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29 May 2020 – Tour cancellations for the Golden Eagle Luxury Trains

CORONAVIRUS TRAVEL ADVICE

We recognise the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is extremely unsettling and that you will have major concerns about whether you should travel on your holiday. We are actively monitoring the situation to ensure the safety of all travellers. In particular we will be following the guidance for all travel to our featured destinations including Russia and Mongolia principally from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and US State Department directives. We appreciate the situation is unpredictable and fast-moving.

Our passengers’ health and well-being is always our top priority and we will continue to closely monitor this situation and will provide individual updates regarding the status of each tour to our guests as there are new updates released by the relevant government authorities in each country. If there is specific government advice to stop going to a particular destination in those circumstances you will receive a full refund or the option to change your booking to a later departure.

With regret we have taken the decision to cancel all 2020 Trans-Siberian departures due to the severe travel restrictions imposed by multiple governments throughout the world. All passengers affected have been or will be contacted within the next 72 hours and offered to amend to the corresponding departure in 2021, a credit for a future tour held at the 2020 price or refund.

We will review all other 2020 departure dates from September 24 onwards in chronological order at a point between 75 and 60 days before departure and advise guests accordingly.

Thank you for your patience and understanding in these unprecedented times.

 

25 May 2020 – Lonely Planet

When can I travel again? How different countries are preparing for the return of tourism

Countries are grappling with how to safely resume tourism as coronavirus numbers recede. Last week the European Union called for a safe reopening of borders between member states with similar rates of COVID-19 infections. And countries and regions around the world who have claimed success in managing the virus are taking concrete steps to reopen hotels and hospitality facilities, and establish safe travel zones.

But due to the unpredictable nature of the virus, policies could change at the last minute if there’s a potential risk of a rise in infections. Our ability to travel for leisure over the next few months will be impacted by each government’s public health advice; trace and test capabilities; border protocols, and social distancing laws. For now, as travel restrictions are eased, here’s a look at how tourism may resume this year. 

Read the full article at Lonely Planet

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Fully referenced facts about Covid-19, provided by experts in the field, to help our readers make a realistic risk assessment. (Regular updates below)

“The only means to fight the plague is honesty.” Albert Camus, La Plague (1947)

