“When I was growing up, my parents told me, ‘Finish your dinner. People in China and India are starving.’ I tell my daughters, ‘Finish your homework. People in India and China are starving for your job.” Thomas Friedman
After spending our first four hours in China sitting at the Erenhot Train Station starting from 10pm , we re-boarded the train with our new wheels a little before 1am. The Chinese railway system uses smaller guage tracks. Everyone must depart from the train with their luggage, proceed through passport immigration, security, then sit and wait. The scheduled five hour stop allows the train to change the wheels on all of the cars. The engine and restaurant cars are switched out. You cannot venture away from the station. Everything is closed except one small convenience store.
Within minutes of getting back to our cabin we fell asleep, clothes and all. At two in the morning the train left the station, we never woke up until eight. By the time we lifted the blinds, the Gobi Desert now long gone, gave way to an endless landscape of agriculture.
Can you see the Great Wall on the mountain?
modern cities and occasional older dilapidated area
The train actually passes through where the The Great Wall once patrolled. We actually traveled along the Wall for about ten miles from the train. Once it did expose itself as it climbed a mountain to our north.
In each of the three countries, the dining car on the train belongs to the country in which you are traveling. For the first time we now have a Chinese dining car on our Chinese train. They even provided a free meal to first class passengers. Even at no cost, the meal was not worth it, truly horrible.
About three hours outside of Beijing the terrain changed again. Mountains appeared.
We arrived at the main Beijing station, ready for a week to explore the country.