Trans-Mongolian To China Sunday 15th July

Datong Travel Blog

 › entry 13 of 15 › view all entries
Got woken up by the heat. The chiller on the train had been turned off or failed.
The Chinese countryside is so very different from Mongolia’s countryside. Here the humanity is everywhere. There are very old grand empty terraces next to slums small children playing near rubbish heaps and elderly people sitting, in the heat playing cards or smoking. Many people in the fields. A lot of the houses have small, walled gardens with stained glass or decorated gates. There are dragon gates everywhere.
We passed the steel mill near Datong station. This steel mill, had trucks unloading out the back and there were some with their noses in the air whilst men in the tray unload the cargo that is way over the truck’s design limit. I was sorry to have a flat camera battery.
Near Datong station, the Iron Rooster was built until 1989. (The chinese steam locomotive). I was delighted when the train stoped at Datong and I grabbed my copy of Paul Theroux’s Book Iron Rooster and my Bally and we went in search of a place to release the book. Finally we found a shelf in the platform shop and left it there to the amusement of my tour mates. I wonder what the shop keeper thought of it all.
The countryside continues to amaze me. There are picturesque valleys, where you ache to sit on a hill or rock and meditate the surroundings then you pop into a tunnel and arrive into a township filled with people and smog. Pop back into a tunnel and you come out at a dam. David used up a whole 4GB and had to quickly change cards so as to not miss anything. The biggest disappointement is the polution. It reduced visiablilty to only a few meters. It is like photographing through milky glass. The sun is this strange Golden Orb in the sky that is easy to look at directly. I am amazed at how prevalent it is in the country side a few hundred kms out of Beijing. Sad. Very Sad.

The train arrived late into Beijing and there was a screw up with the platforms so the guide was not to be seen. Everyone was bathed in sweat and was unimpressed at having to stand around in this opressive heat. After much nashing of teeth the ‘guide’ with us decided we should get a taxi each to the hotel. How she thought we could communicate to the taxi driver’s I have no idea. David and I didn’thave any Yuan at this stage. As we left the main station buiding, a petite Chinese lady asked if we were with world expiditions. Yes Bob and I cried! Much to our relief. We screamed to the ‘guide’ in front who was not really worried if any of us got lost or not. Why she is here I still wonder. There are many of us who see her as a freeloader as she does nothing as we struggle along alone. Shrug.

Vivan, our guide, is from Inner Mongolia. She is a credit to the tour guide profession. The hotel is OK, very confused for a Business hotel. We asked for a Double room as that is what we paid for. David went on ahead and I stayed at reception to change money. He was furious when he came back down as we had received a twin. Even after being assured that they were double rooms. David Hot, sweaty, tired and fed up lost it and Vivian calmed it all down and got the ‘Tour’ Leader to swap. The sibgle people had taken the double rooms. The other single lady was forced to get a twin as there were three married couples issued the incorrect rooms. Bugger it! You pay for a double, you don’t want a twin. You pay for a single don’t expect the double rooms. A lot of people saw it as a grab by the ‘Tour’ Leader to get herself a nicer room. Hence the thought floating aorund that she is aon a holiday jaunt. She is even leaving early before everyone else so no-one will see us to the airport. Hmmm It will end in tears you mark my words.
David and I took a turn around the block, going left all the time. We discovered trolley buses which raise and lower poles automatically. Amazing! They can run on batteries through the streets without wires and pop the wires up when they arrive in an area with wires. The Russian Trolley buses are 40-50 years old.
The food here is the best. Totally yummy! A new favourite is garlic leaves with meat. Just Fabulous!
Tomorrow is walking to Tian’anmen Sq and the Forbidden city. I only just found out that the Starbucks at the Forbidden city has been forced to close.  I bought an Australian Starbuck’s teddy to do a trade or discount with but alas I will not be able to. Very sad. Teddy has travelled all over Russian and Mongolian to move here but no where to go . I was ONE DAY too late.
Also Livejournal is banned in China. Bummer.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
photo by: Deats