Trans-Manchurian Railway, #UTC11 Goes to China 16

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Michael Jeannie Nora Moscow Train Station Ultimate Train Challenge

at one of the Moscow train stations, the day before departure


We are on the six day and approximately 150 hour train ride from Moscow to Bejing as you read this. There is a possibility that Jeannie and Nora have already smothered me for my snoring. If so, I wish this, my last post, to officially beg for their forgiveness in the courts of law.

My snoring might make murder into justifiable homicide.

Now that I think about it…. I bet there is video proof of that coming up next week from one of those two on the Ultimate Train Challenge blog. Damn it.

So, I have done the Trans-Mongolian once before, on my round-the-world trip in 2009-10 without leaving the ground. But on that particular trip, I did actually stop twice, once in Irkutsk near Lake Baikal.

Interesting fact, Lake Baikal holds approximately 20% of the world’s fresh, unfrozen water in the world’s oldest and deepest lake. Amazing. Then again, the Russian government is doing everything they can to drain it for mass agriculture and destroy the local environment, so it might be 20% today and 5% in twenty years.

Trans-Siberian railroad map, russian train route map

we take the yellow route into China this time

I also stopped in Ulan Bator, Mongolia on that trip (and got to check out a local show of artists that was amazing – this is one of my favorite short videos on my entire trip). On this particular trip, we will not be going through Mongolia at all, but skirting it to the north.

What amazes me about the whole trip, not surprisingly, is how fracking huge Russia and China are. Right now, I am looking at our train schedule on the Real Russia site, our wonderful sponsors for this part of the journey.

We travel 6,626 kilometers (4,117 miles) from Moscow to the China border. It takes from 11:35 p.m. Saturday night until 3:57 p.m. on Thursday afternoon to get there.

The journey is 8,961 kilometers (5,568 miles) from Moscow to Beijing on this route. Wishing I was able to fit Shanghai into this trip, but no on the right train path.

We arrive at 5:32 a.m. Saturday morning… more than six days after we leave. And that’s never leaving the train for any stop longer than 30 minutes at any of the stations.

To put that in perspective, according to Google Maps, Los Angeles to New York is 2,790 miles. Do the math.

We are going from New York to Los Angeles…and back…this week.

One of the reasons that I adore overland travel is that I firmly believe that is the best way for one to grasp the full enormity of our amazing planet. You can get on a plane and fly from Los Angeles to Bangkok in under 18 hours. Or from London to Johannesburg in 11 hours. Or this route – Moscow to Bejing – in under 8 hours.

But I’m sorry, you will not be able to remotely grasp how immense our wonderful planet Earth is by flying over it. It is huge. It is spectacular. I am never ceased to be awestruck in almost every corner I go to.

And if you don’t give a bit of extensive overland travel out at some point in your life… I think you are missing out.

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About Michael Hodson

I’m an attorney that took off on my birthday in December of 2008 to circumnavigate the globe without ever getting on an airplane. After 16 months, 6 continents and 44 countries, I made it all the way back home. Right now, I am back on the road writing about it all.

16 thoughts on “Trans-Manchurian Railway, #UTC11 Goes to China

  • Laur @ The Mad To Live

    Hahaha… gotta love the snorers… when i was in Beijing I took a train to xi’an and the lovely chinese family I shared my little bunk room with all shared snoring in their gene pool haha.

    ANYWAY – Enjoy Beijing! Try to get to the Temple of Heaven early in the morning to watch the people sing and do tai chi and dance and take their birds out in their cages. It’s really great, especially with all the hustle and bustle that Beijing is!

    – Laur 🙂

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Unfortunately, just one brief day here. We hit the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs… and early to bed. 8 a.m. train tomorrow.

  • Baron's

    Great stuff…give us details of life on the train…food?, entertainment…what do you do all day…bitch at each other…read books…hav sex…whatever…tell me how it’s like

  • Angie Orth

    Ok, you’ve convinced me! Adding to my life checklist! (PS don’t let me catch you snoring… If the gals on UTC don’t smother you, Revengelina & I definitely will)

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Well if I can make a suggestion, as I sit here in Beijing after 6 straight days on the train…. take a break or two along the way.

  • Angela

    I am so deeply in love with China after a year I’ve lived there that I’m also very envious you are going now. You are on a beautiful adventure, I absolutely agree that you can’t perceive the greatness of the planet if you travel only by plane.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Thanks, Angela. Needless to say, we see eye to eye on the ground travel and I bet we also agree on China. I am just sitting here in Beijing with my multi-entry, one year visa, thinking to myself… hmmmmm, self…. why not come back here after the train challenge is over?

  • Cathy Sweeney

    I totally agree with you about taking overland journeys. this is a big, wonderful world. I learned at an early age about how cool it was to see the USA traveling overland and hope to have many opportunities to do the same in other parts of the world. Enjoying UTC vicariously through your posts, by the way.

  • Cailin

    “We are going from New York to Los Angeles…and back…this week.”

    Amazing!! I’ve taken a bus tour down most of the east coast of Australia and also through Europe (8 countries) and the North island of New Zealand. Just recently I did my own land tour by driving across Canada and I loved every minute of it. You are so right in saying that people need to take on some land travel at some point in their life/travels to really learn how magnificent this globe is 🙂

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