Our train was amazing! It looked brand new. It was clean and our cabin had 4 comfy looking pull down beds. We were given clean linen in a bag and there were 2 toilets at the end of our carriage that were clean with running water. We had read that the toilets get locked before reaching a station, but these ones are flushing proper toilets, so were open all the time. We had brought an emergency bottle with us (just in case I couldn’t hold it if the toilet was locked!) but I didn’t need to use it.
We made up our beds and made dinner using the ‘extreme’ camping style dried food that we bought in RC Outfitters in Hong Kong. We also had noodles and a movie on the laptop. The Mongolian train ladies were quite smily and helpful and kept looking in and smiling at me. I gave them some of my sweets and they gave me some of theirs!
We had to leave Mongolia and go through customs, and border control. It was about midnight. The Mongolian side was fine. No trouble. They checked our passports and visas and after a smile, stamp, stamp, stamp all was over. The train had stopped for 2 hours now, so I fell asleep. The train then moved again for about 45mins. I was woken up with a start as the Russian border control got on. They wanted me up to see my face. They made me stand up to kook at me and ask me my name. I then fell back asleep again. After a while, customs came on. They wanted to search our cabin. They didn’t search anybody else’s in our carriage. They made us all leave our cabin and stand outside while they made a but of a mess. After 5 – 10 mins, they let us back in. It was now around 2.30am. The lady looked over all our passports with such intense scrutiny, my mum thought they were finding something wrong, but eventually, we heard the stamp, stamp stamp and we were in!
We fell asleep and woke up to snow…. everywhere!! We saw Lake Baikal for the first time and it went on for miles – completely frozen over!