Overview

  1. According to data from the best-studied countries and regions, the lethality of Covid19 is on average about 0.2%, which is in the range of a severe influenza (flu) and about twenty times lower than originally assumed by the WHO.
  2. Even in the global “hotspots”, the risk of death for the general population of school and working age is typically in the range of a daily car ride to work. The risk was initially overestimated because many people with only mild or no symptoms were not taken into account.
  3. Up to 80% of all test-positive persons remain symptom-free. Even among 70-79 year olds, about 60% remain symptom-free. Over 95% of all persons show mild symptoms at most.
  4. Up to one third of all persons may already have a certain background immunity to Covid19 due to contact with previous coronaviruses (i.e. common cold viruses).
  5. The median or average age of the deceased in most countries (including Italy) is over 80 years and only about 1% of the deceased had no serious preconditions. The age and risk profile of deaths thus essentially corresponds to normal mortality.
  6. In most Western countries, 50 to 70% of all extra deaths occurred in nursing homes, which do not benefit from a general lockdown. Moreover, in many cases it is not clear whether these people really died from Covid19 or from extreme stress, fear and loneliness.
  7. Up to 50% of all additional deaths may have been caused not by Covid19, but by the effects of the lockdown, panic and fear. For example, the treatment of heart attacks and strokes decreased by up to 60% because many patients no longer dared to go to hospital.
  8. Even in so-called “Covid19 deaths” it is often not clear whether they died from or with coronavirus (i.e. from underlying diseases) or if they were counted as “presumed cases” and not tested at all. However, official figures usually do not reflect this distinction.
  9. Many media reports of young and healthy people dying from Covid19 turned out to be false: many of these young people either did not die from Covid19, they had already been seriously ill (e.g. from undiagnosed leukaemia), or they were in fact 109 instead of 9 years old.
  10. The normal overall mortality per day is about 8000 people in the US, about 2600 in Germany and about 1800 in Italy. Influenza mortality per season is up to 80,000 in the US and up to 25,000 in Germany and Italy. In several countries Covid19 deaths remained below strong flu seasons.
  11. Regional increases in mortality may be influenced by additional risk factors such as high levels of air pollution and microbial contamination, as well as a collapse in the care for the elderly and sick due to infections, mass panic and lockdown. Special regulations for dealing with the deceased sometimes led to additional bottlenecks in funeral or cremation services.
  12. In countries such as Italy and Spain, and to some extent the UK and the US, hospital overloads due to strong flu waves are not unusual. In addition, up to 15% of doctors and health workers were put into quarantine, even if they developed no symptoms.
  13. The often shown exponential curves of “corona cases” are misleading, as the number of tests also increased exponentially. In most countries, the ratio of positive tests to tests overall (i.e. the positive rate) remained constant at 5% to 25% or increased only slightly. In many countries, the peak of the spread was already reached well before the lockdown.
  14. Countries without curfews and contact bans, such as Japan, South Korea or Sweden, have not experienced a more negative course of events than other countries. Sweden was even praised by the WHO and now benefits from higher immunity compared to lockdown countries.
  15. The fear of a shortage of ventilators was unjustified. According to lung specialists, the invasive ventilation (intubation) of Covid19 patients, which is partly done out of fear of spreading the virus, is in fact often counterproductive and damaging to the lungs.
  16. Contrary to original assumptions, various studies have shown that there is no evidence of the virus spreading through aerosols (i.e. particles floating in the air) or through smear infections (e.g. on door handles, smartphones or at the hairdresser).
  17. There is also no scientific evidence for the effectiveness of face masks in healthy or asymptomatic individuals. On the contrary, experts warn that such masks interfere with normal breathing and may become “germ carriers”. Leading doctors called them a “media hype” and “ridiculous”.
  18. Many clinics in Europe and the US remained strongly underutilized or almost empty during the Covid19 peak and in some cases had to send staff home. Numerous operations and therapies were cancelled, including some organ transplants and cancer screenings.
  19. Several media were caught trying to dramatize the situation in hospitals, sometimes even with manipulative images and videos. In general, the unprofessional reporting of many media maximized fear and panic in the population.
  20. The virus test kits used internationally are prone to errors and can produce false positive and false negative results. Moreover, the official virus test was not clinically validated due to time pressure and may sometimes react to other coronaviruses.
  21. Numerous internationally renowned experts in the fields of virology, immunology and epidemiology consider the measures taken to be counterproductive and recommend rapid natural immunisation of the general population and protection of risk groups. The risks for children are virtually zero and closing schools was never medically warranted.
  22. Several medical experts described vaccines against coronaviruses as unnecessary or even dangerous. Indeed, the vaccine against the so-called swine flu of 2009, for example, led to sometimes severe neurological damage and lawsuits in the millions.
  23. The number of people suffering from unemployment, psychological problems and domestic violence as a result of the measures has skyrocketed worldwide. Several experts believe that the measures may claim more lives than the virus itself. According to the UN millions of people around the world may fall into absolute poverty and famine.
  24. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden warned that the “corona crisis” will be used for the massive and permanent expansion of global surveillance. The renowned virologist Pablo Goldschmidt spoke of a “global media terror” and “totalitarian measures”. Leading British virologist professor John Oxford spoke of a “media epidemic”.
  25. More than 500 scientists have warned against an “unprecedented surveillance of society” through problematic apps for “contact tracing”. In some countries, such “contact tracing” is already carried out directly by the secret service. In several parts of the world, the population is already being monitored by drones and facing serious police overreach.

Much more at:

Facts about Covid-19

“The world is very good at tracing Coronaviruses back through their generations and China has done so and now it seems the shit is about to hit the fan.”

https://www.unz.com/article/last-man-standing/

Russia to ban entry for foreign nationals until May: Government Press Service

The Russian government has decided to temporarily restrict the entry of foreigners into the country to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The rules will come to force on Wednesday and will last until May 1.

