International Train Tour: Eurasia Slow Travel Notes

Beijing – Ulaanbaatar, Moscow, I am on the East Line. Take the K3 international train and drive for about 7,700 kilometers. It crosses the Mongolian Gobi Desert, which is like an alien land, and travels along the Selange River Valley. In the “Blue Eyes of Siberia” – the shores of Lake Baikal, the Eurasian boundary pillars that have passed the eastern foot of the Ural Mountains… The three continents with many elite continents are concentrated in this “mysterious” that runs nearly one armor.

The sense of ritual of train travel

Erlianhot is the only railway port between China and Mongolia and one of the largest railway ports in China. K3 was on the train and I slowly drove out of Erlianhot Station, passing through the brightly lit country gate and entering Mongolia. There is a special sense of ceremonies in the cross-country ride by train, which is not enough to travel by air.

The K3 train was opened on June 4, 1959, passing through China’s Fengsha Railway, Beijing-Baotou Railway, Jiji Railway, Mongolian Longitudinal Railway and Russia’s Siberian Railway, with a total length of 7,692 kilometers. Among them, the Mongolian Longitudinal Railway is an important railway line connecting China, Mongolia and Russia. From Ulan-Ude in Russia via Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia to Wulanchabu Railway in China, most of them are located in Mongolia.

There are many elite landscapes along the K3 train. The trains pass through the morning and evening, which is especially suitable for shooting. For example, the next morning and evening, you can enjoy the Gobi Desert in Mongolia and the forest in the Seige Valley.

The vegetation and people around the railways in Mongolia are extremely rare. Except for the long railroad tracks, there are almost no traces of artificial work. The lonely Gobi Desert feels like being in an alien planet. In the early morning, I walked to the end of the last carriage. From here, I could photograph the long railroad track extending far away and the train on the majestic red Gobi. It was very dramatic.

At noon, the green outside the window gradually increased, indicating that the train is gradually approaching Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. Two hours before arriving at Ulaanbaatar station, the train quickly descended to the Tula Valley along a series of exhibition lines (train Panshan Road), after passing dozens of corners, like a roller coaster, accompanied by us in summer Mongolia The blue sky and white clouds of the grasslands and the wildflowers of the mountains are like a picture.

Mongolian night and night

Ulaanbaatar is a fantasy city where the East and West cultures collide and symbiosis. The last traces of the Central Plains dynasty are left here, continuing the incense of Tibetan Buddhism and also having a modern Western flavor.

Genghis Khan Square is the symbol of Ulaanbaatar’s modern architecture. The center stands the statue of Sukhbaatar (1893-1923), which dominated the Mongolian independence. The background is the highest office building in Ulaanbaatar, in the blue sky and summer. It can be seen in any location.

Ganden Monastery, a ten-minute drive from Genghis Khan Square, is the representative of the ancient architecture of Ulaanbaatar. This Tibetan Buddhist temple is the same as the temple of the same name on the outskirts of Lhasa, Tibet, China. It is a collection of religious buildings.

The main hall of Ganden Monastery is a tall and majestic single building, often appearing in various tourist promotional materials in Ulaanbaatar.

The building structure and interior are incredibly beautiful. The temple is dedicated to the Guanyin image reconstructed in the 1990s, and the incense is very prosperous.

Bogda Khan Palace is the largest ancient architectural complex in Ulaanbaatar. It was built in 1893 and was once a place for Tibetan Buddhism living Buddha Zhebundamba to live and carry out religious activities. It has been turned into a museum. The palace has a typical traditional Chinese architectural style, and at the same time incorporates the architectural elements of the Mongolian and Manchu, and still stands out in the surrounding modern buildings.

Located in the south side of Genghis Khan Square, Xingren Temple, together with Ganden Temple and Bogda Khan Palace, is known as the three ancient Chinese buildings in Ulaanbaatar. It was built in the 19th century, with pillars, fins, arches, ceilings… …is the style of pure Chinese traditional architecture that I am familiar with. The color paintings are also the original Chinese stories of “Journey to the West” and the mother-in-law tattoo.

