Travelling with services

Travelling with services
Novosibirsk, Russian Federation

Novosibirsk, Russian Federation

I woke and, eventually, got, up. Ciaran and I had both found that when you have such an expanse of time on board, activities can be slowed right down. I think I passed a good half hour wondering if the hatch up top would lead to the roof, secret agent style, on my first trip. So here, I debated going to the loo for a lot longer than it took to actually go. I am patting myself on the back for my train choice, the late departure means we got a chunk done in the nighttime, by the time the train stopped at Ishim at 7:59 Moscow time, we’d covered 600km, 749km by Nazyvaevskaya at 10:05. Admittedly, the train left at 20:17 Moscow time-as soon as you are near the station you are taken back to Moscow time, with the clock covering the square showing that, two hours before local time. Having hit Omsk as I type this, we’ve lost another hour, UTC+7 till some time in the early hours, 2-3 am Moscow time, when we hit the next time zone.

Old steam train mounted as an exhibit in a park
Barabirsk.

A day on the train. The scenery beyond Yekaterinburg is a bit more varied than that up to it, which was “relentlessly Birch forest”. Here the view opens out from time to time. The forecast is for c.18 degrees in Irkutsk where Yekaterinburg was 24 (and in reality 27, it turned out) and it already looks cooler outside. My part of the train is air conditioned in any case, but there’s no sun and a slightly grey sky outside. Finally I might need a jumper or even my gilet, till Japan’s 30 degrees.

View from train compartment, showing curtains, pillow, table with possessions
Train

Lunch. A with services ticket has signed me up to three meals-not sure how that works with two full days, but I have so much food it won’t matter. The Dutch (I think) couple opposite turned down all offers, but I heard the word goulash and was in. I will now worry about them-they have food, I think, but I’m sure we’re in the same coach because we have the same sort of ticket. One benefit of going through an agency, at least-the ticket you get is fully explained. The next time they come for my order, if I can’t spot a word for food I understand I think I’ll just gesture at our compartment’s sole Russian, aiming for the international sign for “same please”. The compartment chief knows he’s the only one who understands, I’ll aim to get the same. Certainly worked for lunch, first a paper bag with water, cutlery etc, then borscht and, just as I was debating whether that was it, the goulash with cabbage and pasta. Excellent. I even managed to save the chocolate in the bag, spotted post soup, till the end.

On reflection, I have too much food, 5 lots of instant noodles, apples, oranges, grapes, biscuits. I’ll cope.

Chart showing times train is due to arrive and leave different stations on the route
Timings.

We stopped. 18:00 by the pod, 16:00 Moscow time, something like 19:00 local-I can see why the station clock shows Moscow time, saved you doing multiple calculations when wandering about on a half hour break. Barabinsk, should you stop there, has several kiosks on the platform but wander across the tracks (yes!) and out and there is a supermarket right in the car park. Beer is about 70p a can, so I grabbed one for Ciaran and one for me, went in search of chocolate, found ear buds and wet wipes the remembered Will, the American in Ciaran’s xarriage. Probably I should also have grabbed some for my compartment mates, amazing how well a cold beer goes down, but never mind. Info buzz: coke (кока-кола) bottle on board, £1, super £0.69; beer (пиво Балтика) on board, £3, super £0.65; snickers (шоколад сникерс) on board, £0.89, giant in super £0.59. We shot the breeze under 17 degree grey skies, while Mosquitos buzzed us. As people returned to the train I wandered along a few carriages then hopped on. I think the chat with the attendant went;

“I’m on (signal with hands) 10”

“I can get on here?”

The last transmitted by a simple ‘da’.

Car park with lada, supermarket behind, a gaudy yellow in colour.
This one good.

The supermarket seemed to be more popular with westerners, proportionally, than Russians. About 20 people made it in, at least 4 were western, yet there aren’t 20% westerners on the train (get me, making a point using a fancy word like ‘proportionally’ and then explaining it. George Lucas do get in touch for some dialogue). I can only suggest that the locals were more interested in smoking, checking out the smoked fish (and enhancing its flavour) and getting hold of a fur gilet. It’s quite the thing.

Novosibirsk to Moscow: 3343km

“…all those who enjoy histories…ought to show their gratitude to Cide Hamete…for his care in telling us its smallest details and clearly bringing everything, no matter how trivial, to light.” DQ

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