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Thread: Winter in China 2a: Zhalai Nuer, day 1, washery and pit (50 p.)

  1. #1

    Default Winter in China 2a: Zhalai Nuer, day 1, washery and pit (50 p.)


    The video for this part can be found here:

    Let's move on to the real thing: Flight with Hainan Airlines (best service and best flight attendants of the whole journey ) 8:00 from Beijing to Manzhouli on the Russian border in the northeast of China on January 30.

    At about 11:00 we were on the final approach to Manzhouli and got a first taste of Zhalai Nuer. To the top left next to the pit bustling with steamers you can find the coal washery which we will visit first. The aerial photos were taken by our guide Bernd Seiler with my camera as he was in the window seat.

    A larger overview of Zhalai Nuer with hotel (red) and Zhalai Nuer Xi (west) railroad station (blue) just across the square. You can also recognize the mainline from Russia leading past the washery.

    The first steps out on the the Inner Mongolian steppe led right to our bus. Manzhouli is something like the Las Vegas for Siberians with hotels and skyscrapers shooting out of the ground and many inscriptions in Russian.

    From 13:00 we could take pictures at the washery where trains arrive and depart frequently and there is also a lot of shunting action. The only steamer type is SY ("Shang You" - "Aiming High"), some locos are decorated with a red star, one has big deflectors (we will see it the next day).
    The biggest challenge for me in the big cold was at first the condensation on my glasses, you just had to breath a little against an object and immediately went blind. But after a few minutes I figured out how to breath, see and take pictures at the same time...

    thick ice cover

    Here you can see the lines leading away from the washery: the mainline of the mine with grade and a gradeless track for shunting to the left. To the right the state railroad mainline passes.

    lady in red

    A fascinating pipeline across the frozen lake

    Freight train with DF4 and DF5 towards Manzhouli and Russia. Many freight trains are passing here, Chita on the Transsib is just 400 km away.

    Frozen water

    The first view of the "hole". The official entrance is just across the street from the washery. This day we were lucky, some official from the mine came out and just said we should be careful. Officially people not working in the mine are forbidden from entering the pit since they use dynamite to mine the coal (which is at least a reasonable explanation). So, if you are suddenly alone in the pit, duck for cover! ;D

    A few workers climbing out of the pit with many nice ice fall ornaments

    Sadly I had problems with the autofocus of my standard zoom since I arrived in China (so not because of the cold). The camera always showed "Error 99". In the evening I figured out how to make it work with occasional restarts of the camera and sometimes turning the zoom ring, that way I used it for the rest of the journey. But for this afternoon session I only had the tele and super wide angle at my disposal.

    At 15:30 the first workers were leaving for their shift change

    Meeting of three moving steam trains, where else do you get that?


    The series will continue with the sunset...

    Up-to-date on Twitter: https://twitter.com/raildata_info @raildata_info
    Roni's trip reports and videos:


  2. #2


    Awesome Roni
    A bad day of train chasing is better than a good day at work!
    Check out my shots at.

  3. #3


    In-freaking-credible! That mine is something short of amazing and didn't know that even existed to this day. Excellent!
    Brian Bundridge
    Puyallup, Washington
    Check out my photos on Smugmug!
    Want the latest news and information on Seattle Transit? Check out Seattle Transit Blog!
    Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad Conductor/Student Engineer

  4. #4


    Wow Roni. I always enjoy your photos.


  5. #5


    Hi guys!

    Thanks a lot!

    Up-to-date on Twitter: https://twitter.com/raildata_info @raildata_info
    Roni's trip reports and videos:


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Edmonds Washington


    As always - wonderful photos! What an amazing place - I can smell the coal smoke. These sights won't last much longer.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Somewhere in Oklahoma


    Beautiful images but what a brutal way to make a living.

    Different cake. Just as sweet.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Lincolnshire, England (recently Ptuj, Slovenia)


    Amazing lighting effects on the steam and smoke. Another incredible collection of pictures.

  9. Default

    wonderful pics! just as if i traveled by myself...

  10. #10


    The black and white photo's could be from the 50's!

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