Wednesday, June 10, 2009
In My Sights
This is a dream trip for me. I have been thinking about taking the train from Moscow to Beijing for almost 15 years now. The trip from Moscow to Beijing would take 5 1/2 days without ever getting off the train. But, for me, I much prefer stopping off in some Siberian cities and villages. Plus, I'd have to see the world's largest lake and take in some days in Mongolia. My guess is that the whole trip would be 2-3 weeks. Obviously, it would be great if my wife goes along. However, the person I'd most like to share a berth with is my uncle, Jim Vann of Headland. He got me started on my travels to Russia and Central Asia in the early 90's, so it would be fitting to have him join me once again. Here's a video of someone's own personal journey on this train.
Finally, here's a writeup an American ex-pat friend in Bangkok did for me. He's been on the Russian rails.
Well, I started from Beijing. I got a ticket and had to wait for 10 days in Beijing. I then got the train, a Russian coach. We went up to Harbin and dogglegged to Manzhanouli. The border crossing was quite weird. There was this big walkway on both sides of the border. We got into Russia and switched bogies, because the Russians have a different gauge. Then, we started a massive haul to Moscow. We skirted Lake Baikal, through snow-covered Siberian fields. They were really big properties, they must have been collectives. I met some Russians through a British woman. They were very friendly and mellow, even. I got off at one stop and was late getting on the train. The Russian guard picked me up bodily and put me on the train. He was a powerful man. I enjoyed the Russians I met. I stayed in an apartment in Moscow. It was $7 a night for a bed. I was in Moscow for three days. It was really interesting. St. Basil's was fascinating. I am glad to have seen in then, before it became overrun with glitzy shops. Still, I would like to see it again, in the Summer.