train ride in the far North of Mongolia.
You don’t get too much more ‘basic’ than the above ‘whistle-stop’ out here in the middle of nowhere!!
Do you see his name below .. 3HXYan. He is Stop Number 34 (from Ulaanbaatar) and he is 306-Km (North of Ulaanbaatar) ..
Don’t I ever get-into-things!! Who else but .. Robert 94596 .. I don’t think ‘Zilla gets so deeply into such trivia .. ‘Zilla is the World-Thinker .. The Big-Picture-Thinker .. Once in Germany I asked ‘Zilla for some small change in a restaurant. ‘Zilla pulled out an entire-fist-full of change and with great aplomb gave me about ten dollars worth of Germanic coins. ” ‘Zilla” I said .. “I needed a dimes worth of change.”
Pretty down-and-dirty very basic and real scenery ..
Does the name below look even slightly familiar to any of you?
Man alive I don’t believe it .. DARKHAN ..
We are in Darkhan (Дархан) .. the third largest city in all of Mongolia. The Дархан station was certainly less-than-spectacular. I wonder how many of you realize the work-around it was for me to be able to capture and to print Darkhan’s name in Mongolian .. Дархан ..
On October 17, 1961, the city of Darkhan was built with extensive economic assistance from the Soviet Union. As its name implies, the city was originally conceived to be a manufacturing site for Mongolia’s northern territory. The city remains a mostly industrial region and is the home of some 82% of Darkhan-Uul Province’s population. As with most urban Mongols, some 86% of the city’s population live in residential apartments, with the remaining population living in gers on the outskirts of the city. The city is relatively close to Russia and retains a fairly small percentage of native Russians.
OK .. OK .. I promised not to get too deeply into this post .. You get the idea. Andrej I did a NIFTY work-around to pull the above off and not get the program here messed up with the Wikipedia coding. After now over one thousand (1,000) posts and still counting maybe I am learning some little tricks here.
Do any of you need to smile. Just look if you will at the below photos and what came aboard at Darkhan (Дархан)!!
Obviously she was hauling this absolutely enormous inventory of food back to her (probably) tiny little village.
I saw the shopping cart in the aisle as I was going to the rest room. Then I looked inside of her cabin. I made a mental note and quickly shot these two photos a few minutes later before she shut the door which she did shortly thereafter. Here we go loop-de-loop .. Here we go loop-de-li .. Darkhan goes into the rear-view mirror ..
This ‘whistle-stop’ was so basic I never saw a station. Do you all realize that these twenty five (25) coach-long trains are in the vicinity of 0.45 miles in length. In this pair of photos you cannot see either end of the train.
Today’s Kanbaatar trivia : Each coach is 33-34 of my paces in length. Each of my paces is approximately 2.7-feet. So 25 coaches at 90.5 feet-in-length plus the locomotives and you get my estimate of 0.45-miles in length.
Translation – These trains are just about one-half a mile in length.
Check the below 25-coach train sitting in the station in Ulaanbaatar. This is the train I paced-off the coach lengths.
Looking to the East (above) and to the West (below) .. You cannot see either end.
I stood upon the overpass ..
Rhetorical Question : Do you know that people actually ask Patti .. “What does Cap DO all day.”
And I counted the coaches in the below train as they were slowly being pulled into the Ulaanbaatar station .. Looking to the West below ..
Just in case you missed today’s Rhetorical Question .. Once more for laughs ..
Rhetorical Question : Do you know that people actually ask Patti .. “What does Cap DO all day.”
Looking to the East .. Do you all see the Ulaanbaatar railway station on the left ..
Patti just rolls-her-eyes and smiles inwardly to herself KNOWING IF she told the truth no one would believe her!!
“Oh Cap goes down to the train station and counts the number of coaches on the trains and then calculates the approximate length of the trains.”
“Dad .. I am not a ‘whistle-stop’ BUT I sure would like my picture taken Dad.”
Man alive ..
Talk about a pair of bare-bones-basic ‘whistle-stop’ stations ..
I wonder what .. IF anything .. is inside of them ..
Another more ‘formal-stop’ as I call the stops that are really significantly larger that the truly tiny ones ..
I caught a bit more-of-the-station as we rolled South ever South for Ulaanbaatar ..
