ALL ABOARD The Greatest Train Trip in the World.

Trip Start Apr 28, 2012
Trip End Dec 21, 2012

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Where I stayed
On board the Greatest train trip in the world
What I did
China- Mongolia- Russia

Flag of Russia  , Central Russia,
Monday, July 16, 2012

180 hours onboard the Trans Siberian Express.. We came, we saw.. & we tallied the dets

Coffees= 19
Litres of water= 14
Solitaire Games played= 29
Solitaire won= 16
Packets of noodles= 10
Banana consumed= 6
Apples consumed= 8
Packets of Soup=5
Loafs of bread= 2
Boiled Eggs= 10
Packets of Cashews= 2
Blogs written=4
Docos/ episodes of Idiot Abroad= 5
Cups of tea= 13
Beers= 14
Wine= 2 casks, 1 bottles
Vodka= 0
Packet of baby wipes= 5
Chess played= 2
Meals in food carte= 1
Dirty Russian men without shirts on = hundreds.

We also noted a typical day in the lives...

8:00am local time (5am Moscow):Wake up after solid nights sleep without sleeping tablets! Train stops at station. 45 minutes- toilets locked. 
Sunny Russian day, makes for good scenic views.
BR jumps off to stretch legs & search for fresh bread at food venders & to use toilet (unsuccessful). 
DE folds sheets of lower bunk for ‘day lounge’. Has quick baby wipe shower.

8:45am BR cuts up fruit for breakfast. Still needs to use the toilet.
DE makes cups of tea.

9.05 Train pulls away from station. BR busting for toilet, reading to take mind off it- starts a new book.
DE washes up breakfast stuff & makes coffees.

9.45 After reading for 40mins, finally BR’s turn for the toilet. & makes cups of coffee to celebrate afterwards.
DE reading on top bunk & looking out the window

10.30 BR trims nasal hair & mustache in cabin mirror.
DE continues reading, trying to ignore BR

10.40 BR goes to charge lap top at cabins only 220V plug, above the bin at opposite end of carriage.
DE Continues reading.

11.25 BR still charging computer, sitting on bin reading.
DE plucks eye brows & starts a game of solitaire. Train carriage boiling hot already. No air con on Russian trains!!

11.50 After loosing 2 games of solitaire, DE makes cups of soup.
BR back from bin

12.45 DE writes blog for Ulaan Bataar to Irkutsk. BR back to charging station.

1.15 BR back to cabin, computer fully charged & types up a blog. Another round of coffees.
DE writes goals, ‘what to do with our lives’. Looking out the window for inspiration... scenery hasn’t changed once still forest

2.55 DE attempts to boil eggs in water from train’s urn water.
BR still blogging.

3.20 After lying on top bunk- head as close to out the window as possible- DE checks eggs.

3.30 Sasha (Short for Alexander, our male cabin attendant) vacuums the carriage & our cabin.

3.35 DE peels hard boiled eggs (success) & cooks a packet of instant noodles. Lunch is served. Half a packet of noodles & an egg each. Gourmet.
3.45 BR buys pepsi from Sasha’s private fridge.

3.40 Sasha dusts window cills & day lounge. What a guy! Mops & dries the floor. “Spa-si-ba Sasha!”
BR back to blog
DE back to top bunk for reading.

4:00 DE winds clock back for the 2nd time on trip. Back one hour to suit Yekaterinburg- where we would soon be passing through. Moscow time + 2 hours. Time 3pm again.

3.15 Reading Reading Reading

4.30 Stop at station for 30minutes. Beer RUN!
Both get off to stretch legs & check out food & drink stalls on the platform.
4x Beers
1x tissues
1x Lg water    =600R $20 AUD

5:00 Back on train. Toilet locked, DE busting. BR drinking beers.

5.15 Toilet open, DE relieved. BR asks Sasha if we can put beers in his fridge. He is more than happy to help. What a guy!

5.45 Enjoying the cold beers, listening to Eric Clapton- computer goes flat. We discuss  Vietnamese war books were reading.
BR back to the book. DE plays solitaire.

6.00 Discuss & sketch a house plan made from train carriages.

6.15 Platform beers finished, we head to food carriage for more. Hot, hard day... really deserve a few more beers! And want to buy some wine for dinner- plus there is a 220V plug in the dining carte, easy to charge & drink at the same time. Better than charging whilst sitting on the bin!

8.30 4 beers are sank &then we become fed up with shirtless, drunk Russian men (pigs might better describe them) we go back to our carriage, take away bottle of red in hand.

