The Trans-Siberian railway, part 1
18.09.2007 - 22.09.2007 12 °C
We were not the only ones waiting for the train. The hall at the station was pretty crowded. A military woman with a mean looking dog was kicking out the drunks who were trying to get a rest inside for a while. The track from which our train would be departing came up on the board and many started moving towards the tracks. A large group of policemen stood in the doors where we had to pass and picked out some people to check their papers but not us.
Outside, waiting to get on the train, we met a couple of large groups of Swedes. We got the impression that there were many foreigners, actually more than Russians, who were going with the train.
We shared our cabin with a very nice Swedish couple, Robert and Emma, who were just starting an approximately 9 month long trip through Russia, China, South-East Asia and hopefully Tibet too.
We were traveling in the last part of the train, the Russian cars where all passengers with destinations in Russia were. Food was distributed (some crackers, sausage and tea for breakfast and a small lunch box for lunch) only to these passengers. These were also the oldest and most worn down cars but as it turned out, with the best heating! The first night I was sweating like a bull even though I slept in shorts and a t-shirt. The second night I was a bit more clever and slept without the blanket and it was ok. And as we traveled further east it got a bit colder and soon the temperature in our car was perfect while others were complaining about the cold. Other cars were the Chinese, a bit more modern, cars with a lot of staff. Then there was the first class cars, which I think also were in the Chinese part of the train.
We didn’t know what to expect food wise, so we had bought some food before getting on the train. Some bread, marmalade, nuts and dried fruits, water, and some fruits. When the train stopped the first time we picked up some juice, cookies and bread and with the lunch boxes we didn’t manage to finish everything before getting off in Irkutsk. At many of the stops food was available in many forms or shapes, dried fish, pastries, cookies, fruits, bread, or entire meals.
The train was pretty punctual. There was a timetable on the wall detailing all the stops with minute precision. To our surprise the train kept quite punctual and only at the end was it a little behind schedule. The stops were very precise and always between 15 and 23 minutes. Some people almost were left behind at a station with a 15 min stop as they had to wait in the kiosk queue. It was really interesting to watch people and just see everything that was going on. The stops were about every three hours or so and the highlight of the day.
There were no showers but we had two bathrooms in our car. There was a sink and it wasn’t too difficult to keep clean and relatively fresh.
We played some board games, read a lot, talked more, looked out the windows, took photos here is some of what we saw:
Then we ate, slept and generally just enjoyed each others company. It was great! The time flew and all of a sudden we were in Irkutsk!!!
Bye for now and take care!!!!!!!
Fredrik and Sabrina