Hello from Mongolia!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004
We arrived today to Mongolia by train from Beijing. It was the first of many legs on the Trans Siberian Railroad! It was a great ride, really interesting. We woke up this morning to the sight of the Gobi Desert rolling by. It was flat as far as the eye could see. Occasionally there’d be a ger, which is a round Mongolian tent used by most people, and maybe we’d see a bird. That’s it! The scenery was beautiful and the other people on the train made the time pass quickly ?we shared our cabin with an Australian and a Japanese guy. In the 2 cabins next door was the Mongolian State Circus. They were coming back from a tour in Taiwan. Tomorrow we leave for a week jeep ride around the country, but when we return they offered to take us out for a night while we are in the city of Ulaan Bataar, the capital. I’m sure a night out with the circus will be fun!

Beijing was our last stop in China and by far the best place we visited in the country. There is so much to do there! We climbed the Great Wall of China, visited the Forbidden City and went to the Summer Palace. China may be communist, but they have fully embraced capitalism. Did you know that you can now buy a Starbucks coffee at the Forbidden City? This is a place that for thousands of years the entire world was kept away from?and now thousands of tourists pile through every day and Western products are sold! Anyway, it really is an interesting place to visit. We got to see where the emperor kept his harem, all 33 of them!

Beijing also has fantastic food! We ate Peking Duck - the city’s specialty. They stuff it, fill it with broth, marinate it and then roast it. Then you eat it with plum sauce and thin pancakes. It ends up being like a Chinese duck tortilla! I also believe we stumbled upon the best food court in the world. It’s just like your normal food court, but Chinese style and much more crowded. They gathered up all the different kinds of street vendor type food, cleaned it all up, use the best ingredients ?and voila ?you have Chinese food heaven. We ate there 3 times in five days. Beijing is also the site of the 2008 Olympics, and they are already gearing up for it. Everywhere you look there is construction ?they are building or rebuilding everything, including lots of new metro lines.

I'll write again after our trip through Mongolia!
Love, Alison


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