Hong Kong is a crossroads. A metropolitan melting pot where east meets west, island-life meets the mainland and tradition meets modernity. Look hard enough and within the high-rise buildings you’ll find little gems of architecture including Chinese temples, colonial residences and even the odd zoo. Oh and the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator, but more on that in a minute. Then there’s Kowloon, an urban sprawl that seeps out into the New Territories before connecting to Mainland China. There are also over 200 outlying Islands that can only be accessed by boat. Despite all of its diversity many people rush through Hong Kong, spending no more than a couple of days in the city before travelling onward. Take your time, no need to rush.
Let’s get one thing straight from the start, you’ve got to at least be able to tolerate trains. Preferably, you’ll have a kind of quiet delight for the idea of being gently rocked to sleep while travelling at (slow) speed through the Mongolian steppe. At the thought of having up to 5 days in front of you with nothing to do but read, watch half the world go by out of the window, walk to the dining car, walk back, and repeat.
But, aside from the time on the train, you should also be ready to experience travelling in a whole new way. To take the slow route and have a better trip because of it. Here are just a few reasons we think you should hop on board the Trans-Mongolian railway.
Just one of the routes available for the Trans-Mongolian
Any trip, however far and for however long, can be an adventure. But sometimes a journey is so brilliant, so all-encompassing, so (yes, we’re going to say it) epic, that it crosses over into something else all together.
Overland travel mixes must-see highlights with local, off the beaten track experiences that it’s tough to get by travelling any other way. We’re talking detours to a remote Ethiopian village to meet the Hamar or Mursi tribes, crossing the Bolivian altiplano, learning to cook traditional food and helping out at the local school. You know, those moments you look back on and think “that really made my time there”.
It’s the least sensible thing you can do in two weeks. It’s a mad ride across a sub-continent with nothing but three mates and three wheels. It’s a chance to get dressed up and pimp out a glorified lawn mower. It’s an excuse to raise some money for charity. It’s a ridiculous adventure like no other. It’s all this and so much more…
If you hear the phrase “wet season” and shiver, you’re not alone. Many people who’ve not experienced the region run (or fly) in the opposite direction at the thought of massive rainstorms eating away at their beach time.
But wet season also translates to ‘low season’, and savvy travellers know there are some major benefits to travelling anywhere off peak. As long as you’re aware, and take a few basic precautions, the pros of travelling this region during the low time of year can greatly outweigh the cons.
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