Across the Plains of Siberia

We were awake at 7.30 am this morning and we were at this location:

Current Location
map

This total trip from Vladivostok to Moscow is 9259 km and as I write this (20 hours after our commencement) we still have 8143 kms to travel.

Our train has one very large and strong looking Russian electric locomotive. Behind it are four baggage / freight cars and then 13 passenger csrs. Next comes the restaurant car and a few last carriages at the back. Each carriage has nine compartments. We have reserved ours just for the two of us and it is just about OK in size for me. It is a bit of a squeeze with four people in the same compartment.

At the end of each carriage is a little office for the attendants. They clean the train, sell drinks and provide bedding. Nearby is a samovar (or urn) with boiling water for tea and coffee. At the each end of the carriage is a toilet with a wash basin and mirror. There are no showers on the train.

The name “Siberian Railway” refers to the total train network across Russia, rather than to a specific train. We will be travelling on four different trains during our journey and they are all parts of the Trans Siberian.

Most of the other passengers are Russians traveling cross the country for work or holidays. Not all are going to Moscow – at each stastion some get off the train and others get on. We suspect that many are members of the military who are coming on, or off, leave.

Yesterday, we stopped off at a supermarket to buy some food for the trip and it was interesting to see many of the same types of food or brands that we recognise from home. There were obviously a lot of locally made products as well. Who knows what they really were!

It was quite late last night before we had our things stowed and our cabin set up. So instead of going to the restaurant car for dinner, we had some dark bread, salami and cheese that we had bought at the supermarket. We did make an expedition along seven carriages to the restaurant car for a bottle of red wine whch cost us about $14.

For breakfast we had some instant noodles folowed by a cup of coffee using the coffee bags that we brought and water from the samovar. We did make it to the restaurant car for food and with a little pointing and miming, we were able to order lunch and a bottle of beer.

The train track is not very even so the ride is rather rough. It is difficult to cary a mug of water fom the other end of the carriage to our cabin without a spill.

It has been a hot day today – sunny and warm. In fact, at a couple of stops when we went for a walks along the platform, we guessed that the outside temperature was nearly 38 degrees. It has got quite warm on the train, even though it is air conditioned. Some stops have only been for a minute or two whilst others have been for as long as 30 minutes.

At most stations, local people have set up little stalls selling home made products, beer, water and potatoes. We bought a couple of pancakes and a sausage from one woman and they were delicious. There is not much risk of going hungry on this trip.

We have spent all day traveling past open plains and birch forest. Every now and then (perhaps each 40 or 59 kms ther appears a small cluster of humble wooden houses surrounded by vegetable gardens. They mostly look poor and unloved.

It sems strange to us that there could be so much unused land here. We pass hundreds of kilometres of what looks like lush green fields with no animals or cultivation whatsoever. It’s most likely that there aren’t enough people in this area to tend stockand there’s certainly no place to keep them in the -40 degree winter. However, it’s been an intersting day traveling bthrough green meadows and copses of silver birch. Occasionally we cross a large stream and see an ocassional road. (many are very heavily corrugated).

As I finish this, we have been on the train for 24 hours and completed a third of our journey to Irkutsk.

4 comments

  1. Hello guys!! Loved the chocolate story!! It sounds such an immense country! by the way are you the only Australians on board?? Love Ruth

  2. 'Trina · ·

    HI there, can just imagine the box of chocolate going 🙂 HOpe you have more in the stash for other “bribes”. what is the food in the retaurant car like? safe travelling

  3. Bill & Dorothy · ·

    Bit worried about ‘not going hungry’. Watch that waistline!

  4. This train has 20 carriages and we are the only foreigners on it, apart from another Englishman travelling from South Korea to London