After spending a few days in Beijing, I was on the move westward again - between Beijing and Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia. The train was of a high quality - I'd paid a little extra, and upgraded to first class, and ended up with a compartment to myself!
A few miles outside Beijing the train heads into the hills, and you pass through the line of the Great Wall of China, even at 8:30am there seemed to be a lot of tourists on the wall.
Each carriage has an attendant - a provodniitsa in Russian, their primary aim is to take tickets, open the doors at stations, ensure that passengers are onboard when the train moves off, and some cleaning duties. However the provodniitsa from Beijing to Ulan Bator was more interested in how much stuff she could smuggle across the border, and how many different places she could hide the contraband.
I'd been spoiled with food in China, both the boat, and my hotel had produced some great food, and of course I'd had some Peking duck - but the food in the dining car was a bit of a let down. The chicken was nothing to write home about, but at least it wasn't expensive! In the end I decided to break open some of the instant noodles that I'd brought in Beijing.
Each carriage has a Samovar, a water heater that's cared for by the provodniitsa, some are electric, but the older ones are wood burning, so there's always a good supply of hot water for tea and noodles!