According to the government’s press service, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin held a series of telephone conversations on Sunday and Monday to explain the measure to leaders of neighboring states.

“The measures taken by Russia comply with the recommendations of the World Health Organization, are the result of special circumstances and are absolutely temporary,” the report said.

Exceptions will be made for for diplomats & those “residing permanently in Russia,” along with some other categories such crews of aircraft. International truck drivers and people attending funerals will also be exempt. 

Earlier on Monday, some Moscow media outlets had speculated that the government was considering completely closing the borders of Russia. On the same day, the European Union introduced a similar measure.

The reports came after the frontier with Belarus was partially shut, despite the two countries having a “union state” agreement. The move drew protest from Minsk with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko saying it was a pointless move.

“If you follow the Russian logic, you need to close its borders regionally: to separate the Far East, Siberia, the Urals, to separate the Caucasus, to draw a border somewhere in the north of the European part of Russia,” he lamented. “Russia is huge, half the world (sic).”

As of the evening of March 16, the number of coronavirus cases in the world exceeded 174,000, of which more than 5,700 were fatal. In Russia, the number of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 reached 93 people, with no deaths so far. 

 

European Commission suggests restricting all non-essential travel to EU for 30 days over coronavirus

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has rolled out coronavirus containment recommendations to all member states, including the banning of all “non-essential” travel to the EU for a month.

“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus. Therefore … I propose to the heads of state and government [that they] introduce a temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU,” von der Leyen said on Monday.

The travel ban would last for an “initial period” of 30 days, but can be prolonged if necessary, she added.

Long-term EU residents and family members of EU nationals, as well as diplomats and doctors battling the virus, will be exempted from the travel ban.

Apart from that, the guidelines suggest that emergency medical and food supplies into the bloc are provided with special “fast lanes” to ensure that supermarkets and health institutions are able to cope with the growing demand.

The travel ban will also not affect UK citizens, despite London’s decision to leave the bloc.

“The UK citizens are European citizens, so of course there are no restrictions for the UK citizens to travel to the continent,” von der Leyen stated.

The proposed measures are expected to be discussed – through a video conference – by the EU Council on Tuesday. It remains to be seen how exactly the plan will be implemented – if approved by the bloc members altogether. Such travel ban would require participation of the visa-free Schengen Zone member-states that are not a part of the bloc. It also remains unclear whether the EU states that are not within the Schengen will have to join it or not.

The EU Commission proposals also suggest the re-introduction of controls on the internal borders between the member states. The health screening would be conducted only on one side of the border, to prevent people from being tested twice and thus minimizing the large queues that carry an increased danger of spreading the virus.

Several EU nations have already ramped up controls at their borders with other bloc members in a bid to slow down the spread of the virus. Earlier on Monday, Berlin suspended visa-free travel on its land borders with France, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and Luxembourg. Foreigners without a “valid reason to travel,” as well as those suspected of being infected with Covid-19, are now being turned away. Cross-border commuters and cargo, however, have been exempted from Germany’s restrictions.

Border control was also increased by Portugal, which suspended air and rail traffic with Spain for a month. The latter locked down its land borders as well, letting in only Spanish citizens, long-term residents, cross-border workers and people with “justified emergencies.”

Last week, the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), which said Europe was now the hotspot of the disease. On Monday, the global health watchdog that the number of the confirmed cases worldwide has already surpassed those within China. So far, over 170,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed worldwide, including some 6,700 deaths.

Should I cancel my travel plans in light of the coronavirus outbreak?

The coronavirus outbreak has left people around the world wondering whether they should cancel or postpone pending travel plans. If you’re one of the many people feeling anxious about an upcoming trip, remember that while your decision to stay or go should always prioritize safety, you should remain up to date on the latest developments of COVID-19.

