Daily Prompt: Border

image train

via Daily Prompt: Border

The most memorable border crossing I have ever made was on the Trans Mongolian Express as we travelled from China, through Mongolia and into Russia.

It was in 1990 and it was winter so there were very few western tourists. David and I had tried to prepare for the journey by reading everything we could get our hands on about the train and the experiences of other travellers.

The Trans-Mongolian Railway in the Gobi Desert
By PIERRE ANDRE LECLERCQOwn work, GFDL,

We were apprehensive about Mongolia. We had not been able to obtain transit visas in Australia, in those days that had to be done in Beijing and involved surrendering our passports to the authorities for two days to get the necessary stamps. We were a little anxious before we even began.

We decided to be very cautious about taking photographs because we had read that not only had tourists had their films confiscated but in some cases had their cameras broken as well. We did not see anything like that happen on our journey and I very much regret that I did not risk taking a few pictures.

image train
Locomotive hauling the Trans Mongolian Express 1990 photo V Jensen

It was night when we reached the border, cold and there was a thick fog. At this stop the train was to be bogey exchanged from the Chinese gauge to the Russian one.

1024px-bogie_swap_at_the_mongolia-china_border_erlian_149199529
Bogie swap at the Mongolia China border at Erlian. Photo Wikipedia

While we waited we heard the sound of a steam engine in the darkness and then out of the fog came an impressively large steam engine. It was a fantastic sight which  I wish I had photographed but will never forget.

Of course at both the Chinese and Russian borders we had lengthy visits from officials checking our passports. The Russian ones were particularly intimidating although beautifully turned out in their heavy winter coats and hats. Everyone had to leave the compartment while it was thoroughly searched but apart from that and some hard stares at our passports (in our compartment Japanese, Canadian, British and Australian) we tourists were not really bothered. Some of the Chinese passengers were not so lucky. We heard that some had been put off the train although we were not sure why. The official that visited our compartment only had one word of English “Passport.”

I think the most unnerving thing about crossing borders on this journey was the sight of so many armed guards as up to that time I had rarely even seen a gun.

Border crossing adapted from a photo by Jack No.1 , 09/08/20009.This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. You are free: to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work to remix – to adapt the work Under the following conditions: attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). share alike – If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.
Border crossing – adapted from a photo by Jack No.1 , 09/08/20009.This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
You are free:
to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work
to remix – to adapt the work
Under the following conditions:
attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
share alike – If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.

 

 

 

 

Author: Taswegian1957

Born in England in 1957 my family came to Australia in 1966. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where I met and married my husband David. We came together over a mutual love of trains. Both of us worked for the railways for many years, his job was with Australian National Railways, while I spent 12 years working for the STA, later TransAdelaide the Adelaide city transit system. After leaving that job I worked in hospitality until 2008. We moved to Tasmania in 2002 to live in the beautiful Huon Valley. David passed away in 2015 and I'm here on my own now but I have Cindy the dog and Polly the cat to keep me company. I currently co-write two Wordpress blogswith my sister Naomi. Our doll blog "Dolls, Dolls, Dolls", and a "Our Other Blog" which is about everything else but with a focus on photographs and places in Tasmania.

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