Ugh. Back from my trip and sitting in the office again (obviously hard at work if I am posting here). For those of you who don't know, I took the train from Paris to Hong Kong.
Trip report coming soon, but generally I would say if anyone ever has the idea to take a train across two continents in only 2 weeks time, think it over. It was definately too far to travel in such a short time. Too much stuff passes by the window that you wish you could see, but it ends up just zooming past.
The cities in Russia, Mongolia and China were great though. And other than the shake down by the Mongolian police and being taken for $300 by a couple of con artists in Beijing, no real problems at all.
Glad to hear you have returned safe and sound - minus a bit of money!! Maybe it was the "man purse" that the con artists were really after...
I can't complain about the money, really. The trip was pretty cheap otherwise, and they worked really hard on conning me, putting in a full five hours of work. Therefore, $300 seems a small consolation, really. I got a meal out of it, to.
They better not have taken your Florida Meet-Up money!!!
good to have you back. Was the shake down at the Russian-Mongol border?
That sounds excellent-i know what you mean about having more time!
I'm also back at work and it sucks, speccially being in the Uk-everyone's sooooo depressing-i can't take much more!
The border crossing went without a hitch. The shakedown was in Ulaan Baator. Three police officers accused me of being drunk (which I was, but I don't think that's a crime) and started harrassing me. They searched me and took everything off me. I had been warned that the police do this, and it's really an extortion attempt. I was pretty sure I was going to have to pay to get out of it.
But then one of the dudes dropped my camera and it popped apart into 3 pieces. That seemed to destroy all their resolve, and they ended up giving me back everything without getting a cent out of me. I think they were worried that I might want to go to the station and report my camera being broken.
Either way, the good news is that my camera just popped out a couple different modular parts, and that I was able to snap it back together and it still works fine.
The scam in Beijing was a couple of students who wanted to practice English with me. They showed me around for a couple of hours, and then we went to see a tea ceremony. The bill came and it was for $330, which the students didn't have. I paid, and then we went out to dinner. I didn't even realize it was a scam until I read about it a few days later. They worked 5 hours for the money!
I'd very much look forward to reading your trip report. I remember reading a while back that you were doing this and thought it sounded fantastic; didn't realize you only had two weeks! And as for the shakedowns and scams, I've always thought as long as you get away with your saftey and not too much monetary loss, those sometimes make the best stories years down the road. Glad you made it back safe!