Slow train to Siberia
Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
189Trip End Mar 16, 2009
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The journey however started off with a slight little hiccup when we were put onto the wrong car by the train's cabin attendant. Since we'd arrive early we had time to unpack our bulky bags so we could stow away our luggage before the train set-off. Just as we were getting comfortable a big burley Mongolian man and his wife arrived at our door and told us to get out as we were in the wrong carriage. We were a little confused but nevertheless started packing up as fast as we could. Very soon chaos erupted as we were trying to repack our bags they had become impatient and were trying to force their luggage into the compartment
Once we'd re-settled into our actual cabin which we were sharing with the same friends we'd met at the Ger Camp, Daniel and Annie we were finally able to get comfortable and calm the nerves with a drink or two. By the time the train actually got going it was already 9pm and everyone started settling down to try and get some sleep before the early boarder crossing the next morning.
The Russian border crossing is considered the toughest and longest as there is a lot of paper work that needs to be filled out and the train is searched from top to bottom. The Russian border guards are also considered to have zero sense of humour and I read somewhere that during a psychological assessment conducted on a group of Russian boarder guards after a shootout, it was found that 70% of the guards were not stable enough to do the jobs and were classified as dangerous
We arrived at the Mongolian boarder at 5:40 am and sat around till 11am till the locomotive finally arrived. It was the strangest feeling when we walked out to find that only two cars remained on the track, the locomotive had disappeared and the entire back of the train was also gone. Very soon the Russian border formalities started and dogs were brought through the train to sniff every nook and cranny, we all sat motionless trying to look as innocent as possible and watched the procession.
Our passports were taken away and then later retuned by a Russian boarder guard that resembled a villain from a Hollywood movie. He was tall, well built, had snow white hair and ice blue eyes. As he handed the passports back we were holding our breath that there would not be any problems with our passports that we could not explain. Fortunately all turned out to be in order and he guard left the compartment and said in a deep strong Russian accent "I wish you luck!" and then disappeared down the corridor
The celebrations soon got underway. By early evening our little Aussie sister and our new neighbours Tessa and Simon had joined the party in our cabin. A friendly Swedish chap from down the car kindly let us use his portable speakers and the iPod party started. At one stage we had 10 people in our little cabin and the festivities only quieted down when the cabin attendant came in to remind us it was after 12.
A large part of the Trans-Siberian is meeting people and making friends and we were lucky that our carriage was filled with like minded and fun travellers. We had a wonderful time making new friends, chatting and hearing other peoples travel stories. Hopefully we'll be able to keep contact and meet up some time again in the future.