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nomadnorrie From Sydney to the formula 1 grand prix in Shanghai, Beijing, South Korea, Mongolia, Russia, Ukraine and Europe. Final destination by train is London. Hopping on a flight to Finland, then on to Japan and finally back to Sydney.

Back on the Trans-Siberian

RUSSIAN FEDERATION | Monday, 12 May 2008 | Views [1146]

The K19 train from Beijing to Irkutsk

The K19 train from Beijing to Irkutsk

Three more days on the trans-siberian

So far my introduction to the stone faced Russians was enlightening. In comparison to China there are distinct differences and it certainly felt considerably less safe in Russia. Russian roads seem more ordered but somehow more dangerous too. At one point I was nearly knocked off my feet by a speeding car brushing past me so close that the wind made me wobble. My ticket this time was for the 4 night/three day trip to Moscow. I had downgraded to the commoners class called Plaskartny to save some money. Denise, who was leaving on the same train, did the same.

On the first day I slept for a long time and woke up just before we stopped. The train was packed with Chinese people going to work in Omsk and we were all in the same mess when it came to haggling for beer, food and water (none of us spoke Russian). Having so many Chinese people on the train made me feel much more comfortable. They work doing all sorts of things in Russia, cooking/farming/manufacturing and just making business (as the Chinese like to say). It was my last chance to practice some Chinese. They were not really welcomed by all of the Russians on board. One of the Russian speaking Chinese guys was abused for sitting facing ever so slighty into the corridor making it a tiny bit harder to pass. A drunk Russian was to blame. I asked the Chinese guy what the Russian said to him and he replied 'no good speak'. He did his best to avoid trouble though and didn't answer back apart from apologising.

Later in the evening Denise was talking to the people opposite her via her phrasebook. A Mongol looking guy called Chenghis (I deliberately called him Genghis) joined her and started reading random phrases from the book in English like "Is this self service?" or "Can I come inside?" He wasn't the most entertaining though, we had most fun when Vladimir joined us. Vladimir was a former KGB officer apparently and he kept saying to Denise "Dyenis, I lov you" over and over and over. At one point he even strapped Denise's pink heart shaped soft toy to his chest and began thumping it with his hand.

Still later that night I had drunk all the beer that I brought on board and the extra 3 cans that I bought at the first stop. We stopped again and Denise and I went for a hilarious half-drunk run to an off license, we could easily have been mistaken for Russians. On the way we had to cross another track and I noticed a train coming in on it. We both thought it would be so funny to get on the wrong train after getting beer. In the shop it was an entertaining game of pointing to get to the cheapest beer and two Russians standing next to us were laughing all the time. On our way back to the train one of them followed me for 100m, he repeatedly introduced himself and asked for English money.

The next day as we came off the Siberian plateau I watched the snowy scenery give way to fawny coloured fields, forest and the occasional field being burnt. Chengis introduced us to another Russian called Olga. Olga was so excited about speaking English that each time I asked her a question she answered in a fit of giggles. Denise got off with Olga that night.

Snow on the siberian plateau

On the last day I went to the buffet car to drink Vodka with Sandy (a Russian speaking German girl I met in Irkutsk). Within 5 minutes we had two shots each and a drunk Russian was trying to get us to share the bottle with him - he didn't need any more alcohol for sure. To avoid his snatches at our bottle we went back to our bunks for peace and quiet. The rest of the time I chatted, read and looked out of the window. I wanted to eat my bar of chocolate but it was so hot on the upper bunk that it actually melted into a thick paste.

The Russian buffet car

The journey went very very quickly.

Arrival at Moscow station flaming early in the morning.

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