Route details for Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia to Irkutsk, Russia
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We bought our tickets through our hostel and went for second class seats again. We got the tickets at cost price as we had booked a steps tour with the same hostel. This time we were on train 005 it was not as nice as the train from Beijing to Ulaan Baatar but still a good standard. There was a decent amount of room, space for luggage, hot water and an ok toilet. Most of our fellow passengers’ were now Russians rather Chinese so we put away the pot noodles and broke open a bottle of Vodka! On our journey we shared our cabin with Mikial one of many vodka loving Russians, who introduced us to the wonders of yak, goat and mutton salami, afterwards he insisted that he should read our palms as he was “married to a gypsy”.
As we left Ulaan Baatar and headed North, it was not long before the land became greener and after a few hours we were at the Russian border, Mikial informed us that he had been held at the border the previous year for a week as he had stayed in Mongolia for longer than his visa allowed. His paperwork was in order this time although he seemed to get more hassle than us. After passport/paperwork checks and even more searching for stow aways, we were on our way again. After a good nights sleep we woke in the morning in time to see the blue waters of Lake Baikal not long before we got to Irkutsk.
From Irkutsk you can head east on the Trans-Siberian train to Vladivostok and the Pacific and continue onto Japan by boat. Or like us you can west to Moscow, Europe and the Atlantic. Although we had a memorable 74hr train ride to Moscow, for us, nothing could beat the Beijing to Irkutsk leg.