Good friends? Hmmm not so much in one case!

Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Flag of Russia  , Bashkortostan,
Sunday, February 13, 2011

09:22 Woke up and found quite a thick bit of ice all along the bottom of the window where condensation had frozen through the night. We stopped briefly at another station where our friend who joined us for UNO got off. Getting off involves stepping down onto the tracks and then crossing 2 more tracks at ground level. We only stopped for a couple of minutes then departed again. It's a beautiful sunny day with the sun shining into our room, and the hundreds of trees that line the track are casting long shadows across the snow.
Occasionally we pass villages with smoking chimneys attached to wooden houses, or concrete towns with industrial chimneys and big boiler looking things with a web of small thin pipes leading to them.
I sit with my plastic pot full of tea and some dry bread and watch the snowy world pass by.

We stopped again at 10 and got off as the pause was a longer one this time. The air is so cold that I can feel the hairs in my nostrils trying to freeze, which tickles as if someone has stuck a feather up nose. Very difficult to explain really. There were more carts with the same stuff, noodles, cigs, drinks and chocolate, as well as the odd souvenir stands. Steve and I walked down to the front of the train, looking down at the wheels and underneath, much of it was frozen, and it seems that when we 'flush' the toilet it basically just opens the sluice and your 'offering' falls onto the track! We got to the front and found that the engine had been detached and we were getting a new engine.
We got back on board after the 20 min stop and had some brunch. Together we had cheese, salami, fresh bread, mayonnaise and tea. Our attendant came down and told us it was -15 outside but would be -28 later, but also that Novosibirsk, where the lady was from (and my dad has worked) was -40! I can't imagine being that cold.
11:57 Our train trundles on through the landscape, the many fir trees are heavy with snow and the barer trees are white with haw frost. The little villages we pass are wooden houses with about 2 feet of snow on the v shaped roofs. Occasionally our carriage attendant comes down, she has offered us water and a yellowy drink which we have taken and I like and we think might be ice tea. She then came back with her phone and showed us a picture of her daughter. Bear in mind that these 'conversations' are entirely in Russian but we seem to understand each other. It's a nice feeling that although we can't actually understand what is being said, we do understand each other.
14:21 Just set my time zone to automatically update and it moved the time on by 2 hours! So it's not 1222 anymore, suddenly it's 2.22! Weird!
15:54 Well we're all reeeally hot, it's 26 degrees in the train and were roasting! Dad was concerned about my trip across Russia on the train- what if the heating breaks? If it broke it will be a while till it cools. It is seriously hot! We look forward to the stops so we can open the door and let some air down the corridor!!
16:28 Every stop we make our attendant gets out and bashes the undercarriage with a big metal pole to get the ice off. These are mostly women around the age of 50/60 dressed up in their fur hats and long coats, stooped over beating the ice off the brakes and suspension.

17:42 Sunset was beautiful across the snowy fields, a brilliant pink sky with the bright White snow. We were confused about the time, the train travels on Moscow time but the time zone has moved forward two hours, we've decided to eat when were hungry and sleep when it's dark!

21:29 We've been playing cards - cheat, for a while now. With our picnic of fresh bread and sausage bought from the ladies on the stops, crispy bread sticks and cheesy biscuits (a bit like ritz biscuits) and a steady stream of vodka, we were quite happy. Steve keeps eyeing up the Russian ladies who board the train and then goes and speaks to them to try his luck. He is a self confessed man-whore he laughs! He is a very sweet guy in fact and very easy to get along with and brings us new 'friends' to our cabin who he meets as he goes out to smoke.
We have a shot of moonshine which is incredibly strong and tastes dreadful but will probably help us sleep!
Am feeling quite tired now, even though we have just sat all day. I imagine all the brain stimulation and lack of proper sleep is causing this. I woke up in the early hours to hear the train being bashed repeatedly by metal poles, and then again at 3, except the train had stopped at a station so the toilet was locked! I hopped from one foot to another asking the awake attendant when she was going to open it, she said 3 mins, and after a bit, and my hopping she seemed to open it a little sooner. Then I went back to bed.
22:45 Just arrived at another big station for a long stop. This one had better shops, I had to try and mime milk, this was a little challenging as I've worked out that tea is chai, and I asked for chai to which she walked around the shop and produced several boxes of tea. No no, not actually tea, milk that goes in tea, to which I attempted miming brewing tea and then pouring milk in. They had none. So I bought some milk chocolate instead. Not for the tea of course.
Inside the main station was a beautiful glass chandelier and duck egg blue and gold ceiling. Rather bizzarly and to our amusement every now and then, they play military rousing music on the platform before making more announcements.

Steve came back onto the train with a huge grin on his face and giggling, he said that a woman on the platform snogged him! Me, Rishy and Anita were astounded and didn't believe him so started to interrogate him as to how this happened!
I was in the shop trying to find milk and Steve popped in then went out again. He was only in his t-shirt and slippers and was smoking. A girl came over to him and rubbed his arms and asked in broken English if he was cold. The next thing he knew she pounced on him. We didn't believe this but Jeff who is on a few carriages down confirmed this, as did his wife/girlfriend whose glasses were steamed up
A couple of minutes later Alec the Russian, who lives next door and who smells slightly pungent, is drinking beer and is a bit tipsy I think, was brought into our cabin by Steve! He only speaks Russian so more miming and laughing ensued as he decided that Reeesshy is African, Anita is Indonesion, I'm Danish and Steve is American. We laughed as we played this game of guess what is being said and laugh as no one understands. Describing all this is not anywhere near as funny as experiencing it. Particularly after a couple of vodka shots, beer and moonshine. You kind of have to be there!

Kay, you'll love this, in the "point it" book I have, we were looking for some sort of Australian animal, which we flicked through an couldn't find. We ha no idea, aardvark, anteater, platypus, something! Rishy keeps putting a russian accent on english words as if it will make any difference, and alec just keep saying the word louder as if THAT will make a difference. The book is coming in very useful.

The laughter turned slightly awkward for me as Alec who is about 50 and married, put his arm around my shoulder and cornered me and basically started asking me if I was singly. I quickly said I was married and my husband Scott was at home. He carried on and the boys ushered everyone out, not before being asked twice to keep it down by the other carriage lady who works nightshift and doesn't seem to like us much as she told us off last night for being noisy at 830.
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Kay on

I knew it would come in handy!! hahaha! I feel putting the letter 'O' at the end of things helps sometimes too, generally in Italy or Spain. Shout also does the trick!

Scott on

I'm touched to be your sham husband!

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