Been at the border now since 6pm. The carriage attendants told me we’ll be here for 2 hours. But it’s almost 3.5 hours now.
First, customs came up to collect our passports.
Then, for the first 2 hours, we were allowed off the train. Went to the toilet and used up most of my remaining Russian coins there (Rubles 8). Clean, but Asian squat style.
Platform is extremly clean and tidy, which also means very boring. No one selling anything. No chaos. People say there’s a shop at the end selling pot noodles and, of all things, frozen fish. I didn’t bother going, but I can’t help but wonder: Why would anyone buy frozen fish on a ride without a fridge?
After a while, we were all herded back onto the train and customs came back to hand our passports back to us.
They then asked me to stand out in the corridor while a uniformed soldier went into my compartment to search through all the nooks and crannies. Thankfully, they didn’t search our bags . Not that I have anything to hide, it’s just that with my amount of stuff and limited-sized bag, it’d be a big effort to repack again!
At the same time, the ceiling panels in the corridor were let down by the attendants. Basically, anything that can be opened is opened to prove there isn’t anything/anyone hiding there.
Still parked on the Russian side, we were then left alone again.
At about 10pm, the train chugged across the border and voila! arrived at the Mongolian border control at 10.40pm. (I have little to do. Keeping track of time is something to do.)
Before customs climbed on board, the attendants went round making us close the blinds to our windows. We’re not allowed to look outside?!
Again, officials got on and collected passports.
Then a lady came by to collect our completed customs declaration forms and made me open both lower bunks to reveal the storage space underneath. Despite of my bags and other random stuff shrewn around in it, she just had a brief glance and moved on. Seriously, if you want to smuggle something, go ahead.
We’re not allowed outside either. So they could be driving us round in a circle back to Russia for all I know…
At 11.37pm, we finally got our passports back. It’s finally over!
This border crossing took nearly 6 hours!