9.30 Noodle dinner & finish off our beers. Discussing & impersonating Russian mannerisms. Stern faces...

9.50 Open bottle of red, enjoy watching a few episodes of Idiot Abroad on the lap top.

11:00 Sun has finally set. DE waits 30mins for toilets to be unlocked before brushing teeth & going to sleep.
BR Finishes bottle of wine before going to bed.

11:30 ZZZZZZ

When we think of all the places & things that we had/have planned for the trip, the Trans siberian is the thing that most people will ask about when we talk of our travels.

So we are each going to give our short opinion of our experiences on the longest train journey in the world. Here goes;
Brent’s Overall Experience..

In general I loved the experience of being on the train. I think that if any person needs to really relax & disconnect from the world then a train journey is the perfect holiday. I don’t have any idea where my love of trains has come from but I am very fond of them & have been for a long time. The problem is that it can be remarkably expensive in Australia to travel by train so its not something that is done on a regular basis.

Traveling across China, Mongolia & Russia it was great to see the landscapes change through each country. China with it’s development & mountains on show, Mongolia being an unfenced, treeless, green lawn that extends forever & Russia covered in pine forest & small towns that haven’t yet heard the news from Moscow that the soviet era is over. 

The cities we had started, finished & stopped over in were also very diverse in their populations & offered us some of our biggest language barrier challenges. Noticing the change in the people across such a distance was very interesting. The chinese hocking their golly’s & rushing to make the next Yuan$$, Mongolia’s incessant honking of horns that makes no improvement to their place in the traffic (it must make them feel good), & that Russian scowl that seems pressed into their faces will be something we will never forget & offered us good reason to ask “are things really that bad??”.

The only thing that I would change about our time on the train is the time of year in which we did it. Everybody has a picture of Russia in their minds as a cold, inhospitable place & being there in the peak of their summer it really surprised us that the weather was quite balmy. We thought a Russian summer would still be a little cold but it wasn’t. It was sunny & beautiful the majority of the time & in any other circumstances we couldn’t have asked for any better. If I were to do the trip again I would go during a change in season probably autumn into winter.

And Danis Opinion..

The trans siberian is something I’ve always wanted to do. Not sure where the inspiration came from.. whether i saw a documentary on it once.. or just looked at a map one day & thought ‘Wow, you can catch a train across that!’ 

The train trip in general, like most trips, definitely had its ups & downs. While Brent thrived in the environment of having nothing to do except read & look out the window. I sometimes  just wanted to jump out that window!!

The time on the train went surprisingly fast- even the four day stint. Like when we travelled around Australia in our truck we’d go through different stages of amusement, activities to occupy our time & mental states. From loud music blaring & singing along in our cabin- to absolute silence just looking out the window. From drawing up house plans made from train carriages or plucking eyebrows, to reading for 4 hours non stop. Drinking cask wine or warm beer & laughing at the world to discussing our serious Vietnamese war books & soviet times of Russia. One extreme to the next, over & over again.  

Crossing though 7 time zones is just mind blowing. All of the train times were set to Moscow time as soon as we crossed the Mongol boarder. Trying to keep a ‘normal’ routine when the train time is 6 hours ahead of where you were was a little mind boggling. And chasing the sun every afternoon made for some beautiful sun sets to admire- at 11pm!!

Even though I was cursing having a time line through south east asia, I don’t regret for a second booking this trip in advance. Having the train tickets & accommodation arranged in advance at each stop took the stress out of the major language barriers we encountered in every city. In saying that, I would’ve loved to have had more time in Mongolia. 3 days in a remarkable country like that is no where near sufficient. A month probably still wouldn’t do it justice.

Seeing the ways of life out in the countryside of these 3 amazingly different countries is something I’ll never forget & the absolute highlight. I was so intrigued not only by how people live in these places- far from anything we all call ‘necessities’- but also imagining how cold -40 degrees feels against your skin. 

I loved how the ‘look’ of the local people changed dramatically from Chinese origin- to the Mongolian stamp of genetics you can pick a mile away & as soon as we crossed the Russian boarder- it was instant. The Mongol genes vanished & a ‘western’ or European ancestry was clear.

Overall, I agree with Brent & if I were to do it again Id go in winter or at a change of season. Ive seen crystal clear blue sky plenty of times before- Id love to have seen snow capped mountains in the distance, pine forests in a white mist & country farms or ger camps fighting off the depths of winter.

An amazing experience I’ll never forget.
Absolutely loving every minute
Brent & Dani

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