Danny and Helen's Journey Home 2006 travel blog

Danny looks like his t-shirt should be put on the front of...

Danny possesses the essentails for the trip - a pack of cards...

Watch out for the tunnel

Helen stands by our train - which lost its engine for 8...

Helen prepares salami for lunch

You only need two things for a great time on the two day journey on the trans-Siberian railway from Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) to Irkust (Russia) or so Helen and Danny had been told: 1. Vodka 2. A private cabin for the two of you to retire to when it gets out of hand and you need privacy It was therefore a massive blow to find out that not only did the train times coincide with the England vs. Ecuador game in the last 16 of the world cup, but that the booking had been cocked up Helen and Danny were sharing our cabin with a Japanese teacher of Tibetan Buddhism and a Russian student drunk who most unfortunately was the owner of a mobile phone and when it seemed relief might set in an additional battery for his phone when the first one ran out... The journey did not begin well with Helen insisting to the conductor that it should have been a cabin for two but to no avail. Then within seconds of the train moving off from the platform the rest of the carriage which was populated by a tour group from Korea began to cook cabbage. They continued to cook the cabbage which stunk out the entire train (even with towels against the gap in the door) from dawn to well after midnight. At one stage the passport officials came round to check passports for leaving Mongolia and they got straight back off the train to put on the bird flu protective face masks they had been told only to use in an emergency and this was a cabbage emergency... Part way through the eighth sitting of cabbage, Danny remembered rule one of the railway and produced a fine looking bottle of 80 percent proof Genghis Khan vodka. This immediately excited busby (the Russian with the mobile phone) and he for once put down his shouting machine. Next came a pack of cards and for a short time the stench of cabbage was forgotten. Part way through a rather complicated Japanese Tibetan Buddhist card game (and most of the way through Genghis's finest home brew) Helen realised she had the winning hand and became very animated. At this stage she jumped to her feet and flung open the door to the corridor and did a little dance to celebrate winning - it didn't take long for her to realise her mistake.... Despite the effect of the vodka the nostril busting flavour of cabbage streamed in through the door and even the Japanese Tibetan Buddhist was heard to curse the Korean cabbage producers. At this stage the Japanese Tibetan Buddhist retired to his bunk to meditate, although there is no doubt this was an attempt to minimize his breathing and therefore restrict the flow of cabbage from behind the door which had now been slammed shut and barricaded with pillows. The Russian at this stage picked up the remains of the vodka, poured it down his throat and disastrously again reached for his shouting machine (mobile phone). Eventually after; 36 hours of train journey, over 130 phone calls and around 30 potent farts from the shouting drunken ruski, a full bottle of 80 percent proof vodka, 35 and half hours of meditation by the Japanese Tibetan Buddhist, 3 back to back (cover to cover) readings of Danny's National Geographic Magazine, 8 hours of passport and customs stops, 34C degree heat, 2 dreadful nights sleep and well over 3 tonnes of cabbage by the Koreans the train arrived in Irkust... Helen and Danny now have a new list of activities required for the next leg of their trip on the train (yes this is only the first leg the second leg from Irkust to Moscow takes over 78 hours and begins again in two days): 1. Private Cabin 2. No Cabbage eating in cabins nearby 3. Private Cabin 4. No Cabbage eating in cabins nearby 5. Private Cabin 6. No Cabbage eating in cabins nearby 7. Private Cabin 8. No Cabbage eating in cabins nearby 9. Private Cabin 10. No Cabbage eating in cabins nearby 11. More than one bottle of vodka

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