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31 October 2017 / leggypeggy

China from our train window

Chinese countryside

Chinese plant

We’ve just arrived in Moscow, Russia after six nights (almost seven if you count the fact we boarded at 3:37am) on three different trains. We actually left Beijing, China 10 days ago and have had overnight stays in hostels in Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia and Irkutsk and Olkhon Island in Russia.

I’ll write more about all those stops (especially Olkhon Island which is on Lake Baikal, but I thought you might like to see some of the views we had from our classy compartment on the express train out of Beijing.

You can see that the weather was quite gloomy, but it wasn’t raining. In Beijing, it’s possible some of the grey skies are caused by pollution, but China is making a big push to cut back on the use of coal. We found the air quality was vastly improved compared to the last time we were in Beijing in 2014.

Chinese road and rail


We passed plenty of farm land and transport systems, and huge towns I’d never heard of, but with countless apartment blocks. It’s important to mention that the crops had been harvested. I was pleased to see a lot of solar hot water systems (almost every roof) and wind farms, but never managed to get a half decent shot.

I couldn’t resist showing you the black rice soda crackers we bought. The packaging was too intriguing so we had to buy some. In fact we took a lot of food with us because we were told that food on the train was variable or not available at all.

Our bag of goodies included peanut butter, two kinds of crackers, many packets of instant noodles, chilli peanuts, dried garlic peas, dried broad beans (crab roe flavour?), sunflower seeds, tangerines, apples, boiled lollies, coffee, a few beers and water. Seems like our diet over the last days has mainly been made up of salt and sugar. A detox may be required.

car in farm land

Chinese farm land

I haven’t added captions to the photos—I didn’t always know what I was looking at. If you roll over an image a short description should show up. The very last image is from the Gobi desert. You can click on the smaller images to see a larger version.

P.S. I got quite a few pics of Chinese at work beside the railway and will do a separate post on that. Will also do posts on views from the train in Mongolia and Russia. Clearly I need more access to the internet! Which leads me to apologise if I missed any of your blog posts. 🙂

Silage covered for winter

Chinese countrysideChinese countrysideGobi desert


Leave a Comment
  1. beetleypete / Oct 31 2017 5:37 am

    Your pictures convey the vastness of the countries well, Peggy. I recall the pollution in Beijing was terrible, but that was in 2000. Looking forward to more of these.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. IreneDesign2011 / Oct 31 2017 6:06 am

    Your photos show many different areas and great as always, Peggy 🙂
    If you had wi-fi on the train, you wouldn’t have so much time to look out and explore.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. forwardtogloryquartet / Oct 31 2017 6:18 am

    Great reportage, Peggy. Grandeur amidst the gloom! Your shots of everyday surroundings, infrastructure, the way things work are excellent. To me there’s always something of interest (practically) everywhere. I wonder if you have any thoughts of the ‘other’ Ulan – Ude, that is. Among many things Russian, I’m keen on Stalinist architecture (nicknamed ‘vampire’ architecture). Full steam ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 31 2017 1:48 pm

      Can’t comment on Ulan Ude because we passed through in the night. But yes, I think I love everyday views from my newspaper background. Almost everything is worth a pic and some comment.


  4. Osyth / Oct 31 2017 6:36 am

    I’m such a lovely person I haven’t posted a single post since you have been away simply to assuage any potential guilt or worry that you may have missed anything. Or because I have been otherwise occupied which is the dratted truth but either way no matter. The pictures are fascinating. I have spent much time examining them. The grey skies – pollution, yes probably … will wait to see if the Chinese are true to their word about cutting back drastically on fossil fuels. My father was lecturing on the dangers in the 70s (much to my embarrassment when he came to my school but mercifully he looked like a cross between Leonard Cohen and Cary Grant and I was feted rather than ridiculed … we were young and superficial). I hope Moscow delivers. I love it but I know others how have hated it. Will be interested in your take.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 31 2017 1:52 pm

      I’m relieved to know I haven’t missed any of your posts.
      I think China is committed to cutting back. We read that 150+ local officials have been imprisoned for not meeting pollution reduction targets. Here’s another article —
      I’m delighted to know your dad was beating the danger drum long before it was fashionable. I also wish I’d seen his handsome face. Swoon!
      Moscow — so far, so good, but it would help if the rain stopped. Besides I almost never hate any place.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Osyth / Oct 31 2017 6:55 pm

        That was a really interesting article and quite set my up with a smile at the start of the day. Having the Chinese clamping down of course impacts on mining in Canberra but the greater impact on global warming is hugely heartening. My dad was a looker … had no clue that he was which caused my mother some feisty moments when he was naively conversing with a flirt or two but that was his charm. I’m like you – I tend to like most places …. it’s the explorer, you see! I’m willing it to stop raining for you though. Did you know there are bronze ducks, identical to the ones on Boston Common which were given to Raïssa Gorbachov by Barbara Bush in 1991. They are in Novodevichy Park … the monastery there is well worth a look.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Nov 1 2017 12:00 am

        My dad was a charmer too. When he died, the next door neighbour moaned ‘how can I ever look after the women like you father did?’ meant in the nicest possible way.

        Off to check out some bronze ducks. We’re doing a metro afternoon to avoid the rain.


  5. Curt Mekemson / Oct 31 2017 6:45 am

    Very interesting Peggy, although a bit dreary because of the weather/pollution. My experience has also taught me that taking photos from a moving train is always challenging. Things that caught my attention were the nuclear power plant, the individual size farming plots, the apartment buildings (hard to imagine living in one), and the last photo of that sheet shelter (quite ghostly for the season). I assume the shelter was for the animals and not the herder. Food: I might have added a few more beers. 🙂 –Curt


    • leggypeggy / Oct 31 2017 1:54 pm

      I liked those same photos. Must be remnants of my days as a newspaper report and photographer. P.S. Don’t tell my travelling companions about the bottle of scotch whiskey I bought on the sly.


