Trans-Mongolian Visual Adventure

December 3, 2014 Sacha Mlynek

Playing connect-the-dots by rail between Russia, Mongolia, and China is, at the very least, a traveller’s intrigue. Spending days upon days on the same train, getting to know your fellow passengers, and watching the landscape slowly unfold with sunrise to sunset – well those are the memories you take back with you and try to unpack over the coming months.

The hope is that this Visual Adventure explains how travelling the Trans-Mongolian route befits the word ‘journey’ more than it does the word ‘trip’.

St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square is both playful and iconic.

st basils catherdral in moscow

During the summer months, Russia experiences very late sunsets called White Nights. Here in Moscow, it is just after 11:00pm.

sunset in moscow

Travel time on the train between Moscow and Irkutsk is four days. If not for the babushkas selling food on station platforms during short stops, our food would have been far less varied.

babushka on station platform selling bread

Many of the views you see are like this one, on this angle, out the side of a window, and of a station.

train station in russia

After many days on the train, Lake Baikal is a welcome and refreshing stop. Surrounded by myth and Decembrist-style houses, the lake is known for having the largest volume of fresh water in the world.

misty lake baikal

Irkutsk allowed us a glimpse into what a large Siberian city looks like. Filled with families, markets, and shops, it seemed life was moving along here.

Irkutsk streets

In Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaanbaatar, Sükhbaatar Square aims to stake its claim on the city. Walk around long enough and you’ll see in action, the nomadic culture of the Mongolian people, as ger tents line the streets.

Sükhbaatar Square in ulaanbaator

Throughout the Mongolian grasslands called the steppes are these monuments of stacked rocks flanked with flags. Travellers looking for protection are told to walk around three times and place their rock with the others.

traveller prayer rocks

Staying at a ger camp allowed for a direct experience of traditional Mongolian life. Not to be missed are the famous Buuz (Mongolian dumplings).

ger tent

I was prepared for the birch forests of Russia and the never ending vantage points of the steppes in Mongolia, but nothing shocked me more than the verdant green and mist of China.

rural china. green hills

Sometimes your idea of a place is so fixed in the images you’ve already seen of it. The extreme humidity, heat, and mist at the Great Wall of China made me rethink everything I thought I knew about this wonder.

misty great wall of china
The Forbidden City sits in the centre of Beijing and is filled with locals and travellers alike – a great snapshot into a modern city holding an ancient past.

forbidden city in beijing

Getting There

G Adventures runs a number of rail journeys encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater for different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours— check out our rail tours here.

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