A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: ctamler

Cory on Beijing

city of eggplant/no cab drivers knowing where our hotel is

sunny 28 °C
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The fun thing about entering China by train is border crossing day: two six-hour stints on either side of the border getting your passports checked and your bags poked through and waiting in the train station. In the Russian station everyone (not just our group...everyone) looked down in the dumps: worn out, soggy from the weather, hungry, grouchy. There wasn't much food available, little room to walk around, the border patrol was full of sullen young Russians who looked more like hooligans than law enforcement.

The minute we stepped into the Chinese station, the atmosphere changed. Everyone around us was smiling, laughing, drinking. The station was much more open, cleaner; there were shops, there was food, even the ramen for sale was better. The women of the Russian train staff were cheerfully buying scarves on the second floor.

Beijing had the same sort of instantly favorable impression on me. The city's bright and full of life, the weather good and hot. It's easy to get around -- taxis everywhere if nothing else, though most of the cab drivers don't seem to have a clue as to where our hotel is. We're very near to the Forbidden City and Tian'anmen Square, which is convenient. People are generally pleasant and helpful, and there hasn't been as much staring as the warnings led me to expect there would be (aside from a group of high school students passing through Peking University snapping photos with their cameraphones and shouting "Hello! Hello!" -- the one English word everyone seems to know here, even the tiny two-year-old girl we passed in the Summer Palace). Shopping here is like a sport, temples and palaces are huge and gorgeous, good food is beyond reasonably priced -- it's downright cheap -- and incredibly varied. We like the eggplant.

Posted by ctamler 21:17 Archived in China Comments (0)

Cory on Moscow

city of stray dogs

semi-overcast
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Most of my preconceived notions about Russia come from Fiddler on the Roof and Chekhov. The former doesn't really apply to Moscow, other than the whole importance of tradition and history thing. First impressions of any city on a diet of sleeplessness and cold rain are bound to be at least a little unfavorable; our hotel was far from centrally located, and the metro station hard to find. I get the feeling that it isn't easy to navigate the city if you're at all removed from the hub.

Once you're in the city proper, though, things are different. Seems there's something to look at around every corner: churches with swirled roofs like chocolate kisses, statues of Lenin, monuments, government buildings. I'd heard vaguely of the Kremlin before but didn't know what it was -- interesting to think that Moscow was once just what was bounded within those red walls.

Stray dogs are abundant, store clerks often impatient with pointing and broken Russian-English hybridizations, and cars don't stop for pedestrians. You have potato, sour cream, dumpling, you make good Russian meal. I think I'm a lot better at reading Cyrillic now.

Posted by ctamler 20:41 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

Updated Itinerary

May 12: Meet at Delta Ticket Counter no later than 12 (noon). We will check in as a group.

Flying Delat Airlines Flight 636 to JFK – transfer to Aeroflot 0316 to Moscow SVO

May 13: Arrive Moscow SVO – transfer to Ostankino Hotel - 29, Botanicheskaya Street

May 13-15: Moscow

May 15: Depart Moscow at 23:34 on Train #10 to Irkutsk

May 19: Arrive Irkutsk, transfer to Lake Bakal Home stays

May 22: Depart Irkutsk at 08:54 on Train #20 for Beijing

May 25: Arrive Beijing at 05:20 transfer to Dongjiaominxiang Hotel
http://www.beijinghotelchina.com/dongjiaominxiang/hotel.html

May 27: Dinner with Councler Xu – 6pm – Guilin Restaurant

May 28: Dinner with Bill and Eliot Bikalas

June 2: Depart Beijing at 07:30 on Train #23 for Mongolia

June 3: Arrive UB at 13:15 transfer to apartment
Apartment No. 96-98 of your Building 19 in District 13
The apartment is behind the Hazara Restaurant and Wrestling Palace

June 4: Classes begin at National University of Mongolia

June 22: Last day of Classes at NUM, begin internships/research projects

June 29: Last day to have mail sent to you from the US
Mail to: Your Name
c/o American Center for Mongolian Studies
CPO Box 695, Ulaanbaatar-13, Mongolia

Aug 3: You MUST be in Mongolia by Friday at noon for our Farewell Reception/Meeting with Ambassador etc.

Aug 9: Depart UB at 07:45 Aeroflot #0564 to Moscow

Posted by ctamler 15:08 Comments (0)

Itinerary

Tentative, as yet

semi-overcast
View Mongolia on ctamler's travel map.

May 12: fly to Moscow from Pittsburgh
May 12-15: Moscow
May 15-20: on train
May 20-22: Irkutsk
May 22: depart Irkutsk
May 23: arrive UB
May 24: depart UB for Beijing
May 25-27: Beijing
May 28: train Beijing to Hohhot (12 hours)
May 29: arrive Hohhot
May 29-31: Inner Mongolia
May 31: Hohhot to Erdenhot, Erdenhot to UB
June 1 or 2: arrive UB
June 2-23: coursework at the National University of Mongolia, meetings, field trips
June 23-August 9: independent study/internship
August 9: depart UB to Moscow to Pittsburgh

Posted by ctamler 17:23 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (0)

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