Trans-Siberian Part 11: Leaving for Siberia
After checking out of the hotel I decided to check out my final destination in Moscow, Yaroslavskiya railway station, getting there 9 hours before I needed to so I could check my bag in.
Here's a tip if you didn't already realise it - take your passport everywhere, as I had to show it to check my luggage in as well as buying a SIM card, buying a ticket for the Ostankino - the list goes on. I don't know if showing people a copy of your passport is good enough but I got away with no-one confiscating it. One of the young guys working in the luggage drop-off came up and asked, "You are English? Can I have one dollar? I collect money!" I wasn't sure which part of this needed addressing first but I decided the best part would be not to engage him in further conversation.
After walking around Moscow all day I came back and was overjoyed to see my train having a platform number next to it - after the last train journey that was a very good start!
Wandered down to platform 3 in the dusk to get on my home for the next 101 hours. Train 4 to Beijing (and Train 3 back again) are the only ones run by Chinese Railways as opposed to the Russians, so we didn't have any provonitzas, just male Chinese guards.
The train ends up in Beijing and the sign on the outside of each carriage is written in Russian, Chinese and Mongolian. The Russians still call Beijing "Pekin", while the Mongolian below it seems to translate as "Bzzjin".
On getting on the train I found myself sharing with a lawyer from Queenstown, New Zealand called Nic, who had flown to London at the end of March and was travelling overland back to Australia before flying home, over a 10 week period. In the next three cabins were a family from Cardiff - Anna, Xavier and three young children who had been travelling for two months and had another year to go! Xavier was from France but had perfect English with virtually no accent and the children were properly bilingual. The other four cabins were taken up by Chinese guards who seemed to stay in their room for 99% of the time. Other than a Danish couple who had perfect English, and a much older English couple who we bumped into at station from time to time, we didn't see anyone else to talk to - everyone was just too far away.
Okay, so let's have an explore of what we've got here. Here's my cabin:
Not bad and it's got a 220V charging point - good enough to charge a laptop - and a shower, let's have a look at that ...
Oh. So no hot water. And if you can also imagine ketchup sliding out of a bottle, you're not too far away from the shower pressure.
The carriage was very smart and clean, on day one at least. More charging points in the corridor too.
And of course a samovar, there's always a samovar on these trains, it's one of the great things about them. Have to admit being in Russia I was thinking it was going to be something like this:
This is what we actually got:
If you turn the tap on you WILL get 100C water shooting off in all directions, mainly towards your unguarded hand. Using it when the train is jolting from side to side is even more fun.
I also took some photos of the toilets but they didn't come out. Shame as you would have loved to have seen them. The one in our carriage had a deep end and a shallow end. There's a foot pedal to flush and you watch everything you've just squeezed out fall through to the track below.
Here's the restaurant car, the only place where we saw any Russian staff. They made it clear very early on that you weren't allowed to take any photos, including of the menu, which only goes to make it more of a challenge.
The beer was overpriced - a can of 500ml of Baltika 7 was 170 roubles (£3.50). I decided to brave having some breakfast one morning and for 250 roubles (£5.20) I got two cold tomatoes stuffed with what looked like Tesco sandwich filler.
One thing did make me laugh about this place though. I paid for my breakfast getting rid of all my 10 rouble and 5 rouble coins - no notes. Five minutes later Nick tried to pay for his with a note only to be told that they had no change and gave him some sweets instead of the 30 roubles he was due!
Now I appreciate that in high season things may be very different but travelling in May isn't exactly low season - our daytimes through Siberia tended to be about 25C. But the idea that the train is a bustling party bus of a train all year round full of Russians drinking vodka is now well and truly debunked. In total our train had 12 passenger carriages - 2 first class and 10 second class. There were no 3rd class carriages on the train. The first class carriages had 8 rooms holding 2 each and in second class each carriage could hold 8 rooms of 4, so the maximum number of passengers was 352. We reckon that there were only 32 passengers on the whole train - and almost certainly more crew than that. We heard from someone in second class that they'd tried to get first class tickets at the last minute but were told that first class was full which it clearly isn't.
Ready now for five nights and four days on the train until I reach Ulaanbaatar.
|Next:||Trans-Siberian Part 12: Day 1 on the big train - Moscow to Perm|
|Previous:||Trans-Siberian Part 10: Random Moscow|
Last updated 01 June 2013 12:54
I think I'm meant to do an "About" here but I think you'd be more interested in seeing a random seagull.