Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mongolian Railway

The Mongolian Railway, also known as the Iron Silk Road is a short link between China and Russia, and part of the Trans-Siberian Corridor.  For fun, I took an overnight train from Ulaanbaatar to Mongolia's second largest city of Erdenet.
Reading signs is impossible but getting a ticket and using the rail is not difficult.  The ticket office is just east of the main train station and a 1st class sleeper car train ticket cost about $22.
The trains are old school soviet style.
This is interesting, below is a Russian Locomotive that was upgraded by GE.  I think the upgrade improved the diesel electric system and reduced annual maintenance cost.... Good job Mongolia!!
People waiting for the train to Erdenet.
The monk waiting for the train happen to be my roommate on the way to Erdenet.  Turns out he was not a monk but a Lama, same religious background as the Dalai Lama.  He was traveling to Erdenet to visit with his family, spoke english too.  Below he is helping me find the room. 
This is your typical first class car on a mongolian train.  Not bad for $22.
Another person traveling on the train but in a different room was this guy.  He was a member of a band calledшар айрагor 'Beer' in English. The rest of the band was in the room next door sleeping, so he stop by to talk fora while.
Below is Dzuunharaa station.  The distance between UB and Erdenet is about the same as the distance between Chicago and Detroit or Tokyo and Nagoya.  But the Mongolian train is slow and stops moving near here for over 2 hours in the middle of the night. The total travel time is about 10 hours.
Still waiting, this is about the time everyone retires.
This is the station at Erdenet.  Most people on the train had someone here waiting for them, including the Lama.
Erdenet is a small city compared to UB and known for being the site of the largest copper mine in asia. The city really feels like a typical stereotype of the formal USSR, you can see images of Lenin everywhere. 
 Below is an abandon school yard.
Number one is the copper mine, but below is the second major attraction in Erdenet, the Friendship Monument.
This was my ride back to UB... Cheap but a little scary!
Quick video

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