At dusk, Genghis Khan Square became a paradise for the citizens to play. Children ride on small squares on the square, and Chinese songs are placed in the small speakers on the car. Ulaanbaatar’s summer nights have a fascinating blue color, like the famous Mongolian song:

The breeze blew in the cool, quiet land exuding fragrance

Street lights ignite the evening of the city, people who meet are intoxicated

The night in Ulaanbaatar is so quiet, the lovers of the retreat are so romantic.

The Selang Valley is another highlight of the K3 train in Mongolia after Ulaanbaatar. The Selange River is the mother river of Mongolia. It runs through most of Mongolia and eventually flows north into Lake Baikal. The valleys are full of forests and meadows, and the scenery is beautiful. To the north is the alluvial plain of Seongge, and the water and grass are abundant. Here you can see groups of cattle and sheep grazing on both sides of the railway line.

After a long day on the Mongolian Longitudinal Railway, at 10:00 pm, the train arrived at Sukhbaatar, the Mongolian-Russian border station, and crossed the Mongolian-Russian border at midnight to enter the Siberian region of Hungry Ross.

Kneeling on the shore of Lake Baikal

The morning trip was a bit boring, and I was sleepy until I couldn’t get into the sight of the endless blue. Baikal arrived.

The weather is fine, Baikal is like a blue canvas with no margins spread in front of the window, or there are one or two beautifully shaped lone trees passing by, water and sky, green grass, gravel beach by the lake, full crown This minimalist combination gives people a sense of transcendence.

The train traveled for 4 hours on the shores of Lake Baikal. From the map, this journey is only a fragment of the understatement of Lake Baikal, which is about 2,000 kilometers long and 3,500 square kilometers. Located at the southwest corner of Lake Baikal

The town of Sliujiangka is one of the shortest stops on the K3 train, but its marble station is the most beautiful of the 35 stations along the way. This station has a quaint stone façade and a green roof. It is a fairy tale color and has been described as “excessively gorgeous” by well-known travel guides. Although the stay time is only two minutes, it is enough to be memorable.

After the train sailed out of the Siliujiang card, it quickly reached a fork. A railroad tracked northwest and went straight to the shore of the lake. This is the famous Baikal Lake Railway. This railway is the old line of the Siberian Railway built more than 100 years ago. It is more than 80 kilometers long from the Sliujiangka 2 station to the Baikal port at the Angara estuary. Because of the construction of the Angara Reservoir, the section from Irkutsk to Baikal was flooded, and the remaining part was opened up as a tourist route around the lake. It travels along the lakeshore, usually eight hours in the middle, and six stops in the middle. Seven small stations, each station stays for about an hour, enough to get off to the lake and the village next to it.

The trains on this tour line generally have only a few cars and no dining cars. After passing many bridges and tunnels along the way, I was fortunate enough to catch up with the operation of the steam locomotive tow the lake train. This kind of traction is only two days a week, which is hard to see in China.

The end of the train around the lake is the port of Baikal. I took the ferry across the Angara estuary and came to the small town of Listvyanka on the other side of the river. Just an hour’s drive from Irkutsk, it is the back garden of the Irkutsk leisure resort. The town’s houses and lodges are mainly built along the shores of Lake Baikal and the surrounding valleys. There are several ferries to the surrounding small villages, and in the summer there are water-tourism routes that can be rafted on Lake Baikal. There are some fish markets along the shores of Lake Baikal. The grilled fish is delicious and fleshy. It is the most famous snack in town. Baikal is famous for its wind and waves. When the sun sets, watching the scene of the waves, people have the illusion of being at the beach.

Irkutsk on the shores of Lake Baikal is the largest industrial city in Siberia. It is not as sturdy as Moscow, nor as luxurious as St. Petersburg. It represents Siberia and is an unspoiled city.