      • Curt Mekemson / Nov 1 2017 7:40 am

        Mums the word on the scotch, Peggy. Otherwise it might have been vodka the whole way. 🙂 Didn’t know you had been a newspaper reporter and photographer? Plenty of stories in your photographs. –Curt

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Nov 1 2017 2:21 pm

        Not a vodka drinker so everyone else’s stash is safe. As for my old newspaper days, I worked on a small daily (circulation 12,000) and we had to wear a lot of hats. What we didn’t know, we learned. It was an amazing grounding.


  6. Mike / Oct 31 2017 8:42 am

    What the hell are ‘boiled lollies’?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vicki / Oct 31 2017 10:39 am

      (on behalf of Peggy), we call sweets ‘lollies’ in Australia. Boiled lollies are sweets made from boiling sugar and water down until it becomes thick and syrupy-looking. Usually have artificial flavourings. Made in small moulds OR cut as the viscous fluid drops from a hollow tube and about an inch in diameter roughly. Basically sugar and water. Unlike toffees which are made with sugar and butter (and nuts or flavourings). Lollies are exceptionally bad for your teeth as you generally suck the lollies leaving a sugary coating on your teeth.

      Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 31 2017 1:55 pm

      Thanks Vicki, for explaining these to Mike.


  7. Chris Riley / Oct 31 2017 9:50 am

    Are you hankering for blue skies? If I’m overseas and under grey skies for any length of time I get homesick for Australia, so I know I would be. I moved from NZ when I was 20, and funnily enough have never felt about NZ the way I feel about Australia. I go overseas from time to time, but get homesick so easily, especially if the skies aren’t blue.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 31 2017 1:56 pm

      Blue skies would be ideal, but I can deal with grey. I just wish the rain in Moscow would stop. Interferes with my photography. All that said, I am a child of the sun and blue skies.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sy S. / Oct 31 2017 11:37 am

    The photos taken from the train in China won’t exactly win any awards, but it does show the real Chinese countryside traveling toward Mongolia. We are so used to seeing colorful images of the big cities, nighttime lights and tourist attractions.

    My Russian friends always send me photos of interesting places in Moscow. Do not forget to send a few photos of the underground metro stations.. and the modern new building going up… and colorful
    St Basil Cathedral. However, St. Petersburg gets the top honors for the most beautiful Russian City. We look forward to some of your photos and commentary.

    Sy S.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 31 2017 1:58 pm

      Thanks Sy, You’re right, these photos won’t win any awards, but they do show a glimpse of life across China. I guess it’s what people see most days. In Moscow now and dodging raindrops. Heading to St Petersburg tomorrow night (my time).


  9. gerard oosterman / Oct 31 2017 12:43 pm

    Great journey, Peggy. Hope the chilli peanuts will get you to Moscow. We both love them. The photos look a bit foggy but it is is autumn up there apart from any pollution. We forget that per capita (head of population) Australian far outperform the Chinese with making pollution, but have a much bigger area to spread it.
    I remember getting a lot of charcoal grilled sardines at Moscow airport. They were lovely especial with a nice chilled Georgian white wine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 31 2017 1:59 pm

      The chilli peanuts are tops. Thanks for the tip about the sardines. I’m on the hunt. Moscow is still foggy and raining. Ugh.


  10. Lynz Real Cooking / Oct 31 2017 12:51 pm

    Wow Peggy these photos are so special! To be able to see the real way things look, not all glossy and dressed up. Its so cool to see what you were seeing out that window! Very cool! Thanks for sharing with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 31 2017 1:59 pm

      Thanks Lynn. I’d rather show it like it is than pretend it’s something different.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Miriam / Oct 31 2017 4:49 pm

    There’s something so romantic about train travel, I just love it. Looking at the vastness of the countryside as you whizz by. Thanks for giving us a glimpse too.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. thewonderer86 / Oct 31 2017 5:44 pm

    It does look a bit gloomy, but it’s still interesting just to see what it’s like.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 31 2017 11:48 pm

      Yes, we really enjoyed seeing the landscapes.


  13. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Oct 31 2017 6:11 pm

    I get the feeling that China is racing to build its country into the 21st century but leaving a blighted landscape behind. It all seems vast and desolate. Yet when I think of China, I think of its native artists painting delicate scenes of incredible beauty. What an extraordinary adventure you’ve undertaken.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 31 2017 11:50 pm

      Lots of China is a vast emptiness. Five years ago we drove across China from west to east. There were breathtaking landscapes and pure desolation. Lots of stark differences. I must post more about that trip.


  14. JunkChuck / Nov 1 2017 4:34 am

    Wow. So many places I’m not likely to ever visit show up on your pages. Thanks so much for letting us share your travels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 1 2017 4:49 am

      I enjoy having everyone’s company! Thanks for joining in.


  15. Joy Morris / Nov 4 2017 11:54 pm

    Its good seeing the way things really are, not just glossed over – yes, I can imagine the food on the train, if obtainable might be a bit questionable too. lovey pictures

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 5 2017 2:22 am

      I don’t think the food would have made us sick. Just not very tasty.


  16. Away in Autumn / Dec 11 2017 2:15 pm

    Thanks for all these photos. Hope you have an amazing trip!

    Liked by 1 person

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