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Life on the Train

Many people will wonder what life is like on the train. If I were to cover the full 9,200 km to Vladivostok it would take a week, which would drive me a bit potty. However, even 30 hours and 1,600 km to Yekaterinburg was by far the longest train journey I’ve ever made, so what was it like? Well, in the previous post I’ve described the bewitching effect of just watching the world go by, and I’ve included a short video of that view to this post. I slept pretty well (the vodka?), and woke refreshed. It pays not to get too hung up on the exact time by the clock: the trains run on Moscow time, but Yekaterinburg is 2 hours ahead. You sleep when you’re sleepy, eat when you’re hungry. The food is fine, although not particularly modern: perfect for me. Sleep is constantly interrupted by the banging and clanging of the big train on the rails (the train is truly huge), but by the same token, that constant movement helps you get back off to sleep. I found I divided my time into reading (going over what I should have remembered about Russian history from University!), an episode or two of Morse, and pottering to the bar to get a coffee/beer.

One of the most interesting parts of the trip is to meet your “fellow travellers” (they are so keen on that phrase in these parts). Whilst I had a cabin to myself, there was plenty of time to chat to others. There was the delightful couple, he from Ireland, she from Switzerland who had met on a minibus tour of the US and were on a long date across Russia, an older Russian with a glamorous but high maintenance girlfriend, and two sisters who taking a break from their respective families who seemed to just want to drink and smoke constantly (there are no restrictions on smoking here). Then there are the provodnitsii, the ladies that run the train. One quickly realises that any questions they ask are really instructions – I will have lunch at 12, and it will be borscht and chicken. There was much cackling as they tried to coax some Russian out of me and vodka into me – I ingested rather more than I transmitted, I’m afraid.

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