China, Mongolia & Russia 9/15

Greetings once again…or privyet (pree-vyet) in Russian. Since we left you last, we were headed to Shanghai, China to apply for our Russian visa. That didn’t go so well, so we immediately made our way to Beijing via the high speed rail (over 300 km/hr). After another unsuccessful trip to a Russian Embassy, it was time to employ the services of our tour company and have them bypass the lines and apply on our behalf. Meanwhile, we saw the sights in and around Beijing; Tian an men Square, the Forbidden city, the Great Wall, Olympic Park, etc. Our visa came back just in time to catch the train the following day to UlaanBaatar, Mongolia. We didn’t spend much time in the city before heading out to the steppe (barren countryside). We stayed in a traditional ger (yurt), rode horses, hiked, and relaxed for three days. It was really a breath of fresh air. Next we caught an evening train to Irkutsk, Russia. It was two nights on the train and a whole day at the Russia border, but eventually we made it. A guide was waiting on the train platform for us ready to take us to a small village on the shores of Lake Baikal, where we are now. Lake Baikal is the largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world. It’s gorgeous! The waters and the landscape are very familiar. The area looks much like Northern Wisconsin or Upper Michigan. Amazing! Enjoy!

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Famous Shanghai skyline.

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The bullet trains waiting in the Shanghai Station.

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The Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China.

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The Great Wall. Need I say more!

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The Water Cube at Beijing Olympic Park.

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Birds Nest Stadium at night.

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After competing in the world’s shortest triathlon.
Here’s an article we were featured in about the event.
Don’t laugh too hard at the distances. It was fun!
http://english.cri.cn/6566/2012/09/05/902s720790.htm

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Some gardens in TianAnMen Square. Entrance to the Forbidden City in the background.

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The South Gate to TianAnMen Square.

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Amazingly painted.

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Pandas at the Beijing Zoo. So cute!

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They are really good climbers.

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Yep! This train is taking us to Mongolia.

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First leg, Beijing, China to Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia.

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Changing the wheels of the train at the border. China’s tracks are 10cm wider than Mongolia’s.

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Onward through Mongolia.

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Statue of Chinggis Khaan in front of the Government building in UB.
In America, we know him as Ghengis Khan.

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A traditional ger (yurt). Our accommodations for the next three nights.

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A giant statue of Chinggis Khaan in the middle of nowhere.

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Attempting to get closer to a herd in the Mongolian steppe.

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Quite an amazing feeling being in the middle of Mongolia.

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Semi-wild horses. Someone owns them, but they roam free. No fences.

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With our guide, Enkhee (en-kay).

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Yikes! Yaks.

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That’s a vulture. Approx. 40 pounds and huge talons.

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The Mongolia-Russia border.

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Our first onion dome, on the shores of Lake Baikal.

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What a great view of the lake while hiking through the woods.

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After taking a dip on the freezing cold lake. Dunking your head three times is said to add 15 years to your life. I have a video to prove it.

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Approaching sunset over the lake.

OK. Sorry this post was so long. We had a lot of catching up to do with China blocking several websites. We are in Russia now and they seem to have decent internet connections here. We spend another night on the lake before heading into Irkutsk for a night. Then we are back on the train for four nights headed to Moscow and eventually St. Petersburg. Look for plenty of pictures from those two cities. Everything is going great. We have met several other people doing the same route across Russia with us. We are enjoying their company very much. It’s nice to see a familiar face every once in a while, especially in Russia.

Thanks for having a look.
~B

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