25 June: road to Ulaanbaatar

25 June. And…. we’ve just crossed the border into Mongolia! Our train advances for a while till it stops in the middle of nowhere and starts going backwards, who knows why. Finally the Mongolian custom authorities come in, distribute migration cards for us to fill in and take our passports away. About an hour later, or two, I…

26-29 June: Ulaanbaatar & Surroundings

26 June. Ulaanbaatar. 5 AM. The provodnitsa enters our cabin and wakes us up in the most tactless way possible. Welcome to Mongolia. The train is arriving in an hour, but she needs to gather the sheets, so we have to get up and gather our stuff. We sit down looking like three zombies till we…

Stop 1: Nizhny Novgorod

6 June. We are on board of the “Lastochka”, Nizhny Novgorod bound. It’s a gorgeous day: the sky is uncharacteristically blue and the sunbeams make the trees extra green, like splotches of color against the grayness of the khrushevy. The clouds all have the same weird shape, like an army of snails moving in synchrony across…

Stop 2: Yekaterinburg

10 June. We’re still on the train to Yekaterinburg and there’s about 5 more hours to go. The kids in the lower berths are reading and making bracelets. They’re going straight to Krasnoyarsk, so it’ll be another 3 days for them to arrive. They’re actually really well-behaved, I mean, if it were Italian kids it would…

30 June: The Gobi

It’s midnight and we’re on board of our “Limousine” minivan, desert bound. The road is pitch black and we can feel the vastness and emptiness around us, although we can see anything but darkness from our windows. Only a few sparkles twinkle in the distance. They’re probably fires in some ger camps. We’re about two hours…

Stop 3: Omsk

13 June. I wake up on the train, upper bed, again. It’s almost 8 AM, local time, and in less than a couple of hours we’ll arrive in Omsk. I climb down my berth using my incredibly graceful and refined technique, and take my seat. The man in front of me is already up. He’s…

1-2 July: Back to UB

1 July. Ulaanbaatar.  We finally manage to go see a traditional Mongolian dance and song show, at the National Song & Dance Academic Ensemble, on one of the corners of Chinggis Khan Square. The show is incredible, we get to see and hear the traditional throat singing, horse fiddle playing, as well as shaman, folk and…

Stop 4: Krasnoyarsk

15 June. We’re on a train headed to Krasnoyarsk and we’re gonna spend about 25 hours in here. And it’s only 10 AM. Boring? Wrong. We immediately meet this couple from a small town in the Siberian north, Valerii and Tamara, who are headed to Novosibirsk and from there to the Altai mountains for their summer…

Stop 5: Irkutsk & Lake Baikal

18 June, 2.41 AM. Krasnoyarsk train station. Our train is finally here. We reach the platform and it’s raining, obviously. We run to the wagon and settle in our seats, while a Russian lady, who has the berth beneath mine, hears us speaking in Italian and immediately starts a conversation with me. Her name is Oksana. She…

Stop 6: Ulan Ude

23 June. We’re on the train from Irkutsk to Ulan Ude, we put the alarm at 4 AM to catch the sunrise on lake Baikal and as I open my eyes, Marta is already up next to me, looking out the window, searching for the water. Yet all we can see is trees and again trees….

Part 3: China

Our trip to China was simply amazing… We discovered a new culture and a country full of history and wonders, from the Great Wall to the Terracotta Army… We also enjoyed the great Chinese nightlife in a country were foreigners are treated like stars…