Border Zamiin-Uud-Erlian

Scenes from a border rail crossing. ๐Ÿš‚

Not just for the rail buffs: a quite unique change at the China – Mongolia border crossing of Erlian/Zamlin-Uud. Itโ€™s technically called a bogie exchange where the wheels or bogies are changed to move from the standard gauge used on the Chinese side (1435mm gauge) to the wider gauge of 1520mm used in the Mongolian and Russian trains. The cool thing is the lifting of the carriage and bogie changes are done while we remained in carriage! No extra charge for the levitation and bumping and jerking over 4 hours!

Fascinating as it was, the bogie change and border crossing meant a wait of more than six hours which was quite an endurance test ๐Ÿ˜ฌ. The Chinese of course built the Great Wall to keep the Mongol hordes out. Some 55 percent (source: Wikipedia, i thought it was higher ๐Ÿค”) of the worldโ€™s rail system uses standard gauge but the gauge wars started as early as the 1830s in Britain and eventually Stephensonโ€™s standard gauge prevailed with some help from an act of Parliament in the 1840s.

Perhaps history has shown us that walls ultimately donโ€™t quite work, grand as they may be (Berlin, Hadrian, Kublai ruled China and so on; 45 and his friends in Tel Aviv may want to note!) – and how much easier the global commons would be if we can agree on common standards!. ๐Ÿš‚โ˜ฏ๏ธ๐Ÿ™. KK 2019 Day 16/17, #kretapikir


30 July 2019


Mongolia ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ณ, 3 packed days in the magical land under the big blue sky. TQ so much to Jargal, Oyuna, George, Nom, Bata, Sodo and the beautiful family for being such incredible hosts. ๐Ÿ™โค๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ช Finally made it to Ulaanbaatar after many years of intending to and we were treated to so much of the legendary Mongolian culture and hospitality; its music, fashion, and national sports of archery, wrestling abd horse riding. A mini Nadaam (a kind of Mongolian mini Olympics meets highland ganes, only older!) was even put together for these two lucky travellers… And in a national park too – a case of WWF meets WWF ๐Ÿ˜‚! The wild freedom of the grasslands, haunting steppes and the time tested Gers meant we slept like babies under the big sky of the national park.

The shadow of Chinggis Khan – correct spelling – remains long and wide, 800 years on. With reputedly 16m direct descendants of Chinggis, and one in 6 in this world of 7bn apparently having Mongol blood ๐Ÿ˜ฎ, there is a lot of inner Mongols in all of us! The largest empire the world had ever seen then, from as far west as Poland, Hungary and Russia and to the East in the court of Kublai Khan in China and the great expanse in between. The ruthlessness and brutal conquests were matched by great contributions to mankind including the Silk Road, meritocracy, a legal canon and many military and other innovations. Loved or respected..and feared in almost equal measure.

Its descendants went on to rule Persia, Russia, India and China among others. 30 years hence after the Soviet collapse, is a nation rediscovering its glorious roots. TQ so much again to Jargal and family for sharing its great legacy with us. Days 17-19 of KK 2019. #kretapikir. Alhamdullilah. ๐Ÿ™๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿ’–


6 August 2019