As I zigzagged through the Disney-esque immigration line marked “Foreigners” I thought with a smile I’m in China. A country which for some reason has never made it on my must see list. If it wasn’t for my desire to ride the Trans-Siberian Railway, I am not sure I’d ever get around to visiting Beijing.
It was no surprise that Beijing was a big crowded yet very clean city. I saw the sights that in picture form always accompany articles where the words China and travel are found in the same sentence: The Forbidden City, The Great Wall of China and an acrobatics show. Each was much more impressive in person than in print. And of course I went to Tiananmen Square, a place my guide left recent history out of his lecture on all the important events that took place in the square.
After a few days of sightseeing, sampling the local cuisine and elbowing my way onto the user friendly subway I was ready for what I expect to be the highlight of this trip, Mongolia.
The modern Beijing train station is where I embarked on the first leg of my journey by boarding the Trans-Mongolian Railway. The trip was to take about 26 hours before arriving in Ulan Bator.
The sun was just above the horizon when the train stopped at the first platform of the new day. All the passengers were still in their berths. I assume they were asleep; about 6 hours before we went through an eventful border crossing that entailed more than just a passport and visa check. The wheels on the train needed to be changed because in Russian the railroad line is wider than the tracks that took us through China. After three hours at the border we finally left China in the dust, literally.
The platform where I am now standing was the beginning of this adventure to the country I have been anxious enough to wake up early. Alone I stood watching the sunrise over Mongolia.