Every so often a foreigner will pass through the tiny border town of Zamiin Uud, located along the southeast corner of Mongolia on the pretense of what many refer to as a “visa run” – a literal sprint to the border when three months of unalienated stay is depleted. This past weekend, I accompanied a couple friends on a 48 hour trip to Erlian, the small Chinese city across the border, to see what the hype was about. The experience was cramped and peculiar, but also spectacularly adventurous.
Onboard the Trans-Mongolian: Train 276, watching the sunset spray purple across the steppe hills was something only scenes that a romanticized version of the Darjeeling Limited could conure. The faint tick-tock of spinning iron drifted across the cabin – 4 square meters of table, bunks, and luggage.
Once we arrived in China, the immediate and only thing on our mind was food – pork sandwiches, street cart food, scallion pancakes, dumplings and green tea. The day in Erlian was short, as our train departed for Ulaanbaatar in only 6 hours. Naturally, we stocked up on groceries. And so ended our expedition through the snow-capped hills, onwards and upwards to Ulaanbaatar, home.