More on Lonely Planet

03.03.2020:

  • Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME: At its meeting on February 26, the State Emergency Commission made a decision to extend the suspension of traffic movements between Ulaanbaatar and 21 aimags until 8 a.m. March 3 – this mostly relates to inner Mongolian travelling and is also connected with  Mongolians celebrating their Lunar New Year during this time period.

This restriction on the local transport was until this morning and it is no longer applicable. All local transport (local flights, buses) are now operating and roads between provinces are open , albeit with additional roadblocks/checks which may cause delays to some journeys.

A couple of additional things though :

  • Flights to Irkutsk and Ulan Ude are suspended from 02.03.2020 until 11.03.2020
  • Train borders remain open between Russia and Mongolia.
  • Trains no 4 / 2 (only direct carriages going to China via Manchuria) between Moscow and Beijing (or Vladivostok) were suspended until 02.03.2020

We were waiting for some official information about this yesterday and today . Nothing was announced and with current information we understand this will remain the case until 01.04.2020.

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28.02.2020:

  • Trains no 4 / 2 (only direct carriages going to China via Manchuria) between Moscow and Beijing (or VV) were suspended until 02.03.2020 – we are waiting for any official update on Monday (02.03.2020 ) . It is expected now this will be extended to the end of March (31.03.2020)
  • International trains are suspended from Ulan Bator to Beijing, Erlian, Jinin, Huh Hot and from Beijing, Erlian, Jinin, Huh Hot to Ulan Bator till 03.03.2020 – It is expected to be extended to the end of March (31.03.2020 ) – To be reconfirmed
  • International buses are suspended from and to Ulan Bator till 03.03.2020
  • Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ At its meeting on February 26, State Emergency Commission made a decision to extend the suspension of traffic movements between Ulaanbaatar and 21 aimags until 8 a.m. March 3 – this is mostly relates to inner Mongolian travelling and is also connected with  Mongolians celebrating their Lunar New Year during this time period.
  • Flights connecting Mongolia and the Republic of Korea (Seoul) are suspended until 11.03.2020
  • Flights connecting Mongolia and Japan (Tokyo) are suspended from 28.02.2020 until 11.03.2020
  • Trains connecting Russia and Mongolia as well as flights connecting Moscow/Berlin and Mongolia are still operating.
  • Mongolia temporarily restricted the entry of foreign nationals and stateless persons who have travelled to the Republic of Korea, Italy and Japan in the past 14 days, effective from 28.02.2020
  • Russia stopped the train running between Moscow and Nice with attached carriages to Brest – both directions.
  • Trains connecting Moscow and Paris, Berlin run as per the standard timetable .
  • Russia suspended flights to the Republic of Korea effective from 01.03.2020. Aeroflot, S7 and Yakutia airlines will carry on flying there on a limited basis. Only Koreans will be transported to and only Russians and Europeans will be transported out. This regime will be valid until all foreign nationals are transported out of the country.
  • Russia limits flights to Iran due to Coronavirus

Corona Virus

In accordance with the letter as made by the chief state sanitary doctor of the Russian Railways dated 02.02.2020 and in order to avoid corona virus infection to the territory of the Russian Federation, the decision is made to stop passenger trains and direct passenger carriages connection China and Russia effecting on 03.02.20 from 00 hrs and 00 minutes.

Trains are :

-train no 3/4 Beijing to Moscow – as belongs to Chinese Railways
-train 320/20 – 19/319 – Zabaikalsk – Beijing
-direct carriages Moscow to Beijing running as a part of trains No 2/1, 320/319 and 20/19 / direct carriages Moscow to Beijing that departed Moscow on 01.02 will travel till Zabaikalsk only

This is to confirm that there will be a temporarily stop of rail transport in between Russia and China.

