Kirsty RTW '04/'05 travel blog

Train no 9 Irkutsk to Mockba!

One of the babushkas at the station selling food

Soviet looking train

Haggling at the station

Novosibirsk, impressive station building

Me, Dennis, Tess, Marge n Patrick crowded in!

Me in the ruski armee uniform!

Igor frantically checkin his price list!

Sad farewell to new pals!

Wooden hooses in rural villages along the way

Teaching Andrei 'Bad Russian'

Loadsa trees!

Andrei n the coo face!

Remote Siberian get away

Russian churches

Funny times had by all!

Well got on da train at 1620, due to get off in 4 days time in Europe, crossing a third of the world on train will be complete. Met Tess n Marg, mum n daughter from Melbourne, ozzies, pretty cool ones at that :) I was over the moon not to have my nightmare scenario of me n three big drunk russian guys in the carraige! We were happy to see that we had an empty berth in the carriage, but 2 stops later a guy in a russian army uniform gets on. I was happy tho get to start practicing all that Russian I been learning in the train up to Irkutsk. He did end up having to tell us his name about 4 times in order for us to gte it right, Marge was the worst, she still couldnae mind his name 3 days later!- I was embarrassed for her!! :P

Advantages of having two well prepared females in the carriage and a russian as opposed to three western males was quickly evident when they started haukling out an extensive picnic, plates cutlery n all. I was well impressed, and very happy wit my compartment, no more eating dry cereal n yogurt for me! No, I had actually visited the market in Irkutsk and nearly missed ma train cos of it and bought lots of nice fruit n salad stuff, so wasnae bein really mingy! The pravadnitsas on this train were much more entrepeneurial than the last ones, with sweets, biscuits, juice all lying on your table for purchase, making you pay 60roubles for the sheets on da train, (free last time :( ), and coming round trying to sell books, dvds, videos! Tho on this trip there are lOAds stuff to buy at all the stations, everything you can imagine!

Scnery out the train, really nice, lots of trees, firs, wee wooden houses, some with wee toilet shack at teh end of the garden.

Day 2 passed pretty quickly after a nice long sleep, then eating more tasty food supplied by my luvly neighbours. We also had a good laff at the carriage attendant who tried to sell us stuff fromhis wee trolley, something like the service we get on scotrail, except they would tend to know the prices and not have to search for 20minutes to get the price of the stuff on their trolley, not like he had a lot, maybe a choice of 7 or 8 things!! Igor, he was pretty funny tho!

Vadym, Marg n Tess partook in the aussie(or Im not sure if its just Marges)beer o clock(5pm), with Marge in charge of the drinking! Jeez, those aussies know how to make a train trip pass :)

Finished the day off with a trip along to the restaurant car to meet the old neighbours from sweden and usa. Patrick with his usual enthusiasm got Vadym to warm to him pretty quickly, and from then on it was Patrick this n Patrick that!

Another great sleep on the trans siberian, wonder how ill be on a normal bed again, one that doesnat rock n roll, the girls think that the train ramps up the speed in the middle of the night, maybe something like bps in the cover of the night flaring policy!?

Following day we met the elusive neighbours of Peter n Joakim, the boxers who we see doing a jog round every station, they were all 20ish year olds going to Moscow for a boxing tournament. After having met them, they turned up in oor carriage a few hours later, so all of a sudden oor quiet carriage was full, wit igor, Dennis, Patrick ,the boxers, standing room only. Funny how far a lonely planet russian phrasebook and constantly pestering of your russian roommate can get ya. i was soon able to express maself in basic conversations, that included the words nice, expensive, bad, beautiful..... Amazing how far you can make those words go when ya really need to!!

Already i seem to have been promoted to chief russian speaker, Vadym speaks not bad english, tho we get stuck a lot, and the book is small book! So not much use for vocab describing poilics, russian situation in the world today, perestroika, abramovich, yeah, intellectual stuff. Found out Vadym is a Major in the Russian army, lived in teh DDR as his dad was in the russian army, and mongolia serving there as well. Varied life!

The time was approaching for Tess, Margaret n Patrick to get off the train, so Vadym ordered the beers in, for the boys only mind ya! It wasnt quite 5pm for Marge so she sat bak and kept to the tea! They were all gettin off at Yekaterinburg, a really famous place that wouldve been nice to see ! In the farewell celebrations Vadym suggested Parick try on his russian army uniform, and as any self respecting tourist would do he jumped at the chance, I sneaked in for the next shot, I ahd been waiting on that all trip since he got on the train, it was the coolest thing, Patrick was being his usual friendly enthusiastic self giving gifts to Vadym. like 2 long lost pals they were, meanwhile I was in ma element in the Russiya uniform!

Then hilarity all over and it was time for a sad farewell to nice friends just met now left, hopefully to meet in Scotland in the near future...Listening girls!!!??

