Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mongolia concerns : (

After doing a bit of research on trains to/from Beijing & Ulaan Bataar, I realized that my plans for Mongolia may be compromised. I should have done this research earlier, but my weeks have been busy enjoying my time with family and friends - not planning for vacation! The train from Beijing --> Ulaan Bataar only runs once per week, on Tuesdays. The train from Ulaan Bataar --> Beijing runs only on Thursdays, and possibly Saturdays until October (no one knows for certain).

So, working out the schedule in Excel, I now find that if I do want to go to Mongolia I can stay for 7 days due to the train leaving on Thursdays and me leaving for home the following Wednesday. I'm now faced with a difficult decision, but luckily I haven't booked anything besides my airfare to Beijing. Do I go to Tibet where I can maximize my time in one region? I started comparing my options and I've come up with the following timeline, which allows me to compare the relative worth of each trip. Keep in mind, I have no clue what I'd do in Tibet; but I bet I could fill my time trekking, visiting buddhist monestaries, and relaxing. I might even be able to reach Everest base camp! (Although it would be in a vehicle, and not by hiking which is my preference. I believe that if you hike along the main route, it takes a couple of weeks to complete the trip.)

I sent a contact in Beijing an email re: the train schedule between Mongolia & Beijing - hopefully I'll get some good information back so that I can make my decision within the upcoming days.