Sunday 9 September 2012

The Trans-Siberian Saga - Part 2, Day 3

Another day, another place; same train, same compartment. Oh, and a new timezone to boot. A gourmet (not really) breakfast of honey-hazelnut instant porridge followed by a giant mug of black tea dosed with a pod of longlife milk. All this made using hot water from a samovar running on what looks like whatever combustible rubbish our provodnitsa (carriage attendant) could find to stuff into the burner. Whiled away the early morning with a few hundred pages of Kindle reading.

Station at Sunset - On the Trans-Siberian Railway
Burly Alec had departed at one of the train stations last night, clearing the way for 4th berth occupant number five, Roma, a young engineering graduate on a short holiday home to Krasnoyarsk from work. His English was marginally better than our Russian, but he was engaging enough to chat to. We learned that two years of military service was compulsory for young men in Russia, that he also did not like America, that he would have preferred to fly to his hometown rather than ride this slow train if only there was an airport, and that Russkiy Standart was indeed a very good vodka.

Views - On the Trans-Siberian Railway
Likeable Sergey popped by our compartment again this morning, excited to invite us, along with Danes Pia and Rikke, around to his Compartment 2 to meet his new buddies Neil and Maerii, a fabulous Brit couple who had hopped on last night at Yekaterinburg. Turns out these guys had just started an extended life-changing journey around the globe just like us - way cool!

The Brits - On the Trans-Siberian Railway
After hours of sharing stories of the world and all our funny and scary experiences (and crossing yet another timezone), it was endearing to see Likeable Sergey loading his camera up with photos of us all to show his family, so obviously chuffed at having gathered these foreigners together, as we hugged and said goodbye to him on the platform of Omsk.

The Gang - On the Trans-Siberian Railway
It was evident from Ben's previous attempts to take photos in the rear carriage that moving between carriages was frowned upon, but just for kicks we decided to explore the train. Putting on our best we-belong-here demeanour, we managed to discover all the carriages up until the front engines, including the first class, platzkart (third class) and restaurant carriages. The platzkart carriages looked fun, with whole families watching movies on laptops, beer and card games being played between neighbours, in between napping elderly passengers.

One of the Nicer Carriages - On the Trans-Siberian Railway
We garnered a few questioning looks from the provodnitsa, especially upon returning back through the carriages, but nobody said "Nyet" this time. Photos were at first refused in the restaurant carriage, but the rules seem to change when this fellow turned up.

Friendly Russians - The Restaurant Carriage on the Trans-Siberian Railway
It had been a relatively quiet day, and we decided to complement our pot noodles with a beer that evening, so we moseyed on down to the restaurant car for a light beverage. Famous last words.

The Restaurant Carriage - On the Trans-Siberian Railway
Young Roma was there, so we got to broken Russian-English chatting again. Then Danes Pia and Rikke, and Brits Neil and Maerii joined us for a few more beers. Somehow the beers grew to several one litre cans (and can crushing) and a bottle of Russkiy Standart vodka. Then it was Sergey's birthday. Who's that?

The Trouble maker - On the Trans-Siberian Railway
Oh just a random adidas-clad stranger (not to be confused with the Likeable Sergey we farewelled at Omsk), who was very friendly with the restaurant staff and began plying us with more beer, and rubbery pieces of dried fish.

Where did the dry fish come from? - On the Trans-Siberian Railway
It really was not that tasty - Dried fish -  On the Trans-Siberian Railway
The restaurant car eventually closed, so we quietly (not really) headed back to our carriage to keep the party going in an empty compartment. Someone kept yelling "Happy Birthday Sergey!" ... oh wait, that may have been me ...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SERGEY.... shhhhh -  On the Trans-Siberian Railway
shhhhh - On the Trans-Siberian Railway
The Night Continues -  On the Trans-Siberian Railway
Then Roger and Kathy from France boarded the train, ready to settle into their sleeper compartment, only to find a birthday party in progress.

The French - On the Trans-Siberian Railway
Oops sorry, we apologised as we hightailed it to the only place left to us on a claustrophobic train - the smoker compartment.

The Party Room - On the Trans-Siberian Railway
French Roger being the cool guy he was, thought it was awesome to have landed a party train this time and joined us in the tiny room, as did another creepy oh-so-half-naked Russian man who tried to kiss and carry off some of the girls. I vaguely recall Sergey and Neil resupplying us with some more beer and dried fish, vodka, Gammel Dansk, a packet of biscuits, ice-cream bars, a single pear and its culinary match, a roasted chicken leg ...

Do we really need anymore Vodka? - On the Trans-Siberian Railway
Is that a Chicken Leg, where did this Ice cream come from... and why do I have a bottle of vodka in my hand? - On the Trans-Siberian Railway
... before finding myself waking up to the harsh light of the next morning, on the same train and the same compartment as the day before, only this time with a dull headache.

The Train - On the Trans-Siberian Railway

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