SIBERIAN TRAIN. MOSCOW TO ULAN BATOR. CHAPTER THREE.

DON’T FORGET…ONE AND TWO BEFORE THREE.

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SIBERIAN TRAIN. DAY THREE: AUGUST 30, 2015/FIRST DAY OF WEEK FIVE

3:50am. This is strange magic here my friends. 3:50am. Did I mention that? And it is bright daylight. My watch is still set on the same time as the clock in the train. So obviously we are all forever on Moscow time. And we’ve traveled over 50 hours east so that’s not right is it? Okay I’m turning my cell all the way off to see if it will come back on in some local time zone. I know I’m not in Kansas anymore but just where the hell am I? And it actually looks just like Kansas so …? Oh great, just looked. Phone time has changed. It now says 1:56am. AND did I mention it’s bright daylight?

I am very tempted to turn on phone data but god knows what costs that would incur…  So there’s a guy snoring in the next compartment. Obviously his body still thinks it’s night. Then why am I so wide awake?

I feel completely rested and fine. Haven’t eaten since lunch yesterday but then maybe that was only three hours ago? Just Nescafe. We’re stopped and another train is coming to a halt on the platform across. Looks like a car of four-bunkers. Not sure I could do that. Like extra small prison cells but with crispy white sheets. Useful information—the sheets and blankets on this Siberian train are very nice, heavy snowy-white cotton and thick fleece. And big fat pillows.

We haven’t had serious forest since this side of Moscow. Keeps opening up a little more all of the time. Not quite prairie but expansive fields. I thought we’d cross the Urals, there would be thick forest, the taiga, and then it would open into steppes the last day before Ulan Bator.

Amazing how healthy I feel. Except for that part about the middle of my back. Hit the prednisone I guess or an extra pain pill. I’m quite pleased with the fact I’ve hauled one smallish but heavy suitcase, one medium-size but heavy backpack and one small backpack all over, up and down, with almost no help and no parts of me have rebelled. I give the gym and abs class total credit for this miracle of physical fitness…or if not miraculous at least pretty darn goodness.

 The windows are getting dirty. Not bad yet but the sparkle is gone. As is my sparkle. So 48 more hours at least. Let’s see. Can I sleep 20 of that? Read 10? Do stretches and planks 30 minutes? Think deep thoughts two hours? Think about bacon and eggs and grits and cinnamon rolls and waffles and lattes another two? What does that leave to write in here? Too much time? You could be right.

Such a shame. Over the past year I’ve read a number of good books about Russia, Siberia, Genghis Khan, Mongolia, the Golden Horde, etc. If I had a decent memory I would tell you a little of the stories as we go along. OR if I could access Wikipedia I could do the same. Since neither is the case we’ll just go on about trees and toothbrushing….

There’s Russian history and Mongol history. But I don’t know some key points, like exactly how the back and forth between China and Russia resulted in Mongolia being independent, when exactly did that happen? And I need to know a little more about the sweep that brought 15 countries into the Soviet Union. Let’s see if I can name them without Wikipedia. Russia the mother of course. Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kirgizstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia. I did it. Kirgizstan doesn’t look right but I think it is. Yay me.

Two weeks from now I’ll be home in my bed. Seems unreal. First week or so of any trip, I’m always still partly back there. Now four weeks in I am very far from home—but I know I’m still in Russia because there hasn’t been a passport check recently. I cannot even imagine my own bed and frig and TV and car anymore.

The good news for me is I did some very productive planning regarding Chapter One of WS yesterday. I know the format, the purpose, the setting, the tone. Houston, I have an outline.

And If I eat one more bite of these f-ing waffle cookie things I will vomit. Maybe I should read again. It’s 2:53am.

NOW 2:15pm

So time really does fly even if you’re only having something generally related to fun. The time has me so very confused; it is like watching jet lag be made. When we fly over a few time zones our bodies may object but our minds go ‘Oh okay, I left at 4pm Saturday, traveled 24 hours or something like that and now it’s 6pm Saturday. The black hole of time struck but I’m okay with it. I know when I left and when I arrived. Period. Good enough.’

This on the other hand is weird. I’m moving through a timescape. Watching it as it shifts…an hour…another. Late afternoon haze now. Dark soon. First I thought it was just because we’re pretty far north so it got dark earlier. But that doesn’t account for dawn at midnight. So outside the train the real people that live down toward Lake Baikal and the Mongolian border are living in a different time. No different than if I drive across the U.S.; it’s just that I don’t do that in one fell swoop so I get some days to stop being confused. Story of my life. I usually feel that I have some grasp of the big picture but then along comes some silly little mind muddle to entertain me as the trees go by.

Day’s been comprised of this.  After another morning nap I prepared for high lunch in the dining car: brushed my teeth again, used the rose-patterned head band highlighted by my carefully applied pink lipstick, put on the stretchy pants instead of the fleece pants, and clean underwear. Then the six cars through the masses yearning to breathe first class air and voila, made it once again without falling out on the tracks between cars. Was looking forward to the jam pancakes. Nyet. Yogurt please. Nyet. Bread. Da. Butter, Da. Jam. Nyet. Coffee with milk. Nyet. But I like the waitress very much. This is our third day together and I always give her an okay tip because I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t hate each other in real life. And she looks sad when she has to keep telling me ‘nyet.’ Guess what they do have every day and it’s good. Yup, that scarlet borscht. So essentially all is well. A tasty bowl of beef borscht, a dried out roll with unsalted butter (which I salt of course), pineapple juice, what’s not to enjoy.

I almost forgot the big news. A French guy helped me figure out where we are on my map. Not what time it is where we are, he doesn’t know that either…but where is better than neither where nor when. So down near Lake Baikal. Which I suppose means we will go all around it at night. Cross into Mongolia south of Ulan Ude. So far it is still woods and still a bit hilly. So today early, we stopped at Krasnoyarsk, have gone through Kavsk, and might be approaching Irkutsk. How far from Albuquerque does that sound?

I am getting quite involved in my book so between downloading tree and village photos and Peter and sleep the night will pass—the 4pm to midnight night.

Told you they’d get shorter…A little.

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