Katherine's Trip 2005/06 travel blog

This was possibly the worst train journey so far. We got to the Russian border town at approximately 9am where we sat until 4pm in the afternoon. Yes you've guessed it the toilets were closed for the entire time. We had also heard of a particularly rife scam that the (corrupt) Russian customs officals often use. When you fly into Russia you are told that you only need to declare money if you have over $10,000 US, but when you leave the customs officals search you and ask you why you did not declare the money when you came in. No amount of arguing will help and they will more than likely take your money off you. Therefore, we all turned into some sort of international money laundering gang and startd secreting as much money as we could into various pockets and orifices (don't go there!)I hid mine in my bra (both cups!) and behind the cover of the harry potter book someone had lent me. A "reasonable" amount was left in our money belts if they searched us. This whole process took us hours, (remember we were in a very confined space!!) and I think I wasn't the only one who was grateful when they gave our cabin a really good going over - (including unscrewing the roof to see if we had stashed a little peasant in the air vents. Thankfully they couldn't search our persons due to the lack of presence of a female customs official. It was all very nerve wracking but also quite exciting !!! Once we were through into No man's land we then had to wiat a further 3 hours at Mongolia border control before they would let us in. Unfortunately the Mongolians take this part of the process very sriously and anmy joking about of laughing causes serious offence. I was told I didn't look like my passport photo (thank god!!) and they had to check the norwegian guy's visa with the embassy as his passport, like my flip flops, had also fallen victim to Geoff's midnight weeing adventure.

So all in all it took us over 15 hours to cross approximately 10km, but strangely enough as soon as we entered into Mongolia the landscpae changed dramatically. The trees and forests disappeared to leave short grass burnt brown by the sun, and the considerable flatness of Siberia changed into huge hills and mountains.

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