Trans Mongolian – Day 3

Today, the disorientation of following Moscow time really kicks in. At sunrise we awake in Bogotol. I blink at my mobile phone which is still set to Moscow time. 3:30 am. Local time its 7:30. Sometime last night we crossed another time zone moving us to Moscow + 4. Its odd to have the train schedule posted in our cabin in Moscow time. Tomorrow we’re scheduled to arrive at Lake Baikal at midnight moscow time, which will actually be 5am local time. Must be even more unusual for the train stations that post their clocks in Moscow time. I can’t imagine working on Vladivostock station, looking up at the clock that will say 3am but the real time is 10am.

Today I experience a luxurious APC shower and (what’s probably mostly psychological) I actually feel clean.
Scenery is similar to yesterday, just a bit hillier. I also notice that the train has a distinct smell. A mixture of the coal being burnt in the carriage furnace, and our cabin attendant’s Chinese cooking. Yesterday in his little compartment he was chopping up raw cabbage, garlic and prawn to make some sort of soup. I’m thinking its possible his cooking maybe better than the dining car.

Krasnoyarsk is our first stop of the morning. The station is huge and the most high tech we’ve seen. The platforms even have electronic signs. We find a kiosk and the lady seemed overjoyed to be helping us. We picked up a fresh loaf of bread, a link of thick sausage, two containers of juice and 2 instant soup/dinner bowls (we’d learn the next day that we actually bought 2 bowls of instant mashed potato). Our biggest haul yet. Too often we stop at a platform far away from the main terminal to go far, so we’re at the mercy of what ever happens to be on our platform.

Back on the train we dig into our meal, deciding today will be a day that we skip the dining car.
It’s hard to describe what life is like on the train. You read, you eat a little, make some tea, stare out the window for a while, have a nap, chat, do some financial planning, read some more. The time just goes, and it’s very relaxing. This particular train is not overly social though, it’s running at very low capacity. I suppose it is the low season in between Chinese New Year and Easter, so expected. Our first class carriage has 8 cabins for 2, so 16 people capacity. There are only 6 of us on though. We’ve met a few people from the other cabins, but this doesn’t appear to be the season for the Vodka express.

Scenery is still a snowy wooded wilderness interspersed with vast open expanse of snow. Well, until you get close to a town, then it turns into an absolute industrial wasteland. Coal mines, industrial processing factories, timber yards. In between the towns you do get a feeling of extreme isolation though.


Sibera - empty isolation[/caption]

Our last stop during daylight is at Illansky. Absolute jackpot for food. These Russian ladies had our first class carriage pegged and by the time our door opened they had their bags of food neatly on display in a long row not more than 3 steps from our door. Meat, eggs, bread, potatos, fruit some vegetables, juices and beer – it was the best selection yet. And they priced themselves accordingly. Sadly we weren’t overly hungry, but we did pick up 4 giant meat dumplings to add to our soup.

Dumpling in Soup