Also please see this message as stated earlier by RZD :

Temporary restrictions on rail links with China

In accordance with Order No. 25 issued by Russia’s Federal Rail Transport Agency on 30 January 2020, from 00:00 (local time) on 31 January to 1 March 2020, passenger rail services via checkpoints at certain parts of the state border between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China have been temporarily suspended due to the corona virus.
During this period, the international passenger train No. 402/401 Suifenhe – Grodekovo, which is operated by Chinese Railways and passes through the railway border checkpoint at Grodekovo – Suifenhe, has been cancelled, as has the direct group of carriages operated by Russia’s Federal Passenger Company along the Chita – Manzhouli route via the border crossing point at Zabaikalsk – Manzhouli.
International rail links with China remain operative along the Moscow-Beijing route.
We remind passengers that unused tickets for cancelled trains and direct carriages booked and issued at Russian points of sale can be returned without incurring any charges or fees.

We are travelling for 30 days along the Trans-Siberian Railway route.

Follow our journey from Vladivostok to Moscow on Facebook and YouTube.

We try to post what we can, with more to come after our trip.

Vladivostok – Ulan-Ude – Listvyanka – Olkhon Island on Lake Baikal – Irkutsk – Krasnoyarsk – Tomsk – Novosibirsk – Ekaterinburg – Kazan – St. Petersburg – Moscow

From May 7th 2019 till the 5th of June.

Videos on YouTube by Hans Kemp – http://www.hanskemp.com

Monkey Ambassador!

Just called my friend Heinz Stücke who informed me of this Kickstarter fund raising for a docu on his unmatched accomplishments! (Expires Dec 12th 2018)
We first met in the early nineties, getting him his Mongolian visa, and been regularly meeting up ever since.
Heinz turns 79 next January and lives in Hövelhof, Germany. Because of a bad hip, he can’t cycle anymore, but spends his days in his extensive archives and relics of a most remarkable life as the ultimate traveller!

NEW MONKEYSHRINE – 18th of March 2018

Our new website is finally up and running! Yep, the one you’re looking at now! 🙂
A huge amount of detailed information you could find on our previous version is no longer available. We hope this will make it easier to navigate and find the essential info you’re looking for. Please don’t hesitate to ask us about anything Trans-Siberian related! We’re glad to share almost 30 years of experience with you!
We’ll work on some further additions and improvements. If you find any issues, have suggestions, or missed something, please let us know – thanks.

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Robert Storey, Lonely Planet author. 1992 at Monkey Business HQ in Hong Kong

ROBERT STOREY –  December 2016

Robert Storey, one of the early Lonely Planet authors, passed away in Taiwan late December 2016! 🙁
He always visited our office/apartment in Chunky Mansion when he was in Hong Kong.
We kept each other up to date and had many meals and restaurant visits together.

He teached me how to use some basic DOS commands to send the first primitive emails, and later helped us setting up the first CompuServe account.

When I traveled with my then girlfriend Chris to Mongolia to explore the country for our first MAT (Mongolian Adventure Tour), he came along, disappearing in each little Som we stopped to find the post office and other important buildings to make frantic notes for the very first Lonely Planet guide on Mongolia. BTW – most of the pix used in that edition are mine! Pioneering days indeed!

He was a great guy, and I’m grateful he was my friend and for all the time and travel adventures we shared.

By Chris Taylor
http://www.christaylorwriter.com/robert-storey/

By David Frazier
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/feat/archives/2017/01/05/2003662528

SOCIAL MEDIA filed 1st November 2016

Keep up to date with the latest gossip on the Trans-Siberian network on our social pages, for example this recent post found on The Telegraph website was a hit on our Facebook page.

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RUSSIAN EMBASSY BEIJING filed 1st May 2016

We have heard that the Russian Embassy in Beijing is currently only admitting tourists for visa applications by appointment (it is very busy with Chinese students applying for study visas at the moment). You may find it easier to use a visa agent, we can help if you book with us.

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CHANGES TO VISA RULES FOR MONGOLIA filed 1st January 2016

In 2014 the Mongolian government relaxed the visa regime and most European and South American’s could travel to Mongolia visa free. However this rule was only valid until December 31st 2015 and this special exemption has now expired. This means that only a select few (Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, US, etc) can travel visa free and most nationals will now need to arrange a Mongolian visa in advance. See more on our visa page.

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