Good time well spent on a train ride means that friendships are made, books read, and cards played. The view around Lake Baikal is really pretty, however, the first four days are mainly trees though. All in all a great experience and highly recommended to any traveler!
We passed the largest, oldest, and deepest freshwater lake on the last day before entering Mongoliax Lake Baikal is absolutely beautiful. Wish they actually stop in Irkutsk for longer period of time so we can to explore the lake. I’m totally going to come back to see it in the winter though. I heard its an amazing sight when frozen.
The immigration process between the two borders was horrid. It took around two hours at each border. We were in total lockdown – can’t get off the train, no toilet, and they even preferred us to stay in our kupe and not walk around. The Russian side is more problematic. The officers are harsh (borderline rude). They are very strict about baggage as well. We were told to open one of our bag for them to check and had to show our wallet to customs. The custom officers also climbed the bunk bed to check the storage hold on top. Seriously though?!!?? Its a tourist railway. The Mongolian side is a lot easier and friendly. But still, beware that you have to go to the bathroom about an hour before entering the Russian border!
What else did we do on the train? Let see. People drank, talk, play cards, read/write, and mostly chill out. Slow life for a few days. At each stop we got out to stock up on food and snack. The stops that we can get off at last around 10-45 minutes. Check the time table accordingly though since the train runs on Moscow time, but you gain about an hour everyday locally. If you have internet, then your phone might change the time automatically. So make sure when you should board the train or else you’ll be left behind. The conductors are very good at notifying how long we have and when to get back on. Always be on the good side with the conductors…it’ll make your ride more pleasant. At least it did for us.
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