Asian Highlights

Neon lights on Nanjing road.

We have now reached Japan – the land where toilet seats are heated and the toilet can wash your …behind, and where the fish in the supermarket are as fresh as they come.

Before arriving in Japan, we spent about a week in China. Unfortunately for us, the entire week was one big national holiday, so everywhere was packed with chinese tourists. Beijing was great and we would have liked to stay longer, but lucky for our wallet, we had a plane to Xian to catch. In Xian we saw the Terracotta Warriors, which was a great sight, although it was with my life at stake that the photographs of them were taken, because of the above mentioned number of chinese tourists that pushed like crazy.

It has been an odd experience to come from asian countries as Mongolia and China to Japan, which in some ways are very asian and in other ways so differing. There is the above mentioned toilet with warm seats and a butt-washing function, compared to the mongolian and chinese hole in the ground. Crossing the street as a pedestrian, the cars have to stop for you and not the other way around like in China (actually, I think most people might even have a drivers license here, unlike in Mongolia).

And the trains are as picked out of a futuristic movie compared to the transmongolian railway!

But in other ways, Japan is still very asian, especially the always smiling and overly polite people and of course the food culture.

And there`s always an old temple nearby.

Arriving in Kobe, we of course tasted the famous Kobe steak and afterwards headed for Hiroshima, where we saw the A-Bomb Dome and all the memorial places and museums there is. Then Nagasaki was next, and although the museums and memorial places here were just as fascinating to see, the city was not as charming as Hiroshima. We`re now in Kyoto, which is a fantastic city. It holds everything new and modern about Japan, but still manage to capture the old japanese style and culture. Luckily we set aside several days to stay here, but somehow there`s so much to see and do that we probably don`t have time to see and do it all. We`re definitely coming back.

7865 km later…

We didn’t quite know what to expect when boarding the train in Moscow, to spend 3 days and 4 nights on a train seemed a bit crazy to be honest… But once on board the train, we quickly fell into the rhythm og the train and the time just flew by. It was a weird feeling to just sit and read or look out the window, and the suddenly realize that we had passed two timezones! And when we finally arrived in Irkutsk, we discovered that it is possible to get jetlag after a train ride.

There is not much to say about our stay in Irkutsk, except that it was a waste of time, and that the reason for our visit there, the nearby lake Baikal (the worlds deepest lake) was a bit of a disapointment.

Our next train ride was ‘only’ a little overĀ 24 hours to the capital of Mongolia, Ulaan Bator. It was a relief to get out of Russia – lets just say that its not a country we are eager to get back to. Mongolia, on the other hand, is a beautiful country, and the mongolian people are open, friendly, very hospitable and always has a smile on their face.

In Mongolia we went on a 9 day trip around the mongolian countryside, driving in the small, bumpy wheel tracks that is the infrastructure in Mongolia. At night we slept in traditional gers with nomade families or in a tent. Here we experienced first hand the amazing mongolian hospitality. The second night we stayed in a ger that had just been build the day before, and therefore we participated in a traditional mongolian custom, which consisted of drinking mongolian vodka, a homemade camels-vodka and camelsmilk, the latter tasting of sour, old and lumpy buttermilk. We then drank in threes: three rounds with a shot of each. But the man of the house was not cheap – he kept on pouring the vodka till the bottle was empty… So lets just say we slept good that night.

Although we drove several hundred km a day, we only saw a percentage of what Mongolia has to offer – the country was much bigger than we expected. But we made it to south Gobi, and saw the giant sand dunes which is over 180 wide, and to central Mongolia where we saw the ancient capital. All over the scenery was amazing! Its hard to describe in words, so we will let the pictures speak for themselves…

(click here to see them)

We are now i Beijing, and have thus completed our trip with the transiberian railway. Since we have both been here before and seen all the sights, its nice to have time to relax and wander this amazing city – and we might do some shopping as well…