I know now that I would gladly cave if someone asks me to reveal secrets I don’t know. I have been subjected to a specific type of torture. We pulled into the Russian border post at 1pm and we left at 6pm. You ask, what did they do in all that time? Did they question us? Did they search us? No, nothing, nada, niet. We wandered around the train for three hours and finally in the fourth hour as we began to despair the border folks boarded the train and took away our passports. Two hours later I could see them all standing outside smoking, talking, chatting while we were wasting away inside the train. I suspect they were waiting for the exact train timetable time. At the appointed hour (I can only imagine they probably have a bell inside the customs office), the guards handed back our passports and waved us on. For those preparing to go on the trip, go to the bathroom before the stop and drink sparingly during. The toilets were locked for the duration.
The landscape again rolled by and we crossed over the electrified fence at the Russian-Mongolian borer. The good thing in all this is that the so-called currency scam did not happen. In years past if you had no no previous currency declaration form from when you entered (which I didn’t), the border guards would confiscate any foreign currency. I hope and suspect that this scam no longer occurs.
You say “woo hoo Dups is free!”, but oh no not so. Now we are in Sukhbaatar on the Mongolian side. Yes, stuck on the train, the officials have our passports, again. There are armed guards on every corner of the train. I can only think they are making hand-drawn facsimiles of our passports. Border torture indeed.