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Last Leg of Trans Mongolian

RUSSIAN FEDERATION | Sunday, 8 April 2007 | Views [1191] | Comments [1]

The Chita to Moscow service no. 349. A locals train. Most of the tourists travel the lower numbered trains and I think they might miss out on some of the fun too.

The Chita to Moscow service no. 349. A locals train. Most of the tourists travel the lower numbered trains and I think they might miss out on some of the fun too.

Three days and four nights on the train from Irkutsk to Moscow......and didn't I need a decent shower!! The trains only have a toilet with enough room to move around to have a towel bath and splash a bit of water around. Not quite the same. I got to the train station and found my carriage like the train travel veteran that I now am (I asked an old lady to point the way after reading my ticket and a bit more sign language). Just as I got to my carriage a russian lady stepped out of the carriage carrying a toy dog that was a nasty bit of work. The dog did the trip all the way to Moscow with a litter tray in their compartment and regular walks on the platforms at each stop trying to eat the hawkers. Next thing I know a little guy wearing a provodsnitsa uniform reaches out for my ticket. Great!! The wagon in front has the nicest looking, and smiling, female running the carriage and I get this guy who looks like the shorter out of the Two Ronnies with no hair and a huge scab across his scalp (maybe the dog got him). He started to speak in russian and all I could see was gold teeth. I told him I only speak english and he flashed a full mouth of gold teeth and said in english "no matter". I found out over the next three days that that was roughly half of his english vocabulary. On to the cabin and I'm sharing with Leonard, a russian portrait artist, for the next few hours. He stepped off at Angarsk and Sergey was poured in. The closest he got to sober over the next two nights was when he woke up and reached for a can that was never far away. The guy speaks no english except "ganga doo". That was the reaction I got when I opened my guide book and pointed to Australia on the map and then pointed at me. Got to love the sign laguage, eh? We had some good laughs trying to work out what each other was saying, shared a beer or seven, and got given his phone number before he got off at Omsk. Now that would be an interesting phone conversation. I had the four berth compartment to myself for the next few hours, then at Yekateringburg Li'In stepped on for the next two nights to Moscow. She is a tailor working Yekateringburg, Russia for the last seven years who comes from Harbin, China. That took a minute to type (slow I know) but it filled in about an hour or so to find out. She spoke no english at all so I was back to the guide book map again. There wasn't any great conversation going on but just like the rest of the travellers along the way since Beijing the food was shared and everyone wants to know a little bit about the other. Because I was so quick getting a ticket in Irkutsk after getting back into town and stepping on the train I hadn't booked a bed in Moscow before I left Irkutsk. She'll be right, eh? Wrong move!! The train got into Moscow at 4 AM and I had no idea where I was going so I sat in the train station watching people waking up everywhere around me for the next two hours while the sun came up. The whole time I'm thinking about the over zealous guy with the megaphone in Beijing. I wonder if he's still alive? I found an internet cafe and got an address and phone number of two hostels in town and headed off to the metro. Later I read in the guide book that the Moscow Metro moves more people in one day than London and New York combined and rush hour should be avoided. When did I step in to the picture? What an eye opener that was! The first hostel I got to was full and the second didn't exist any more, so I dropped my pack off at Napoleon Hostel and walked Moscow for the next half a day before I found a bed at Sweet Moscow on Arbat Street. This is a really famous cultural area of Moscow and really interesting place to stay on the pedestrian street full of street stalls and performers. Red Square, St Basil's Cathedral, Lenin's Tomb (closed) and The Kremlin are all right in the middle of the city and as easy as to get to with the Metro rail sysytem in Moscow. You just have to work out that you stand on the right side of escalators (slow lane) and always keep your feet movng in a queue or you'll get trampled trying to get on/off the metro. I got an english speaking russian guide to tell me what it was that I was lookng at and got a lot of usefull information that I wouldn't get trying to see the buildings on my own. An hour later and the snow is coming down almost horizontally and the square has emptied out again so I went back into the Metro and back to Arbat to see what was going on over there. More damn snow with strong wind. I spent twenty minutes trying to work out what port was in cryllic and ended up with a bottle of red wine. Three of us in the hostel polished it off over travel tales and stories about our respective homelands. By this time it was time to eat so Ann, a scot who is fluent in russian, led a small party into the local supermarket and we came out with enough food for an small army and the nicest vodka of the trip so far. The tip with the local vodkas is to have food on the table when drinkind it. We would have a shot then chew the end off a gherkin. Very interesting taste. That was the last night in Moscow and on a plane next afternoon to London, all without a hassle at all.

Tags: planes trains & automobiles




Sounds like this would have to have been the longest three days of your life!
Oh, the people you meet!!
Hope you are behaving yourself with that sister of ours!!
How's the pub life Gazza??!!

  cath Apr 9, 2007 1:16 PM

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