'The Train Across Half of Russia'

Trip Start May 30, 2005
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5
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Trip End Sep 30, 2006


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Flag of Russia  ,
Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Choo Choo, all aboard for the train enthusiasts amongst you.

4 nights, 3 days, 77 hours on board a train with stops of no more that 25 minutes 2 or 3 times a day. No Showers, no personal space, limited communication with your 'Comrade' in the bunk above you, playing cards all day, watching the world go by from your window. Is this what prison's like?

No I jest. It was an absolute blast. Everything in the previous paragraph was completely true, but in a nice way. Myself and Shannon shared a cabin with Vladimeer and Ivan who were both off to Vladivostok (7 days!!!). Vlad was 'An officer of the Russian Army' who's favourite sayings were 'Sit Down Please', 'Thank You' and 'You're Welcome'. Ivan was a bit more of a mystery, perhaps he was a spy? I suspect that he did something in the Military and all the Ruskies that travelled between Moss Cow and Vvvvstock seemed to do that. He was a keen chess player though and kept on asking me to play, and whenever I beat him he'd want to play again.

I thought that I'd get loads of time to read my book but my days just seemed to fill up with 'stuff'. Our favourite past time was playing cards. Mostly the same game, altough I met a Canadian Guy and Swedish Girl that taught me a Russian game called 'Roma' which we then played with the Ruskies in their cabin. For two hours straight I kept on loosing, it was such a simple game, but there was some tactic that I just didn't get. When I eventually managed to finish a game without being last (and therefore not having to deal) there was a huge cheer in the cabin.

Often in the Afternoon I'd get back to the cabin to find Vlad and Ivan tucking into some sausage and beer, this is when Vlad would say 'Sit Down Please' before forcing me to share the goodies that he'd bought at the last stop. Oooh, If I must! The scenery was pretty great as well, there was loads of forest all the way along, I just can't comprehend how many trees we must have passed as we wizzed our way across 5 time zones. This was probably my least favourite pastime. The short stops were great, you'd hop off and have a quick look up and down the station. Most of these were amazingly similar, Soviet Style. You'd be haranged and harrassed by the babushkas (old ladies) selling stuff on the platform, this is where Vlad got his sausage from. Loads of them had gold teeth, I don't think that I've seen some many Gold teeth in my life before. They'd then be an annoucement in Russian on the platform followed by the Ruskies getting on board. This would then be followed by the tourists getting on board following the Ruskies fearing being stuck in the middle of Siberia with no more than a passport and 1000 Rubles.

The other weird thing that happened on the train was a case of Train Lag. Even though we were on the train for over 3 days we kept our watches and sleeping habits at Moscow time, which meant the it got darker earlier each day. I woke during the second night thinking it was morning and time to get up as the light was streaming through my window. But no, it was only 2:30AM. On hindsight we should have moved our clocks forward with the train, but the stupid foriegners didn't think of that. In the end we had to leave the train in Irkusk at 2:30AM, which was really 7:30AM. Even though we left the train at such an awful time in the morning Vlad and Ivan were both up and saw us off the train in order to say goodbye to them. They were really fantastic people and we were really lucky to get such great cabin mates. So I've survived my first long leg of the Trans-Sib with all of my personal posessions intackt. I reckon that's a cause to celebrate.

Till next time kids, be safe.

Ron.
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Comments

davidmacc
davidmacc on

The race to Beijing
That's quite a head start you have there young man! Sounds great so far - keep the updates coming. Glad to see you're flying the flag for Scottish chess players too. Russia isn't a major chess playing nation though.... is it?! Love - Dave and Nic, see you in 17 days, last to China buys the first round of rice wine!

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