Saturday, May 24, 2014

Moscow to Beijing - day 1

I retrieved my luggage from the concierge at the hotel and walked around to Yaroslavski Station where the Trans Mongolian (train 4) was due to leave at 21:35.

Yaroslavski Station. If you ever plan on coming to Russia, bring luggage that you can carry up and down flights of steps. Travel as light as possible.

The departures board. Train 4 at 21:35 is three from the bottom. As you can see, I was in plenty of time.

The upstairs waiting room. About 40 minutes before the time of departure, the departures board showed that the train was ready to board at track 3. I went to the top of the escalator and met another bloke who looked like he might be taking the same train. 'Train 4?' he asked. 'Carriage 9?' I replied. He was berth 8 and I was berth 7.  

I had actually checked out the station the day before so I knew where to go so I toddled over to track 3 while my room-mate John had a cigarette.

The carriages were not there yet.

But in a few minutes the train slowly backed into the station. When the train stopped, the carriage attendants stood smartly beside their appropriate carriage doors waiting for the passengers. The attendant for carriage 9 checked my ticket and passport and escorted me to the compartment.

The compartment in pristine condition. Fortunately, I had the lower berth. This did not seem to bother John who had no problem levitating into his top bunk. He did have a problem trying to fit his large suitcase into the compartment but we soon worked out how to fit it in.

The corridor.

At the appointed time, the train started off. We were on our way.

John was about 50 and originally grew up in Zimbabwe but had moved to England when Mugabe made life difficult for white people. He had very fond memories of Zimbabwe but enjoyed life just north of London.

We soon met our fellow travelers in the carriage. Down the end was Rob who looked to be about 10 - 15 years younger and came from England. Next door were very friendly two Swedes, Tony and Max. Shortly after we left, we were visited by one of the Chinese staff who offered 600 ml bottles of cold Chinese beer for 100 rubles or $3. We soon were imbibing and discovered that none of us really liked vodka.

The conversation flowed and I think we all realized that we were going to get on very well. The journey was off to a good start. Eventually, it was time for bed.

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