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Notes from a Wandering Daydreamer Life as it should be...

life on the Kmart express pt2.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION | Thursday, 13 September 2007 | Views [409]

well im now back on the computer...listening to poms whinging about not being able to get football on the TV.

Life on the trans siberian was certainly something very interesting. there were so many characters on the train and there was always something happening outside your room.

because of the fact that the train crosses about 5 time zones on it's journey from UB to moscow it was next to impossible to find out what the local time is. all that we went off was sunrise, sunset and whenever the train stopped at a station. there was normally only 2 or 3 stops a day, and some were not even long enough to get off the train, while some were during the night or had nothing worth getting off for. we ended up setting our watches on moscow time, which was usually a few hours off, and started working off that to get adjusted to the time.

some times we would stand out in the hallway, using the single powerpoint to recharge our ipod, listening to it and staring out the window or singing and dancing to it - much to the amusement to the mongolians. they would often come up and want to know what we were listening to so we would give them one of our earphones. much to my horror one girl asked if i had any britney spears....

we also spent a bit of time in the dining car having a few drinks or next door talking to the mongolians who were all very keen to practice their english. at one point we were talking about the port arthur massacure for a while, and they could not believe it.

every stop brought with it a new rush of excitement from the mongolian traders, new hoardes of russian shoppes with their grim faces and new delacacies to buy on the platorm. most often it was a combination of bread, potato, cabbage or sausage. nearly every room along the train had [along with bundles of jeans and blankets] a few big salamis hanging from the roof. I bought one at a station on the first day and showed it proudly to the mongolians. they gave me one of theirs, so i gave them mine. i'm glad that i did, as the next day it started dripping while it was hanging from the roof and they were looking at it with strange looks.

by the end of most nights i would find myself hanging out with the mongolians after having a few vodkas. and boy can they drink. on our last night i came into the room with a half bottle of vodka and it was gone within one minute. next thing i knew i had passed out on 2 beds - no mean feat on a train.

i was very suprised by the towns and villages that we passed. most of them looked like they had not had a single rouble spent in them since the end of communism. there were big abandoned factories, small shacks and a lot of ruins of former buildings. there were big central heating pipes running over towns witht he insulation all falling off them, clapped out ladas on the road and a generally very grim outlook.
occasionally we would come into a larger city that looked like it had a bit of money spent in it, but they were all full of soviet era grey apartment blocks.

arriving in moscow was like arriving in a whole new world. as the mongolians trecked up and down the train collecting their mannaquins and merchandise we watched the city grow from delapadated outskirts into a thriving european city in the centre.

we found out from the russians that our train is known as the crazy train. and for a good reason..

i'm surprised at how much i have enjoyed moscow. it is a really interesting city and there always seems to be something happening. it has been described as hedonistic, and i certainly believe it.

last night we visited red square and saw st basils and the famous GUM department store next to red square, qhich ironically is full of the biggest capitalist brand names in the world and totally dwarfes lenin's mausoleum on the other side of the square.

i have to go now, but i'll write more about moscow later.

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