I DID IT. SIBERIAN TRAIN TURNS OUT TO BE A PIECE OF CAKE COMPARED TO MONGOLIA BUT THAT IS ANOTHER STORY. COMING TO YOU EVENING FROM HERE IN BEAUTIFUL DOWNTOWN UB.
SIBERIAN TRAIN. DAY FOUR: AUGUST 31, 2015. READY FOR DRY LAND ONCE AGAIN. CREW HAS SCURVY AND I’M SURE I HEARD ‘MAN OVERBOARD’ AT LEAST ONCE LAST NIGHT.
The windows are now seriously dirty. It’s still overcast, gray. Chilly. Trees outside are birch but small, stunted looking and it appears to be very flat right up to where the ridge rises. I’ve turned on as many little reading lights as there are in the compartment for a cheer up. Alert. Fat guy in underwear in the hall. Most people wear their more modest underwear for our viewing pleasure, not this dude. We’re approaching Irtkutsk. Several people in this car get off here…soon I may have the whole car to myself.
Well, I did know when we crossed the Urals yesterday, pretty wooded hills really but a distinct range of them. Therefore I’m feeling lucky and believing we will travel along the shores of Lake Baikal for awhile…seen of course through gray splotches on the windows…still… Ground’s wet, been drizzling outside.
The people in the next compartment are Italian. They’re stopping in Irkutsk and then taking a train to end the journey at Vladivostok, a route I contemplated but then would have missed this glorious four days all in a row experience.
Let me try to describe the movement of the train as I perceived it last night. I don’t know if it was substantially rougher than previously or if my pleasure in constant movement has just worn off. Anyway, last night we were rather flung about I would say. In fact the attendant’s tea kettle was tossed to the floor with water all over down at that end. Honestly flung is the best word I can think of to describe the movement. Jerked works also. Bumped up and down too. Tossed side to side but not completely off the bunk is another way to say it. Thrown with intent to do bodily harm? Maybe.
I think everyone in the car except me did get off.
What’s my next romantic image? Me. Fearless little old lady explorer in the splendid isolation of her own rail car traverses the shores of Lake Baikal as seen through the earth tones of the muddy raindrops of overnight. She’s drinking champagne…no, that’s Nescafe. And she’s joined by a compartment mate for the first time on this trip, a Dutch backpacker. Cool. If one must have another human being around this is as good as it gets. He has the backpacker smell, like clothes that have been washed but not dried properly. Young, restless, works IT for a German energy company that bought what was the Dutch company he started out working for—five-six weeks of time-off a year. But Scott, you’ll appreciate this. Even in Europe they are cutting back on the goodies so new people starting at his company start at a lower rate. Guy from Georgia next door. Might be kind of nice for this last leg. Actually speaking out loud to another human. Maybe.
Long time past Lake Baikal which was beautiful in spite of gray clouds and spotty windows. Now into Ulan Ude. I am heartily tired of the train…good thing it did not happen until today. So living on Moscow time means we get off in Ulan Bator at 2:30am but local time it will be 6 or 7am. Which means I am one bowl of borscht, two chapters of Peter and two naps away from a shower. This little space is very crowded with the two of us. How ever lovely Nico is…a serious travel guy, every year new places, sometimes road trips, sometimes dive trips, but always trips…he’s still consuming my oxygen. In my next life I’m going to be a young guy that just travels around. But only three days in a row in a train.
Day has passed pleasantly enough. Nice talking with Nico. Dutch people are quite lovely I think. Low key, curious, good world citizens. We’ve gone through Russian customs exit, now in the process of entering Mongolia. A new country. So far only two on this trip. Latvia and Belarus. Now Mongolia, then South Korea and I will have traveled to/in 100 countries. Surfy is out of juice and I’m out of writing and train energy. The dining car somehow never opened up so it’s been a day of potato chips and Nescafe.
In a few hours I’ll be standing under a hot shower.
Well that didn’t happen but there’s always a next story.
Irtkutsk (I think), three shots of Lake Baikal, one shot of the roommate I preferred to the large Russian who snored, one shot of picturesque rural Russia and one shot of night trees. Irtkutsk has big history but I cannot remember it. Bad old days in Siberia I think.