Beijing to Kiev by rail

A friend and I took a wonderful 24-day train trip, July 3-26, ’05, out of Beijing, China, to Ulan Bator, Mongolia; Irkutsk and Moscow, Russia, and finally (overnight) to Kiev, Ukraine.

This was a real experience, without one glitch, and it was all arranged by Tim at T.E.I. Tours & Travel (Box 23784, Pleasant Hills, CA 94523; phone 925/825-6104 or visit Tim and I had many friendly chats over the phone, and he was always so willing to help.

Tim prepared a special itinerary for the two of us. On the trans-Mongolian and trans-Siberian legs there was a driver at each stop to meet us and take us to our hotel. The following day an English-speaking guide would pick us up for a city tour.

A highlight was our flight on Air Mongolia to the South Gobi for several nights in a ger. Upon returning, we spent a day at the opening ceremonies of the Nadaam Festival in Ulan Bator.

Originally, we arranged a trip from Beijing to Moscow for about $4,200. We then added on the overnight train and three days in Kiev for an additional $680. The price included buffet breakfast each morning in our hotel; all meals in the South Gobi Desert, with our guide with us the whole time; admittance to the Naadam Festival and a big banquet in the evening; museums in Ulan Bator and Irkutsk; a full day with a guide in Moscow; a guide in Kiev for a 3-hour tour, and drivers who picked us up at the train stations (in a Mercedes or Land Cruiser). There was no food on the trains; we took our own.

Airfare was not included, and one-way trips are costly. I flew to Beijing one way on United and then from Paris to Los Angeles on Air France for a total of, for me, $2,400.

The trip was well worth it! We highly recommend T.E.I. Tours, and if you’re planning a trip such as ours, please give us a call also: Cathy Sullivan at 619/276-3961 or Ina Lima at 865/694-5033.

INA LIMA, Knoxville, TN