Asia 2008 - Facts and Information
Day by Day 1: Siberia and Mongolia
The end results of the trip

What we did and when we did it

ASIA INDEX 2008

SIBERIA INDEX
 Irkutsk Streets
 Irkutsk Churches
 Taltsy Museum
 Listvyanka
 Circum-Baikal Rlwy
 Trans-Mongolian Rlwy

MONGOLIA INDEX
 Ulaan Baatar
 Choijin Lama Temples
 Bogd Khan Palace
 Gandan Monastery
 Terelj National Park
 Khustai National Park

CHINA INDEX
Beijing Index
 First Impressions
 Forbidden City
 Temple of Heaven
 Beihai Park
 Confucius Temple
 Lama Temple
 Jinshang Park
 Great Wall

Pingyao Index
 First Impressions
 Pingyao Sights
 Rule of Law
 Walls and Beyond

Xi'an Index
 Walls & Streets
 Muslim Quarter
 Xi'an at Night
 Shaanxi Museum
 Forest of Steles
 Banpo Neolithic Vill
 Famen & Qian Ling
 Terracotta Army
 Terracotta Army Mus

Lanzhou Index
 Lanzhou - General
 Binglin Si Grottoes
 Kumbum & Xining
 Qu Tan Monastery

Along Silk Road Index
 Wuwei & Zhangye
 Matisi Grottoes
 Wenshu
 Jiayuguan

Dunhuang Index
 Dunhuang & Mogao
 Yumen Gate & Ya Dan

Turpan Index
 Turpan & Emin Minaret
 Jiaohe
 Tuyaq & Gaochang

Kashgar Index
 Train Turpan-Kashgar
 Kashgar
 Karakoram Highway
 Awat Market

KYRGYZSTAN INDEX
 Torugart Pass to Naryn
 Naryn to Karakol
 Karakol
 Jeti Oghuz Valley
 Karakol to Bishkek

FACTS/INFO INDEX

 

27 April
Left Bath Road Premier Inn for the one minute drive to Q Park (drop and pick up under cover), then the tedium of waiting, flying, waiting, flying. Everything more or less to time, Immigration at DME quiet and fast unlike last time there. Overnight flight

28 April
Arrived Irkutsk on a cold (-2°), grey morning. Terminal being rebuilt so processed in a shed. Spent morning exploring town, cathedral, central market but got snowed/rained off. Hotel Victory, Irkutsk

29 April
Still cold and grey at Taltsy Museum which we found interesting and guide knowledgeable. Would have liked longer there but guide pushing and (even though well wrapped up) we were very cold so didn't argue. Went to Baikal Market which was waste of time. Weather improving, wandered around Listvyanka and up to church. Baikalski Terema, Listvyanka

30 April
Overcast, warmer. Eleanor had to stay in. Michael bounced into going unwillingly into Limnological Museum which - to be fair - was quite interesting. Went up to Cherski Peak on chairlift, a bit underwhelming especially as viewpoints not accessible due to tick risk. Sun came out, nice afternoon. Walked to church and back with guide. Guide recently into Orthodox church so she very busy doing whatever in the church, but to be honest it was so nice in there in the sun Michael was quite happy for her to get on with doing her thing. Later Eleanor recovered so went back to church and around. Baikalski Terema, Listvyanka

1 May
Snow. Car to ferry, quite tricky to board as very slippery. Stock on Circum-Baikal Railway was modern railcar with party of locals on jolly (got jollier as the vodka flowed). Misty and Baikal frozen, very atmospheric. Several stops with little walks, one long stop halfway with chance to explore village. Interesting run although a rather long day. Hotel Victory, Irkutsk

2 May
Nice day. Morning wandering in city. Afternoon to the Angara icebreaker (a first for our guide), Zhamnesky Monastery (Moscow choir there, very good), Cathedral and the Decembrists' Houses (interesting). Hotel Victory, Irkutsk

3 May - TransMongolian train
Depart 0543 Irkutsk time. Train journey interesting, especially along Baikal shore on a lovely day, also in higher land towards border. Saw fewer hawkers on stations than expected. Border crossing as expected, slow and tedious (see description on later page). At some point someone came round with Mongolian currency so we changed our few remaining roubles, probably got ripped off but was worth it to get a bit of cash for Ulaan Bataar. Night on train

4 May
Run through Mongolia at dawn very atmospheric. Arrived UB 0730, cold but hot in sun. Wandered round centre and succumbed to blandishments of two art students in the square. Excursion to Bogd Khaan was good, had also said we wanted to go to Choijin Lama Temple which we did next, worthwhile. Ulaan Baatar Hotel, Ulaan Baatar

5 May
Day in Terelj. Ger camps not as intrusive as feared as plenty of other things to look at, scenically very good. Drove up to Terelj Town (dump) then back down a bit to spend several hours walking along sides of valley parallel to road. Very good day, plenty of wildlife. Ulaan Baatar Hotel, Ulaan Baatar

6 May
Light snow/damp/horrible. Change of plan to do Gandan Monastery first today as was monthly ceremony (interesting). Drive to Khustai Nuruu across steppe (literally as tarmac road being rebuilt/driver preferred steppe to dirt road) interesting with slight snow cover. Into camp back way via sand dunes, dry by now, good run. Lunch then trip with local guide to see Takhii horses, several herds around. With hindsight would have cut this short as then went for walk on our own up ridge to west of camp on beautiful evening and would have liked longer than we had. Khustai Ger Camp

7 May
Beautiful day, said pants to UB City Tour and gave staff morning off. Went up ridge to east for about four hours, very good easy walking. Drove south through park, taken into nomad family ger where lunch was cooked for us (intriguing process - sheep ribs and noodles). Vultures, hoopoes, eagles, hawks. Taken to see old locos at station. Ulaan Baatar Hotel, Ulaan Baatar

8 May - TransMongolian train
Train to Beijing at 0805. First part of run more interesting. Distinctly underwhelmed by Gobi, had known it would be monotonous but had not expected it to be quite so scruffy/scrubby. Fine dust obviously coming in through every crack in coach. Border crossing OK but tedious, no one allowed off train. Run into China interesting in terms of landscape and also land use. Night on train

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