From UU to UB by Bus.

It’s time to leave my beloved Russia and head to Mongolia. After travelling one month by train it would have been coherent to keep on doing it until Mongolia’s capital but train from Ulan Ude on Trans-Mongolian railway runs only few times a week and for next days is fully booked so, the only remaining option is bus. Bus ready to leave in Ulan UdeTheoretically this way I should save a lot of time. Ride by train from UU (Ulan Ude) to UB (UlaanBaatar) takes 24 hours, with at least 10 spent at the border. Bus, instead, takes only 12 hours but this is “on paper”, because, as the official website says, all depends on traffic, your “karma” (!) and border control. Landscape in RussiaBus leaves from main bus station in Ulan Ude around 7:30 AM. I bought ticket on-line and I collect it two days in advance from the official reseller: UU Hostel. From my guest house bus station would be at a walkable distance without luggage but with the heavy ones I have, much better taking a taxi. Atmosphere around the bus is quite sparkling. I think everybody is eager to reach Mongolia for coming back home as two girls I met that study in Moscow & St.Petersburg and of course tourists like me. For those ones also the long trip by bus through the Mongolian steppes is a reason to be thrilled enough. Then, let’s go!

Crossing the border.

Bus leaves on time. Initial route is going westward matching more or less the one done the day before by the bus I took to go to the Buddhist Monastery in Ivolga. Afterward it turns left to finally go south. Informative sign at Russian borderAfter about two hours there is a first break, quite a short one, in a village called Guusynozyorsk. There’s not much to do here due to lack of time but also because available goods are not so tempting. I grab a coffee on the fly and a pack of cookies. The border is not that far in kilometres but nevertheless there is still one hour to go. It is almost noon when finally Russian side of the frontier is reached and I’m able to happily post the following tweet:

Well, my hope for a fast crossing procedure is absolutely misplaced. Beside the incredibly slow operation I also have to manage complaints for Ukrainian stamps on my passport. Of course they can’t do anything but this costs 10 more minutes of delay. A drop in the sea compared to the total two-hours time needed to complete the overall procedure. However, in the end I’m finally in no-man’s land between the two sides of the border and I celebrate this with a second tweet.

Operations on Mongolian side are a bit faster but not exactly smooth. There is a huge amount of people. Administrative building at Mongolian BorderThere are several buses in the area and furthermore I think there are also people crossing border on foot. I read somewhere that there are shuttle buses going just to the border, at least in Russia. As I expected my visa is causing some problem. It is handwritten not printed and the guard asks then for support to his boss. Thanks to the foresight of the honorary consul in Bucharest, I have also an additional paper stating that mine is a real visa and that I paid for it. I show it and, even with doubtful faces, police allows me to enter Mongolia. This deserves another twitter celebration.

Road to Ulaanbaatar is still long and we left Ulan Ude already more than six hours ago. Everything seems to show that there is no good karma today and total travel time will exceed the optimistic estimation of 10 hours. And an additional confirmation is coming soon.

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