2-3 March, Train 263 and Irkutsk

Train 263 to Irkutsk was very different to our previous train but just as comfortable. This time we had a four-berth cabin to ourselves, but no private bathroom. On the train we had our first encounter with the Russian language but were not yet prepared with any phrases to talk to the provodnitsa. It took a while for everyone to get themselves and their luggage on the train. Some passengers were carrying not only their bags but also boxes of other things that they struggled to fit into the small luggage compartments. Once everyone had finally boarded we were on …

28 February – 1 March, Ulaanbaatar

As expected, the first thing that hit us as we stepped off the train was the temperature: -16°C. Wearing a jacket, thermals, thick pants, a woolen jumper, a scarf and a beanie, I was almost over-prepared and quickly realised that it wasn’t the cold itself that would get to me but the sweat from overheating, which rapidly turned cold. Despite the temperature, the sun was shining, the sky was blue and there was no breeze whatsoever so it wasn’t as unpleasant as we were expecting and was instantly refreshing after being in a stuffy train carriage.

26-27 February, Train K23 Beijing to Ulaanbaatar

We woke at 5.30am and peered outside at the snow-covered ground, on Beijing’s second day of snow for the winter. Down at the hotel lobby, with no taxis in sight, we tried to explain that we had booked a taxi the night before however our plea for assistance was met with deaf ears as we were told “it’s too early for taxis” and “that’s your problem”. Although we had left plenty of time to get to the station we both started to panic a little after waiting around for 15 minutes. The porter went out onto the road in the …