Tag Archives: Trans Siberian

Birch trees and Russian Priests… Crossing Siberia

Ryan was awoken to discover the man with a small boy sitting on his lap were talking to him. We had already been in the cramped, musky platzkart (3rd class) carriage, for thirteen hours and we had another eighteen to go, but it seemed for our neighbours that their stop was coming and this was their last chance to speak to the strange non Russian speaking foreigners. Through the man’s limited English (entirely consisting of ‘hello’, ‘how are you?’ and ‘my name is…’), our limited Russian (mainly consisting of ‘piva’ which means beer and ‘banan’ which means banana) and our trusty phrase book we managed to work out the boy was called Alexander and that the man was from Uzbekistan. Another guy, who may have been some kind of travelling religious preacher, emerged and could speak some English, well enough to tell us he’d been to the Netherlands to see a life-size recreation of Noah’s ark. Our conversation ended with handshakes and everyone saying ‘paka paka’ or bye…we had made friends on the Trans-Siberian railway.


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A train full of eight year old gymnasts…across the Russian border

As the stern looking babushka descended our compartment steps, complete with red hat emblazoned with a hammer and sickle motif, our train could not be going anywhere but Russia. She would be our provodnitsa  ( carriage attendant) for the thirty something hour journey from Ulaanbaatar to Irkusk in Siberia. Something about her appearance fulfilling every stereotype of an older Russia lady (in my head) made the prospect of finally getting to ‘The Mother land’ all the more exciting.


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