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I feel sorry i am leaving the great Gobi desert to reach UlanBataar, i am sorry I will be just one more tourist in that city, and I am happy with my experience in Sainshand. I saw the train route from the border (zamiid-Uud) to Ulanbataar, 12 hours by train, i wandered if there was anything in the middle of that route, there was no info in the internet, everybody goes straight to UB, only a couple on bicycle rider bloggers wrote something about this city when they pedaled from UB to China, I also wanted to be the only one passing there, and I loved the pictures I found. I now am selfishly worried that my blog will atract more tourists to this lost place, but here is my experience… Remember, this site is not a travel blog, this is my memories.
The definitely Mongolian train attendant woke me up at 1 am, I was so tired as somebody would after spend long days at the office, but my office have been the motion, in wheels, foot or rails, and my job is to pay attention to every possible detail around, that tires, so earplugs on and sound slept in my upper level bed in the coach# 3, the sound of the carbon train and the wind coming through the window had me deep slept dreaming with travel, a unstopped travel, sweet dream or nightmare, depends. when i felt her hands waking me up like somebody shaking the locomotor. I then grabbed my little bag and woke up Camille, in the lower bed, 3 minutes later the train stopped and we got in the platform, the place looked like it should, Gobi desert with some random houses and a train station, it had been so hot the whole day, and now outside was very pleasant, many locals got off the train and there were food sellers in the platform, jeep or 4×4 style cars picked up people and i paid attention, no more foreigners around. Almost walked 7 couches and I remembered we forgot Camilles hat, a pretty princess explorer white hat we bought in erlian, I loved camille inmdiatly deciding to run for it, so i volunteer for the job, I ran got in the ouch while saying in chinese that I forgot my hat, and I got off the train with the white hat on.
Back to the platform We decided avoid the Hotel neon sign 200m across a field and find a hotel we read about in wikitravel, no adreess only the name. We walked the streets in windy fresheness, walked by Gurs, the mongolian round tents and other rustic, other modern houses, and got the advice got fom girl of checking a house hotel nearby the station. Broke in, got upstairs and said hello, the landlord lady came out, showed the room, looked ok, 30000 MNT, around 18 usd, that was ok. No internet and i wanted to watch Colombia playing Brasil in the world cup, quarter finals and all my country will watch that game, 4 am mongolian time. Luckily there was TV, unluckily there was no shower. 4 am I woke up and there it was, the game. 45 min I watched both the game and the sand storm outside the window cracking our wooden hotel. 4:45, halftime and a chance to go for a morning walk. What I saw at 5 am was unforgiven, emptiness in the streets, not a soul, and a beautiful sunrise. A train arrived and with it some passengers, stray dogs and people also started going out the houses. I took beautiful pictures and the cold morning kept me woke up and energized. I was back to my room when the game was expiring, Colombia lost 2-0 but it was a beautiful game and I got my beautiful Mongolian early morning.
We took our bags and left the hotel without map or plan, special placesdont have maps, went to the train station, selling was closed but where somebody helped us to arrange tickets. We started walking east, we found the train station, with its scattered houses is 2 km apart from the proper SAINSHAND, that walk is great. An old man talked to us and said good bye with a head kiss, drunk workers in a construction invited us vodka in their shelter, which was too strange itself, we flew soon to a view platform from where climbing a soviet tank I saw all the town and he saw me for 1 whole hour. Camille is not so passionate, she killed time while I admired the view.
We kept going to the city through suburb alleys where gurts mixed with houses and temples, everything seemed strange, anyway We where the strangers, peoples faces, monks, stray dogs, the sky and the desert.
In town we visited a budist museum, pretty good and knowing there was somewhere 20 km away some famous temples, I talked to a taxi driver outside who gave us very good price for the driving there. He drove for us for 6 hours.
He took us east of the town, where there is only desert, Gobi. A beautiful view for our first day in Mongolia. I saw wild horses, and wild camels, a group of almost 25, which I was happy to approach, almost touch them. and we visited old monasteries and temples contrasting the white and yellow dunes.
We where back to the train station just in time to have dinner and catch the train, dinner was Mongolian meat with rice, mashed potato and hot horse milk. The train was beautiful, a sleeping carriage for just Camille and Me and the landscape outside the opened window. We where going to Ulanbataar, but the night train stopped in every little villages, I mentioned the idea of just get out and stay overnight somewhere, but my idea wasn’t popular among my group, i mean, Camile. In every stop the train doors were opened and the attendants would make light signs each other along the long train. I was both sorry for leaving the amazing desert side and excited for finally reach that city with that legendary name, UlanBataar.