27 May, 2008

Return from Mongolia (and ride South to Jinning) - Sunday 18th - Monday 19th May

'caught the night express sleeper from Ulaan Baatar to Erenhot. Shared a 4 bed compartment with a Mongolian lady and her adult nephew.

Pleasant enough experience as far as train travel goes, train seemed a little faster and smoother coming back to China (certainly a lot cheaper, at around 1/3rd the price) but I still only managd to snatch 3-4 hours sleep with all the interruptions.

By 12 noon I was back at the hotel and had collected the Haobon, just in time to get to the bank of China to change money, but of course..... catch 22 again, the bank closes from noon till 2.30pm.
So I knew I had less than 6 hours to cover the 330km from Ernhot to Jining to ensure I got there before the banks closed at 6pm. It was a good smooth ride and the Haobon was humming with a strong tail wind.

I arrive at Jinning at 5.57 with the bank manager closing the door in my face. I stuck my foot in and pleaded for assistance otherwise I would be sleeping on the street. 1 hour later and I had succeeded in changing an Aussie $100 note (this bank wouldn't take traveller's cheques). A teller then helped me find the most expensive hotel in town (my most expensive night yet at 180 yuan (or AUD$27 ). I offered him a beer for his troubles and got hit for another 24 yuan (or ten times the price if I'd purchased from a store).

Time for a good long sleep and bright early start for the long ride to Taiyuan.

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