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.

 

 

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5. First Full Day on the Train: A Train Buffs’s Russian Trans-Siberian Adventure

5.  First Full Day on the Train

Woke up Sunday morning Moscow time, and looked outside. All long distance trains and train stations in Russia are on Moscow time, regardless of the time zones in various regions. During the day on Sunday, June 18th, the train went through hundreds of miles lined with greenery trees, most of them  birch and other trees, and farm lands. Lots of small houses, and very few train stops, because this train is the fastest train, called Rossiya, and stops at 25 or less stations between Moscow and Vladivostok. The weather changed from sunny to few showers, and sunny again.

The train the first day traveled through Ural regions and few rivers. Also the weather is slightly cooler, but comfortable. Passengers are friendly. Two other cabin mates in our cabin, is one Russian man (Vladimir), and the other a German who spoke fluent Russian (Michael). Both were very helpful and courteous, and spoke Russian with the train attendants, and the Michael the German, translated into English. None of the train attendants or servers in the diner spoke English. I was ready with my Google translator, if it was required or necessary. All four of us had breakfast together at the trains diner (restaurant) and shared conversation.

The other two cabin travelers are going to Irkutsk, a 4 night journey. They are very good cabin members. In the afternoon around 3pm, I bought two more large water bottles at the station. Now I’ve enough bottled water for 3 days. I’ve enough provisions for at least 3 days or even more. Maybe in Irkutsk, I’ll buy more provisions for the remaining 3 nights. So far on the first day the journey on the train has been very comfortable and very little stress. The train attendants (women) also sell coffee, bakery, puzzles, to raise revenue for the train system. The attendants stand outside the carriage steps every time the train pulls into the station, and they stand there until the train leaves. Kind of precision work.

By 8pm, the train covered 1436km to Perm II, from Moscow. There is a list of complete train stops and the time, in the walkway for the passengers to read.

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.

 

Be aware of God’s creation of our resources

Give gratitude and thanks for his blessings of our resources. Many of us take it for granted for the air we breath, water we drink and for cultivation. Vast sea’s and ocean filled with fish and sea life and sailing on the seas. Many of the mountains and forests that bring us peace, harmony and tranquility.  The big challenge is many who are enterprising and want to make money out of it, want to go ahead and make it environmentally difficult to live, especially where there is green habitat. The desire to exploit the resources that God has created is tremendous in the name of development and advancement. This is at the expense of clean environment. We must use our divine created free will and choices to make right decisions for all our communities, rather than self-interest.

Do we question why we spend so much water to raise cattle for consumption? I used to eat beef and pork until about 2006. All my growing up years in India, I didn’t eat beef or pork due to culture and religious beliefs. As soon as I landed in US, I started eating beef and pork at the age of 18. Just because cattle and pig farmers can produce their products for consumption with enormous water and other resources to fatten up the cattle and pigs, it’s not an excuse just to follow in line just to eat and live. I was told and read reports, beef and pork have excessive fat and cholesterol in them, and my doctor said to cut out the red meat and I did. I went back to my old upbringing, that is not to consume beef and pork.

When we are in awareness of the divine spirit and acknowledge God’s blessings of our resources, we must ask ourselves, is the meat healthy and are the resources spent on them beneficial as a society?  Is it better to eat alternate meats such as chicken, turkey or goat or sheep, where they consume less water and other resources for their sustenance. Remember, our resources are finite. Ofcourse, we are living in a world that God will provide our needs and for our survival. We have to learn to respect our resources and control our consumption. Let the beauty of God’s kingdom make a better place for our inner contentment.

Blessings,

Rev. Ernie Martin, The Reverend of Love, Las Vegas, Nevada

You are abundant

Abundance of tree During holidays season, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, etc, many people are depressed or lonely especially among singles and couples with relationship problems. For somehow they are not happy with themselves. They can’t wait to get the holiday season quickly vanish and hoping for January to come as soon as possible. Realize that you and I are a miracle. We have been blessed abundantly with good health, loving family and developed friendships. Also, developed working relationships at work environments and at businesses. The key here is to be grateful and thankful for what we have. When we look around us, we are bombarded with materialism and wanting to keep up with neighbors and peers.

Abundance mother earth Acknowledge God has given you energy, good health, loved ones and friends. We might want to have more of materialism because of our ego needs for fulfillment. The ego needs are short-lived. Have you ever thanked for air that you are breathing? Cheap water from the reservoir you are drinking to quench your thirst? 3 meals a day? A bed to sleep? Loved ones and friends around you? A car or bus to move around? You are blessed with abundant in your daily life and experiencing prosperity in your life. There are few who do not see the abundance in their life, such as the homeless or relationships gone bad. But, there are solutions to get back to normalcy and ask for them. Friends and even outside agencies are willing to help and guide the resource seeker for bettering their lives.

Abundace of prayer When we acknowledge and recognize how we are blessed with abundant prosperity within us, we are experiencing harmony, happiness and peace. Do thank God for that state of existence and feeling. Once we recognize to enjoy what we already have, bless them and enjoy to the fullest. We have to think in terms of prosperous consciousness, not just wanting more to fulfill the ego, which is temporary. Take time to bless the abundance you enjoy everyday with joy and with a smile. Meditate and pray on abundance and thank God for your inner contentment. When you act and project your happiness, harmony and joy, others see you what an abundant life you’ve been living and experiencing.

Blessings,

Rev. Ernie Martin, The Reverend of Love, Las Vegas, Nevada