Saturday, May 24, 2014

Moscow to Beijing - day 2

I slept very well though the train jolted a lot during the night. The driver would just touch the brakes and every carriage would jolt and bang and then the same when he speeded up again.

Did you know that there are a lot of birch trees in Russia? It was fortunate that I like the look of this kind of tree because there were thousands of miles of them. And of course I had already seen loads of them in Norway, Sweden and Finland.

The Trans Siberian line is very heavily used and there are trains passing in the opposite direction every few minutes. Parts of the line carry the most traffic in the world.

Fortunately, the windows on the corridor side could slide up and down so it was possible to get decent photos without having to try to go through two panes of glass. Of course, on a moving train, it's difficult to frame photos so cropping has been my friend.

There is no way you can thread your way through this level crossing.

I was surprised by the variety of style of housing though most houses were unpainted.

I think all of us had the book that describes the journey. It was quite useful. We were already some 700 miles east of Moscow and already we were having some difficulty adapting to the changing time zones. I just kept my watch on official Moscow time and ate when I felt like it. The entire Russian railway runs on Moscow time, which makes sense in such a large country.

Whenever the train passes a station or a group of railway workers, there is always somebody holding the yellow stick.

I found the variety of housing really interesting. At times I wondered how they would hold up to the cold in the depths of winter but at least, they all have plenty of wood to burn.

Many of the trains coming the other way consisted of tanks, presumably of gas or some other fuel.

A newer house with some colour.

Many of the towns and cities had garages or sheds lining the track.

Station signs usually had both styles of writing. Before I left home I had loaded the OsmAnd app on to my cell phone and it worked very well for letting me know where we were.

The Russian engines are huge. The gauge is 5 feet so they can use bigger engines. Regular standard gauge is 4' 8 1/2".

We started to see some platform vendors but nobody was ab out to sell us anything.

The samovar at the end of the corridor which gives hot water for tea, coffee or noodles.

The carriage attendants spoke virtually no English. They would indicate to us as we descended from the carriage how much time we had by raising the appropriate number of fingers. Usually, they had us back inside five minutes before the train departed.

The side of our carriage.

A vendor at a station later in the day. She was waiting for another train going in a different direction.

The coal fire that heats the samovar.

Between the carriages. Not for the faint of heart or the totally boozed.

Rob, John Max and Tony in the restaurant car. In another blog I will show photos of the menu.

Blue is popular for adding colour to your house.

Some mighty river that flows north to the Arctic. The land seems to be fertile and well watered so there should be no problem growing lots of food.

More sheds.

I found a vendor who sold ice-cream which I bought for about 50 cents. It was quite warm so the ice-cream was very welcome. and it tasted fine. Rob scored a banana.

A tractor taking stuff to somewhere or other.

The water tanks for each carriage were filled.

One of our attendants. Each carriage carried two and they had their own compartment.

The open window which allowed decent photos to be taken. It also provided a refreshing breeze.

Did I tell you I like birch trees?

Eventually night fell. When the train stopped we all still got out to stretch our legs.

No doubt you can all tell that this was Yekaterinburg where the Czar and his family were shot during the revolution.

Smoke from the samovar fire.

Most stations are really lonely looking places at night. I seem to remember that the Chinese bloke came around and sold us each a bottle of beer and that sent me off to sleep.

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