Part Two: Deluxe Class
I’m fairly cheap fellow. I usually choose cheap over comfort, best demonstrated in my constant selection of hard seat options over soft sleeper (hard sleeper and soft seaters never seem to be available). However, as stated previously, trains to Mongolia are in limited supply and as such, a seat, is a seat, regardless of class. You need to consider yourself damn lucky that you have one. And I did feel fairly damn luck that I managed to find a seat a 24 hours before the departure time.
From Beijing to Ulan Batar, I would be traveling deluxe.
Traveling deluxe pushed my entrance travel expense from the expected 600RMB up to 1000RMB and while wood paneling is not worth that any day of the week, getting to UB on Tuesday instead of Sunday was. Deluxe traveling is, well, deluxe. Instead of being crammed into a wall less six bed cubicles, I was living the bourgeoisie life in a wooden, two bed box, complete with electrical outlets, shower, complementary tea, two meal tickets and no mandatory vodka drinking sessions. The negative aspect being that I was separated from other travelers on their way to UB and thus denied potential expedition organizing sessions and contacts. My compartment comrade was a Japanese fellow with incredibly tiny bag and big plans to travel through Siberia and down to Japan via the Sakhalin Islands. With no Russian visa, Russian language, or friends in Russia, he was embarking on what I could only describe as a freakin’ crazy trip. I’m not sure if he made it out of Mongolia. I killed the border time with him and a fine young Japanese girl on her way to school in the Czech Republic.