We reluctantly left Mongolia and have now arrived in our final destination, Beijing after the longest border crossing ever. Before that I forgot to tell you about the breakfast in a brothel. The morniong we left Irkutsk we went for breakfast in the hotel, I was met by a midle aged woman in a short pink skirt and a cleavage the size of the great wall of china!! The I looked around at the decor and I can only take other peoples word on this but it looked like a brothel and I suspect it had a double role. During the night we all had phone calls offering us prostitutes or as they said do you want a Russian woman to rest with!! Now I might be niaive but thats a prostitute in my book!! Anyway back to the border crossing at the Mongolian and Chinese border, funny as hell. The mongolain side was realtively easy, made easier by the officails being all women in uniform and wearing high heel boots (sorry, its a man thing). The Chinese was funny as the train pulled up to the platform were there was lots of train gurads in miltay type uniform standing to attention at appropraite distances so they would be at the carriage doors to stop us getting off. The train driver, Mongoiliand and not known for liking the Chinese stoppedthe train so they were all in the middle of the carriages, there was a mad scramble by the Chinese to get to the doors and again stand to attention. All this was going on whilst patriotic music was being blared out over the tannoy system. After a lenghty passport control and several forms to be filled in, the trains had to go away, us with them to get the wheels changed as the Russian and Chines railways run on different systems. We then went back to the patform after 4 hours, we then thought we set off but only to go back as it was only a test of the new wheels!! 9 hours we were there. The only problem is that the toilets shut when we are in the stations so after a while I was desperate for teh toilet, so when I got chance I got off andf went intro the Chines station , which was state of the art so had high expectations. I got in there and again it was a drop toilet but this time the target was smaller! Now you would think that the Chinese being small people wouldn't have far to squat and would hit the traget fairly comafotably, but no, so again I left it clenched my cheeks and waited of train toilets to open on the move, where at least I would have the fresh air syndrome. We arrived in Beijinmg this afertnoon and first impressions seem very good, you wouldn't think thisis the commusnist state and not Russia. We have got a really busy schedule over the next few days trying to cram everything in, even getting up at 4am see some flag ceremony in Tainamen Square. Then the Great Wall the day after. Will keep in touch as I can.
ttfn Gary (Leeds will be back)
ps We have travelled now nearly 8000 km on the train, impressed or what.
pps What makes trains go clickety clack?