Saturday, 5 May 2012

Trans-Siberian Part Two

A Trans-Siberian-Mongolian Journey

A long, long Railway Journey

Part Two

Gyan C. A. Fernando

Still On The Road

The train travels rather smoothly and even at stops there is very little awkward movement. Helped by the Vodka, sleep is therefore easy.

During daytime, it is mostly an endless, flat, landscape of Beech and Pine forests. 

We stop at Nizhny Novgorod, which is on the River Volga, and which was formerly known as Gorky.
We get to Kirov and then on to Perm. Just before getting into Perm we cross the Kama River. The bridge here is quite impressive and long.

 By the time we get to Perm, we are two hours ahead of Moscow Time. The platform is full of vendors, including ladies selling vodka.

At 1777Km from Moscow and a day after leaving Moscow we cross from Europe into Asia. This spot is apparently marked by an obelisk but we didn’t see it.

Rugged Carriages

Trans Siberian, Carriage electrical compartment
Carriage electrical compartment

Trans Siberian, Carriage hand brake
Carriage hand brake
The carriages are rugged with a high loading gauge and are spacious. The doors are solid and all metal. They may lack the opulence of European trains but they are certainly solid and give a sense of security.

The toilets are basic but clean and well-looked after by the carriage attendants. There are no showers in second class but the girls in our group managed to wash their hair and clothes. 

Trans Siberian carriage attendants
Our carriage attendant

Trans Siberian carriage attendants
The brisk blonde in the other carriage
There was always hot water, a necessity in the Siberian winter, but we were traveling in summer. To keep the boiler going, our attendants collected firewood and coal at stops. Most of the rubbish was also incinerated. Very practical!

We Move On
Trans Siberian. Shawl seller and the author at Omsk
Shawl seller and the author
Trans Siberian. Omsk station
Omsk Station
This is now the second day and Christine is not feeling well. I suggest antihistamines. She lies on her bunk and I sit at the foot of her bunk.

On the second day we reached Omsk
We are now 2676 Km from Moscow and three hours ahead of Moscow time.
The corridor has been vacuumed and new carpet protectors have been laid.

At Omsk, I buy a bottle of Baltic beer. I am not sure why I wrote this information in my diary because I have had a few Balticas in Moscow and so it is nothing new.
Just before Omsk a few vendors got on the train selling shawls and other items. This relieved the boredom a bit. 

Trans Siberian: Baltic beer
Baltic beer
The landscape is still of unending Birch and Pine forests.

Life in the Carriage
I have settled in my carriage with "my" girls. I am ordered out of the compartment, good-naturedly, when the girls want to change for the night.

 I have now stopped bothering with changing for bedtime and am happy to sleep in my ordinary clothes. 
On the advice of our leader, we have the basic necessities in our small bags. Our big bags are stored out of sight and it is not easy to access them. 
Some of my stuff fall off my bunk onto Maggie’s bunk, but we are getting used to communal living on the rails!

During day time the occupants of the top bunks need to sit on the lower bunks and there is a need not to drop bread crumbs on someone else’s bed! All of us seem to get on with each other so far! We have even made friends with other passengers in our carriage.

On the instructions of our leader we wash our hands with alcoholic hand wash but I just use Vodka. It is the same thing anyway and cheaper!

By the end of the second day we arrive at Novosibirsk, 3,303 km from Moscow and three hours ahead.
Trans Siberian: Restaurant Car
The  restaurant car
The train is rapidly becoming our home. It is like being in a pleasant hostage situation!

Lycra Shorts
Meanwhile, our carriage attendant girl has got more casual although she wears her uniform most of the time. Last night she was seen in a negligee but then that was probably her bedtime. 
Now she is seen in a pair of Lycra shorts because she is vacuuming the corridor. We start referring to her as "Lycra Shorts"! 

The author

Copyright: Gyan C. A. Fernando, 2012


The photographs all belong to the author and are copyright. The rail map is from Wikipedia.
More pictures available here: Picasa 

Further Reading:
  1. The Trans-Siberian Railway (Wikipedia):
  2. The Practicalities (Wikitravel):
  3. The Trans-Siberian Route:

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