Prepared by TMA member Gold Coast
Travel Health Doctors Gold Coast clients, Kate and Matt experienced the longest and arguably one of the most fascinating train journeys of all time – the Trans Siberian Express. The couple boarded the train in Frankfurt then onward to Warsaw and St Petersburg. The official journey then commenced in Moscow. From there Kate said she was amazed by the diversity of the landscape.
“It was so brilliant to see the unexpected variety in the landscape – such eye catching scenery from European forests through to Siberian forests, snow and desert” she said
Also what surprised them was, although not travelling in the height of the winter, the Gobi desert was covered mostly in snow and when it wasn’t snowy, the land was mostly rocky instead of sandy -only a small percent of the Gobi desert is actually sand. Throughout these rocky regions of the desert, a huge number of dinosaur relics can be found.
As self adventurers, highlights for Matt and Kate along the way included a three day horseride along the Mongolian step which proved a real eye opener for them.
“It was fascinating to see nomadic families move to greener and warmer pastures – just packing up their lives and livestock and moving in groups of three or four families to an area more sustainable” Kate said.
Away for nine weeks but spending three weeks touring Mongolia, Matt also lent a hand helping a farmer herd cattle along the way. To show their gratitude, the farmer insisted Matt and Kate accompany him home where he offered his “best yoghurt” – from a bucket just sitting outside. They thought for sure the yoghurt would render them sick for days but surprisingly were okay!
Travelling throughout Mongolia the couple do recommend employing local guides.
“Due to snow and the movement of nomadic tribes to let areas grow over with grass, the roads are ever changing and you would get hopelessly lost without a guide” Kate said.
At one stage they were blocked by a huge snowdrift and had to physically dig their way out before help arrived in the form of a local landrover which pulled their car to safety.
After this, the locals again extended their hospitality insisting on bringing them home to taste their proud home brew of warm, salty camel’s milk.
“Outside of the cities especially, the locals are so appreciative, interested in us and super friendly..
“We enjoyed tasting the local food, although you never really knew what you were ordering – one cafe had dishes called “Horse and Cart” and “The Merchant’s Daughter” ..which in fact was chocolate pancakes” Kate said.
Health wise the couple left prepared and were grateful not to experience any health issues as sometimes they were nearly three days’ drive to anywhere which could remotely help them.
Travelling for nine weeks, it’s difficult to condense such a life changing trip, but both Matt and Kate were amazed and humbled by the beauty and culture they experienced.
Travelling in September/October at the end of the tourist season, proved ideal with temperatures reaching -15 at night… instead of -40 which can occur in the Winter.
Considered the longest train journey in the world, the most extended stretch Matt and Kate spent on the train non-stop was 60 hours. Their tip is that you book both an upper and lower bunk instead of just upper bunks so you have more space to relax during the day.
“The train journey was ever-changing and we so enjoyed meeting some amazing people and glimpsing cultures and experiencing adventures we could only dream about” they said.
This report has been prepared by Travel Health Doctors, Southport.