What a name .. bAPYYH XAPAA .. Stop Number 24 and we now have 201-Km to go ..
Cute little fellow .. Sweet .. The ‘station’ looks like someone’s home doesn’t it?
b3PX .. Station Number 22 and we have 181-Km to go .. I may never in this lifetime see you again .. b3PX!!
Now for the largest station and the busiest stop by far on the entire trip South .. I mean-to-tell-you-all people were flying around like crazy and in large numbers ..
I welcomed the chance to really stretch-out and to get up-close-and-personal with the crowd ..
I really made sure to know where I was ..
“Well Kanbaatar where exactly were you?” .. “I was in Station Number 21 and I was now 171-Km from Ulaanbaatar.” ..It most certainly is very prominent on the map of Mongolia ..
WHICH BALLOON IS IT YOU ASK ME ‘ZILLA .. THERE IS ONLY ONE BALLOON MY FRIEND ..
No end-in-sight in either direction .. Fascinating to me ..
By far the busiest station we stopped at .. The lady with the pony-tail and blue top is a conductor ..
These folks queued up nicely in an orderly line ..
It was getting very close to departure time ..
Spiffy and sharp conductors .. Just focus on her uniform .. Sorry I caught her in an odd expression ..
We are back-underway. Below is yet another ‘classic’ .. tiny ‘whistle-stop’ station ..
A random view of the countryside .. after we pulled away from the above station ..
Suddenly .. I had company. I am not able to tell you where and when they got on. I had the door on my cabin securely locked. The conductor opened it up and looked in. She left leaving the door open. Shortly in came my company. I actually feel that the conductor selected me as a very safe-haven for the lady and her children because of my age and stability.
I simply cannot over emphasize how very much I like the people here in Mongolia. What is more priceless than a positively happy and beaming mother with her child.
The 8-year-old shown below was camped-out in the upper berth and he was also absolutely priceless. These kind and gentle folks have such good dispositions ..
And he was just wonderful with the baby .. I am not sure I would leave the infant with the 8-year-old in the upper berth because the baby could suddenly twist away from him in the twinkling-of-an-eye. I will admit the 8-year-old seemed to have a very firm hold on the infant.
Not to worry Mom had him back down pretty quickly ..
I asked Patti a question and Patti immediately said yes .. “When one runs dry the infant immediately knows to go to the other.” At age 78 I did not know that fact of life. Fascinating .. right there in front of me. Amazing!! Will someone tell me exactly what intelligence tells an infant to do this? We are born instantly looking for a meal and seemingly knowing where to go to have that meal!!
Continuing South to Ulaanbaatar .. I was fascinated with these ‘whistle-stop’ stations ..
Below is Station Number 3 and we are now just 33-Km from Ulaanbaatar ..
We continue to roll South .. I loved having my complete list with the names of each and of every single stop we made .. This is Station Number 2 and we are now just 24-Km from being home-in-Ulaanbaatar Mongolia!!
You can plainly see below by the houses past the small station that we are indeed coming into the Ulaanbaatar Metro Area ..
SUDDENLY .. AFTER NINE HOURS .. WE ARE THERE ..
AMAZING .. WE WERE DUE-IN AT 3:30pm .. Will all of you just look-at-the clock in these two photos!
I walked back to my apartment .. It took forty (40) minutes .. I talked with Patti on my cell phone all-the-way home to my apartment. Nice .. Very Nice ..
Below are two of my major land-marks.
We are getting very close ..
MY Super Market ..
MY building .. MY lake and all ..
In we go ..
We ARE indeed home ..
DOES THIS FEEL GREAT !!
Over And Out with Great Joy .. For Now I’ve Nothing More To Say .. Except To Say Once More..
THIS WAS ABSOLUTELY .. WITHOUT A DOUBT .. THE BEST TRAIN TRIP THAT I HAVE EVER .. IN ALL OF MY LIFE .. ENJOYED.
Cap AND Patti ..
- AUG 18, 15 .. A TRAIN RIDE ON THE TRANS-MONGOLIAN EXPRESS ..
- AUG 21, 15 .. PART 1 .. A TRAIN RIDE ON A ‘LOCAL’ MONGOLIAN TRAIN ..