Final Whistle Blows

Trip Start Dec 02, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  , Beijing,
Tuesday, December 8, 2009

After rising at 5:30am, we got to the train station at around 7am - the platform was relatively bare about from some posh looking cars which seemed a little odd... but what the hell do I know - it's China.

It all seemed a bit gloomy under the ever dreary Beijing sky but our little group's excitement couldn't be dulled - we were about to start the first leg of our trans-siberian adventure!


We handed over our tickets and boarded what was to be our home for the next day and a half.  Each carriage on the train had a long, narrow corridoor with a boiler down one end (where you could get super hot water) and a little bathroom (toilet and sink) down the other.  There were about six or seven berths  - each with two sets of bunks - rather snug cabins with a small table against the one window.  There was an overhead storage spage for those on the top bunks and space under the lower bunks to store bags and food and what-not.   



I was sharing a berth with Jason and two other people I hadn't spoken with almost at all - Simon and Sally... They were Ozzies and I had the impression they were a couple...

Umm... no.  Try brother and sister - whoops!

  Sally was a little bit tricky to get to know - to begin with there was an air of superiority that surrounded her which was a little disconcerting.  In fact her first words I remember (when I arrived late for our briefing in Beijing) were, "Oh great, you're another Ozzie it sounds like."  Ouch!

But Sally was a gem - a ski instructor and a bit of a party animal with a care-free spirit and someone I always felt comfortable around.  She was also one of three and the only single girl in our group so always had her share of the fellas' attention!  I ended up rooming with her (and Simon) more than anyone else in our group and had some goods chats with her... I also pissed her off at times when her brother and I got a little too philosophical!  Sorry Sal!

Simon (or Simba as I sometimes called him - 'the future king') became something of a beacon for me... he wore a green, puffy coat which stood out in a crowd - perfect for someone like who always seems to fall behind!  Simon's a med student who is also something of a stud cross-country skiier - he's also full of random riddles, likes to think and talk about life and became the person who's company I enjoyed most.

He also has a similar nerve problem and was able to empathize with my back condition - and even help at times - when in Lake Baikal the genious found all the spots to help relieve the pain!

After we said cheerio to Alex, the whistle tooted and we were off!  After all the dirt and decay of Beijing's outskirts had diassapeared in our windows China became quite pretty. 



There were quaint little farms, giant mountains, villages, power stations, houses and flats and downtrodden tents and squats that passed us by - an eclectic mix of life living next to the rails.

After stopping once or twice during the day someone discovered that the toilets, while they looked like conventional western, sit-down-and-read-your-daily-paper ones, had a slight variation... they opened staright onto the tracks... hmmm...

The first night sleeping on board the train passed with a few vodka shots, some instant, Chinese noodles and nice firsm bed.

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