Advocating Life; Blessed with Ra'i Hamde.

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Location: Sungai Petani, Malaysia

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Trans-Mongolian

On 6/6/2012, after two nights in the train we finally arrived in Ulaanbataar. We took the train from Irkutsk .. train station at 10:10pm. The station was small, and we had to go down many steps only to discover that we have to climb up more staircases in order to reach the platform. Luckily, although I am an 'iron lady' (haha!) two different strangers felt the need to help me with my heavy luggage. As we reached the platform, the rain started to fall and despite making three rounds back and forth amidst the passengers and the puddles of water we couldnt find our carriage or 'baron'. Each conducter was pointing us to opposite directions and frustrated with our inability to communicate with the Russians (and fearful that the train might leave without us) we were very much relieved when a kindly porter showed us to our carriage, no 8, which was right in the middle of the path we had been going back and forth from, hidden partly by the fact that it was right in front of a small stop-over booth of some kind.

We were pleased that we had the cabin for ourselves, the other two beds being unoccupied. Our joy was however very much short-lived. We discovered to our dismay that there was no restaurant car on that train and we haven't had our dinner.. we had only one packet of maggee left! So we had cereals for dinner that night in the train and hoped for the best for the next day.

The ride was not as smooth as the two trains we took from St Petersburg to Moscow and from Moscow to Kazan, and we did'nt get much sleep. The train stopped at every few minutes, sometimes in the middle of nowhere! It was about to get worse and we didn't know it.. As early as 6 am two Mongols came in to our cabin much to our surprise as we had requested to be in all-females compartment! After some useless effort to explain and demand for the situation to be remedied we gave up and sat on the lower berth not knowing what to do. Russians, as foretold, seemed angry and unfriendly and these two were haughty. Without words to us they placed their things on our beds whilst trying to arrange their things and even sat next to us, .. making me feel suffocated and giving me a headache at the same time from their odor and smell of liquor and beer.. It was a horrible, most unpleasant experience despite that we did finally, throughout the next coming hours communicate a little here and there. My friend had a lot more patience with them and they were sometimes helpful like when explaining about the checking points for customs and immigration.. that is, when they are not brusquely shoving us or our things aside..

The customs and immigrations were a lot of waste of time.. We spent more than half a day waiting for the Russians to process our papers (abs the others' in the same carriage, of course) and to check our cabins, before the Mongols took their turn, though more efficiently.



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