While at Yekaterinburg station we saw the strangest scene- all these people in traditional dress, headscarves, following a picture of a holy person carried by a priest, someone else carrying the incence. They stopped ootside carriae 14! oors!! So after a lot of sad singing n a lOt of tears, they all kissed the picture and knelt down in front of it, obviously we were witness to a pretty important ceremony, this pic was going someplace. As it happens, yup you guessed it, in oor compartment, Tess n Marge were quickly replaced by a pretty stern looking guy adn a pic of nicolai the 2nd, the murdered tsar, which was quickly put in a religious bag and then a black plastic bag!! The picture was the source of much interest from all the other tourists in the carriage! After my line of direct questioning we got to the bottom of the story, well ish! this pic if only 7 years old, they believe its painted with a mystical oil and can heal people. he was killed in Yekateringburg, but it lives in a church in Moscow and goes bak there once a year for its holidays! It has been to a few places in Europe so its well travelled!

Turns oot no hes not a priest or a monk, only a security guard, think Vadym was pleased as he didnae like the idea of having a religious guy in the carriage, me i wasnae bothered, couldnae be safer, a man of god, and an army guy!

As it turned oot Andrei was a real comic, I had showed him my pics of Scotland, and later in conversation every time he was try to describe meat to me he would stick his tongue up his face, only later did I relaise the significance of this, the highland coo in ma posTcard had his tongue in the same way, yeah ma russian skills were coming on! he spoke no English so it was a challenge, but it made me laff so much! Conversations got as far as glasnost, bad, drawn to me as a guy chopping branches off a big tree! Gorbachov, bad! Putin good, USSR good, Russia okay as well tho!

Any more detail than my basic russian skills pls chk popular russian opinion on!

Vadym Dennis and I went to the restaurant car for a last night on teh train celebration type thing! Where we watched how a real Russian drinks, you get a carafe of vodka, ordering by the hundred grams pour in2 a wee shot glass and neck it! Whew, no way i could keep up! Or even attempt to! We just watched! He taught us a card game that seemed to have random rules when you could and couldnt play a card, still none the wiser! Vadym as does everyone in the army get breath tests twice a day, every day Mon to Fri so that limits the drinking a bit! Obviously a problem!

Last day I woke up to find a third guy in the carriage, my initial nightmare scenario, now it wasnae so bad after all, all the otehr tourists were jealous as I was gettin a true trans siberian experience! The third guy turns oot was from Tajikstan, he escaped a year ago into Russian from the war, wasnae as talkative as oor Vadym n Andrei mind ya!

Stopped twice at Gorky then Vladimir then it was the big stop Mockba, arrived 1643, on time! Sad to leave the train, had been a very funny few days :)


* Average Russian male drinks 12L of pure vodka in hos lifetime, equiv to 1 bottle of vodka a week!

* Average Male Lifespan - 58years(nae shocks there!),and 71 for females

* The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a political movement in Russia that climaxed in 1917 with the overthrow of the provisional government that had replaced the Russian Tsar system, and led to the establishment of the Soviet Union, which lasted until its collapse in 1991. The Revolution can be viewed in two distinct phases. The first one was that of the February Revolution of 1917, which displaced the autocracy of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, the last effective Tsar of Russia, and sought to establish in its place a liberal republic. The second phase was the October Revolution, in which the Soviets, inspired and increasingly controlled by Vladimir Lenin's Bolshevik party, seized power from the Provisional Government. The revolution affected both the urban areas and the countryside. While many notable historical events occurred in Moscow and St. Petersburg, there was also a movement in the rural areas as peasants seized and redistributed land.

* Tsar Nicholas II (18 May 1868 - 17 July 1918)1 was the last crowned Emperor of Russia. He ruled from 1894 until his abdication in 1917. Nicholas proved unequal to the combined tasks of managing a country in political turmoil and commanding its army in the largest international war to date. His rule ended with the Russian Revolution, during which he and his family were executed, in 1918.

* Nicolais wife Alexandra bore him four daughters before their son Alexei was born on August 12, 1904. The young heir proved to be afflicted with hemophilia, which at that time was virtually untreatable and usually led to an untimely death. Because of the fragility of the autocracy at this time, Nicholas and Alexandra chose to not divulge Alexei's condition to anyone outside the royal household.

Haemophilia or hemophilia is the name of any of several hereditary genetic illnesses that impair the bodys ability to control bleeding. ...

* In desperation, Alexandra sought help from a mystic, Grigori Rasputin. Rasputin seemed to help when Alexei was suffering from internal bleeding, and Alexandra became increasingly dependent on him and his advice, which she accepted as coming directly from God. Grigori Rasputin Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin) was a Russian mystic with an influence in the later days of Russias Romanov dynasty. ...

Nicholas wanted to be loved by his people. Left to his own devices he might have accepted a system of constitutional monarchy and become a reforming Emperor. The influence of political reactionaries, principally his wife and his relatives, with Rasputin behind the scenes, made this impossible.

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