Known as the “heart of Lake Baikal”, Olkhon Island is the largest island in the lake and a deephold for visiting Lake Baikal. The distance from the city of Irkutsk to Lake Baikal is far away, and the road conditions are poor. It takes a day to go one way, but the magnificent scenery is worth a long journey.

The tour routes of Olkhon Island mainly include the North Line, the South Line and the East Line. The northern line is the main line of the summer and autumn season, covering many classic attractions and the Cape Khoboy at the northern end of Olkhon Island. In the autumn, the island’s larch is golden, with blue water and blue sky, forming a classic Siberian landscape painting. The South Line is suitable for winter ice on the lake and you can visit the famous blue ice cave of Lake Baikal. There is a walking route on the east line, which can deeply experience the ecological beauty of the island’s flora and fauna. Khuzhir is a common starting point for various excursions, and is close to the famous landmark Samantha on the island of Lake Baikal.

The Chinese have a constant love for Baikal, from the North Sea of ​​Suwu Shepherd, to the war between Ming Hongwu and the North Yuan in the fishing sea, and then to Kangxi, finally giving up Baikal, the history behind this world-famous deep-water lake People feel that there are five miscellaneous. Although the Beihai of Suwu Shepherd is still doubtful in the Baikal Lake, it does not hinder the wave of Chinese tourists’ longing for Baikal. The significance of this lake is not only a rich historical relic, it is also a treasure trove of scientific investigation. The Baikal seal is the only freshwater seal in the world. As for why this marine life will appear here, it is still an unsolved mystery.

Left Asia, right Europe

I took the K3 train again, and the Asian part has already entered the countdown. We are about to approach the Ural Mountains in Europe.

The Eurasian boundary pillar is located at the 1777 km milestone of the Siberian Railway, on the left side of the train’s direction, marked in Russian: left Asia, right Europe.

Less than a day from the end of Moscow, I went to the dining car to enjoy the last dinner on the trip. The K3 trains are all used by the Chinese railways. The Chinese train crews provide services. Only the Mongolian railway dining cars will be temporarily installed in Mongolia. The Russian railway dining cars will be added to Russia. The dining car of the Mongolian Railway features wood carvings. The Russian railway dining car is decorated with Russian national carpets, red curtains and wrought iron products. It is eaten with red cabbage soup, potato roast beef and salt-roasted salmon, looking out the window of the vast plains of Eastern Europe. Don’t have a style in your heart.

The Russian waiters in the dining car are mostly middle-aged women, who are burly and look unsmiling. In Russia, people are not used to smiling at strangers who just met. For this reason, before the 2018 Russia World Cup, the Russian Railways also specially trained trainers how to “smile service.” A dish was served on the table. I thanked the waiter in the early Russian language. She gave a cheerful scream and soon we could communicate like an old friend. This is the typical Russian-style communication method, which is cold outside.

My trip is nearing the end, but for the Chinese trainers, this is only half of the journey. After a day in Moscow, they will start K4 international trains back to Beijing at midnight. It will take half a month to come back.

Draw a perfect period in the classic city

The zero-kilometer monument of the Siberian Railway is set up between stations 3 and 4 of the Yaros Gaffl station in Moscow. K3 international trains arrived at the end. Moscow and St. Petersburg are the Russian version of the “Tale of Two Cities”, and they are also the last two stops of my trip.

The main attractions of Moscow are relatively concentrated. The Kremlin, Red Square, Vasily Ascension Cathedral, National Department Store (Gum) National History Museum… are basically within a two-kilometer radius and can be reached on foot.

Red Square and the Kremlin are the first stops for almost all visitors to Russia. The Kremlin means “inner city” or “fortress” in Russian. In this way, there are hundreds of Kremlin in Russia. It is just that Moscow is so famous that it has become a symbol of the Russian state and government.

