Friday, 4 December 2009

Trans-Siberian Leg 1: Moscow to Irkusk (Siberia)

8-12 November

Our train left Moscow late on Sunday night, and it was just starting to rain as we walked up the platform for the train to Irkutsk. We were quite excited and keen to get on the train and get going, but nothing happens without the say of the Provodnitsa (Female carriage attendant), they're defintely in charge.

Don't upset the Provodnitsa!

This train takes 4 nights and 3 days through Russia and across Siberia ending up in Irkutsk. The scenery is basically snowy forest and man did it start getting cold outside. The train stops every few hours and you have time to jump off and grab food/beer etc. It was -20 at some of the stops, and snowing most of the time.

On the Train



We were travelling in 'Soft Sleeper' (2nd Class), which is a cabin with 4 bunk beds, on the 'Bailkal', a reasonably new and comfortable train. Most of the time we lived on 2 min Noodles, cooked in boiling water (which is available on all trains in Russia/China), and copious cups of tea (black and green), soup, and the odd local snack from a station - dried fish, sausage, salmon and potatoes, and at one stop, a local unpasteurised beer. At some stops, we had enough time to dash outside to see old Communist statues and murals outside the station entrances, tho a lot have disappeared recently.


3 days is a long time on a train, but we got by with a lot of reading, some rather hilarious (painful?!) conversations with our compartment-mate (a Major in the Paratroopers in the Russian Army, who teaches unarmed combat!) and one night of vodka drinking.

Nearing Siberia, we passed into Asia, and started crossing frozen rivers, which was a sign of the cold to come..

Arrived in Irkusk in the early morning, and got picked up and driven out to Lake Bikal, which I'll save for the next blog post.

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