Trip to Beijing

As you may have notice, I don’t have so much time to update my blog lately. As many other blogs, this one is turning into a mere log of my trips around Asia…

It doesn’t help much to solve this, but here are some pics of my last trip to Beijing with Alex. Nevertheless, I promise to tell you more stories about Seoul as soon as I have some free time again (work, Korean exams, job interviews, etc. have been keeping me busy all this time).

First funny picture of the trip. Two workers made turns to carry each other in this little car… in the middle of a four-lane avanue.

Entrance of the Lama Temple.

With Alex, my travel mate.

InTiananmen, undoubtedly one of the must-see spots in Beijing, where in 1989 the famous revolution about the Chinese communist dictatorship took place (more info here: video 1, video 2).

Another view of Tiananmen, from the top.

At the Silk Market (where more than Silk, all kinds of fake products are sold). I bought these two girls a pair of fake Adidas for 60 yuan (9 USD). Kind of expensive, but they were so cute…

A hair shop in the middle of the street?

What would Mao say about this…?

Of course, we also visited  The Great Wall of China.

One of the hobbies of Chinese people is the artistic writing of Chinese ideograms. At the huge Summer Palace, this woman spent the whole morning writing with this stick that she dip into a bucket with water. Obviously, after a few minutes, the characters were gone.

This seems to be another hobbie of Chinese. I don’t know how to call that.

Right before going back to the airport, a picture with “The Nest” at the background, where Usain Bolt made history with his record.

Of course, I can’t leave without thanking my friend and coworker Peque, great friend and better person, who arranged our housing in Beijing and showed us the city’s nightlife, and my friend and Korean-mom Ga-Young, who made time in her busy student schedule to meet us and spend some time with us. Hope I can see you guys again soon! 🙂

Trip to Mongolia (from Beijing)

Day 1: Arrive in Beijing and Bus to Erenhot (Border with Mongolia)

We arrived in Beijing in the morning. At the airport Ga-Young was waiting for us and took us to the bus station to get our bus tickets to Erenhot, the border with Mongolia. After we got the tickets, we had around four hours left to hang around Beijing, so we headed to Tiananmen, took some pictures, had some Peking Duck for lunch, and back to the bus station.

In China! 😀

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At Tiananmen Square, from left to right, Ga-Young, Jairo, I, and Pablo.

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Ready to take the bed-bus to Erenhot.

Day 2: Crossing the Border with Mongolia and taking the night train

Next day in the morning, we arrived in Erenhot, the last Chinese city before crossing the border to Mongolia. When we got off the bus, there were dozens of drivers offering us to cross the border with us in their Russian 4WD’s.

Jairo with our driver and his car.

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Already in Mongolia, playing pool while we waited for the train that would take us to the capital, Ulan Bator.

It was so hot inside the train. No air conditioning and because the windows had to be open all the time and we were actually crossing the Gobi Desert, it was so dusty…

The train wasn’t very comfortable either. Here I am trying to get some sleep with Pablo and my Korean book.

Day 3: Arriving in Ulan Bator, Camel Riding, and First Night in a Ger

After being in the train for the whole night, we arrived in Ulan Bator, where Seggie, our tour guide picked us up. Very few people speak English in Ulan Bator, and if you moved to the countryside like we did, you really need a guide and a driver if you don’t want to get lost in the middle of nothing.

My first experience with a Mongolian restroom… It’s worse than it seems :S

Camel riding… in sandals!

Day 4: Karakorum and Rock Formations

On the 4th day we headed to Karakorum, the old capital of the Mongol Empire.

Mongolian Ger (a.k.a. yurt).

A typical Mongolian family going to the Erdene Zuu Monastery, in Karakorum.

Entrance to the monastery.

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For the first time in my life, I rode a horse 🙂

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Probably the most awesome rainbow that I’ve ever seen.

Day 5: Volcano and Lake

This day we drove a lot. I don’t know how many kilometers, but eventually we arrived at Khorgo Volcano. After climbing to the top of the volcano, and going down to it’s crater, we went swimming to a lake nearby, where we spent the night and took some rest.

At the top of the volcano.

Right at the crater of the volcano.

The lake where we swam (just awesome!).

Day 6: Driving Day

More driving.. although we were supposed to stop an another lake, this day wasn’t very warm for swimming, so we decided to just keep driving back to Karakorum, where we spend the night at a tourist camp, (which means that we could enjoy a shower and common toilets!!)

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I got to drive for a while on Mongolian non-paved roads.

Beautiful sunset in Karakorum.

Day 7: Wild Horses at Hustai Pational Park

This was one of the best experiences in our trip. Mongolia is the only country in the world where you can see truly wild horses. As opposed to the American Mustang or the Australian Brumby, the Mongolian Wild Horse, Przewalski’s Horse, or simply Takhi (which means “spirit”, and is how Mongolians call them) has never been successfully domesticated.

Family of wild Mongolian horses.

The three adventurers with the wild horses on the background.

Day 8: Ulan Bator

In our last day in Mongolia we decide to head back to Ulan Bator, and do some shopping before going to the airport and fly to Beijing and then back to Seoul. From what we saw, Ulan Bator is not such an interesting city. Quite dusty because of the close Gobi Desert, and full of old ugly and poor looking buildings, although we also saw that this city is developing very fast, with many new buildings being built.

The only picture I took this day (at a store which sells all kinds of products made of Mongolian wool).. Gracias Seggie! 🙂