10. At the End of the Rails: A Train Buff’s Russian Trans-Siberian Adventure

10. At the End of the Rails

On Saturday June 24th, finally Rossiya, train# 002, the superfast express train, pulled into Vladivostok train station exactly at 7am, local time, or give or take 23:45 Friday night Moscow time. All along the 7 night, 6 full days travel (144 hours), the train was running on Moscow time. Our carriage had an electronic board on both sides of the carriage number, and Moscow time only. No local time is visible of train or train station platforms. Even platforms go by Moscow time. Since it changes to 7 time zones, after leaving Moscow to Vladivostok, the time on all long distance trains within Russia, maintain Moscow arrival and departure time.

I spent about 90 minutes packing my two bags on Friday afternoon. By Friday dinner time, I was already packed, went to dinner at the train’s diner, came back and climbed into my upper berth bed, with my black pants, black socks, a shirt hanging on the hanger with my jacket, that’s it. I set my watch alarm to 6am, but, I was up by 5:30am on Saturday. Just went to the toilet, freshen up a little, removed the white bed sheets and pillow case, and give it to the attendant, while she came by to collect it.

The train was on arrival time: 23:45 Moscow time, by the time we got off, it was just about 7am, Saturday, local time in Vladivostok. As we stepped down the last step of the train, I said to the attendant: “Dasvidanya” (goodbye). She responded “Dasvidanya”, with a smile!

 

 

Dasvidanya Rossiya 002!

 

 

 

 

 It was quite an adventurous train journey. I enjoyed it very well. Never crossed my mind to get it over quickly. I was enjoying every minute of it. Sure there were few hick-ups in the 7 nights, 6 days journey, but they were manageable. There were few foreigners on this train.  Its one of those bucket list item that I wanted to accomplish, and in the planning and research stages for the past 7 years or so. I had to make it happen with finances, planning and a ton of moral support and encouragement from Denise.

 

 

 

 Hello Canadian? It will be Denise and I on this one, perhaps next year?  Look up “The Canadian” on internet, you will get the gist of it!

 

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8. Getting Cash Presents Challenges: A Train Buff’s Russian Trans-Siberian Adventure

8.  Getting Cash Presents Challenges

On Wednesday morning June 21st, 7am local time, got my ATM cash at Irkutsk. Was early to get cash. One of my debit card from US was not accepted with the pass code at the train’s dining car, but did accept the pass code at the ATM machine. 2 passengers we met got off in Irkutsk. There were no food vendors in Irkutsk. All my bananas gone.

 

 Took several pictures of Lake Baikal. Most passengers on the train got off in Irkutsk.  The train ride is very choppy, will continue to write tomorrow morning. The train slowed down a little bit. The train electric poles was a hindrance while taking pictures. Lots of pictures of hills and trees, farm homes. Lot of them rickety ones.

 Had chicken and vegetable soup for lunch. Michael and I joined to have lunch. Had eaten dinner, and had chicken, vegetables and potatoes. Michael and I ate at the same table for dinner. Again took several pictures after dinner. Stayed in touch texting Denise , and a text to my sons Steve and Dave. Waiting for a larger station to arrive, so that I can buy some bananas.

On Thursday June 22nd evening, a new passenger boarded the train. He is Vladimir. Working as an Engineer with Russian railway. Young fellow and inquisitive, spoke very little English. He said his sister goes to college in Miami. Michael and I took picture with him.

 

First time I had baked cod for dinner with cucumber and tomato at the diner. I’ll rate the dinner as average, and it cost 450 Roubles, plus I tipped 50 Roubles.  As the train is moving, lots of grasslands and trees, and small huts with tarp and wooden frames. Took several pictures of sunset to the west. Daylight through 10:30pm.

 

 

 

 

 Passed through couple of rivers. Also bought two large bottles of water for couple days. I am enjoying the train travel.

 

 

1. In My Early Years: A Train Buff’s Russian Trans-Siberian Adventure

  1.  In My Early Years

 I love train travel. Ever since I was 12 years old, I traveled overnight train from outside of Bombay to Hyderabad in South India. It was twice a year to the boarding school in Hyderabad, for 6 years till I was 18. I was the only student in the boarding, coming from a distant region to attend school and stay in boarding, and go home in summer and Christmas holidays. All the locomotive engines were steam from Pune to Hyderabad.

At age 18 I moved to USA in 1964, joined my dad and family. First time I returned to India was for 3 weeks in 1987, and most of the travel was by plane inside India, and one overnight train journey. It all started back in 1998, when I took off to India for 60 days. I quit my subcontractor position as a financial analyst at an aerospace company near Los Angeles, and told my girl friend Denise, I want to ride the Indian rails on a mass scale. She encouraged me to take that long trip. I let go of the apartment I was renting.

 So there I went, with a 60 day Indrail Pass, which allowed me to travel on any train, but had to make reservation for a sleeping berth. Indian trains are crowded , and requires lengthy planning. It helped getting reservations on AC2 (Air Condition) carriages on various trains, due to foreign reserve quotas. The longest duration I traveled was on Kerala Express, from New Delhi to Trivandrum. Kerala Express was a 3 day, 2 night travel. The train went through various states, all the way to deep South India. Some were electric engines.

On this trip all the other train journey’s were a one night journey, and did visit few relatives in various Indian states. I enjoyed the 60 day trip to India. This was primarily a spiritual pilgrimage journey. I thought I had a good fill with trains, for a while. I stayed at many hotels close to train stations, about 15 of them. Just before starting my journey, I came across “India by Rail” guide book, and was a great asset.