Feb 13, 2006
Aug 29, 2006
My alarm went off and promptly got switched off. Finally getting out of bed with enough time for a quick shower (my last for 5 days) and to shove my things into the bag. My originally organized and neat packing had already gone out the window. We met with Anna downstairs who took us next door to a storage place, where we left our bags ready to be collected for our 9.30 departure to Ulaan Bataar. First stop of the day was Lenins Morseleum, we had to go through the usually rigmarole of metal detectors putting our bags in a cloakroom etc. The entrance was guarded by as fierce looking guard with a gun. What did they think we were going to do, go in there and kill him? Hats shouted the guard. Women had to cover there heads up. Originally a tradition in the Russian Othodox church. Lenin was lying in the middle of the room, a bright light shining in his face. There was something not quite real about the way he looked, we were quickly moved on before I had time to have a proper look. It was an interesting experience and not one I'm likely to repeat as there is talk of burying him in the next few years as the morseleum is expensive to maintain and not as popular as in soviet day. On exiting the morseleum we were able to go round the tombs of Russian "heroes" at the back of the morseleum where people like Yuri Gargarin were buried. This was also where Stalin was buried. Originally he was on display next to Lenin until the Khrushchev government had a re think and decided he wasn't such a nice bloke after all and moved him to the back. Displaying Lenin in this morseleum was actually against his wishes and he had originally asked to be buried in St Petersburg, Stalin had order the construction of the morseleum. A quick trip to McDonalds followed, a bit lame to given in this early in the trip but it was close and quick. Originally when Mcdonalds opened, being the first western restaurant in Russia there were queues around the block. I had mentioned to Anna about the ice sculpture exchanged that I heard about on the news. London had a ice sculpture of st Basils and Moscow one of big ben. Our Mezlely attempt at an ice sculpture had long since melted lasting only a couple of days. Moscow being a good deal colder the statue was still there. We went to have a quick look before, visiting some of the underground stations of Moscow. Not a particularly interesting thing to do but Moscow has some of the most lavishly decorated underground stations in the world. chandelier hung from the ceiling there were paintings and statues in many. The only downside was the constant pace that everyone in Moscow walked round at meaning it was hard to get a good look without being pushed out of the way. At one stage I got pushed off the tube and then back on losing a glove on to the track in the process. At -18c you don't really want to be without a glove so I saw a street vender and managed to pick up a leather pair that were sheep skin lined and far better than the ones I had for about 4 pounds. It was time to get the bags and head for the train. Yaroslavsky station was where we'd begin the 5 night voyage. Anna made sure we found the train and carriage. We said our goodbye and got on the train. I knew this was going to be an interesting journey with in 30 seconds of getting on the train. Getting to our cabin we found it to be full of black shirts and Mongolian tradesmen frantically trying to pack them away in a bag and get off the train. The idea crossed my mind that we should take a couple and set up a Jonny cash tribute band and travel around Mongolia. The thought past and the traders were gone, new ones arriving with more goods, coats, cat food, jeans sun glasses. We were the only non Mongolians on the train apart from the Russians staff. The train pulled away, we were off. I spent the remainder of the night starring out the window looking at the endless forests.