The Kremlin is a “city pool” that can operate independently. The core functions of the city walls, gates, palaces, churches, royal gardens, and plazas are all available, with all the facilities that support the operation of the entire national central organization. The Ivan the Great Bell Tower, the Twelve Apostles Church, the Church of the Assumption, the Church of the Annunciation, the Church of St. Michael, and the Armory (Jumbo Pavilion), Diamond Pavilion, Russian Imperial Garden, Ivan A series of monuments and museums, such as the Great Bell King, are just a part of the Kremlin’s many buildings. They are the epitome of Russia’s past and present, and the most representative of Russia’s traditional culture in Moscow.

The National Department Store (Gum) on the other side of Red Square is the most famous shopping center in Russia. Apart from its long history, excellent location and rich brand, the interior is decorated with gorgeous Russian features.

Apart from the Red Square and the Kremlin, there are still some places in Moscow that are worth taking a special trip. The New Saints Cemetery is the essence of it.

In many western countries, the cemetery is not only a place where the deceased sleeps, but also contains many cultural symbols and is a precious historical heritage. Most of the people who have been sleeping in the New Saints’ Cemetery are famous people in the fields of politics, economy, science and technology, culture and art. Pushkin, Gogol, Chekhov, Zoya, A. Tolstoy, Khrushchev, and Pollev, Ulanova, Yeltsin… Walking on the path of the cemetery, you can inadvertently find a statue of a celebrity familiar to the student era. In addition, many cemeteries can also be said to be the gathering place of sculpture art.

Compared with the image of Moscow’s modern international city, St. Petersburg retains more of the cultural heritage of modern Russia. In the history of St. Petersburg, it has long been the capital of the Russian Empire. The famous emperors such as Peter the Great and Catherine II have been operating here for many years, leaving a rich legacy to this historic capital on the Gulf of Finland.

Located in the Peterhof Palace on the Gulf of Finland, it is a suburban park chosen by Peter the Great. Peter’s broad vision has brought a new revolution to Russia, and his personal interest in machinery and the modern chemical industry has made Peterhof a fountain of craftsmanship. From May to October every year, the fountain of the Summer Palace will open at 11:00 am every day. The start of the large fountain on the central axis is particularly grand. Almost all the tourists will gather around, the music will ring, and the workers will open the switch, as if they had opened A grand fireworks show. The Summer Palace garden is planted with a large number of larch trees, many squirrels are born, they are very strong, and they are not afraid of tourists. They spend 20 rubles to buy a nut specially used to feed squirrels. These elves can play with people. long time.

Ekaterina Palace is positioned like Beijing’s Summer Palace and Yuanmingyuan. It has both an official residence for the Queen’s residence and government affairs, as well as a garden for leisure. Due to the proximity of the Gulf of Finland, the ocean climate brings weather. The change of light and shadow also adds a lot to this royal garden. The classic route of the garden is a week around the lake, where you can see many architectural pieces. This garden reflects the typical gardening techniques of the West. Unlike the Chinese gardens that are subtle, the Western-style gardens emphasize a geometrical regulation and momentum. Standing at one end of the garden, you can even see the pavilion one kilometer away.

K3 international train travel tips

Best travel time

It is best to choose summer (early June to late August), followed by autumn (September to early October). Springs along the way are ridiculous, covered with snow in winter, difficult to see and shoot, while the summer and autumn are rich in natural colors and human landscapes. Of course, if the target is the blue ice of Lake Baikal and the white wilderness of Siberia, you can choose to go in February and March, which is also a unique experience.

visa

Free travel must first apply for a Russian tourist visa, and then apply for a Mongolian transit visa with a ticket and a Russian visa.

ticket

It can be purchased at the China Travel Ticket Office on the first floor of Beijing International Hotel. If you need to travel in sections, you can purchase tickets for Beijing Erlianhot, Erlianhot-Ulaanbaatar, Ulaanbaatar-Irkutsk and Russia. The official website of the Russian Railways can purchase domestic tickets.

Daily necessities

Have your personal toiletries ready. In the Mongolian and Russian food carts, the local special diet of shit is available. If you are not used to eating, you can prepare a small amount of food in advance.