Trans-Siberian Part 11: Leaving for Siberia

After checking out of the hotel I decided to check out my final destination in Moscow, Yaroslavskiya railway station, getting there 9 hours before I needed to so I could check my bag in.

Here's a tip if you didn't already realise it - take your passport everywhere, as I had to show it to check my luggage in as well as buying a SIM card, buying a ticket for the Ostankino - the list goes on. I don't know if showing people a copy of your passport is good enough but I got away with no-one confiscating it. One of the young guys working in the luggage drop-off came up and asked, "You are English? Can I have one dollar? I collect money!" I wasn't sure which part of this needed addressing first but I decided the best part would be not to engage him in further conversation.

After walking around Moscow all day I came back and was overjoyed to see my train having a platform number next to it - after the last train journey that was a very good start!

Wandered down to platform 3 in the dusk to get on my home for the next 101 hours. Train 4 to Beijing (and Train 3 back again) are the only ones run by Chinese Railways as opposed to the Russians, so we didn't have any provonitzas, just male Chinese guards.

The train ends up in Beijing and the sign on the outside of each carriage is written in Russian, Chinese and Mongolian. The Russians still call Beijing "Pekin", while the Mongolian below it seems to translate as "Bzzjin".

On getting on the train I found myself sharing with a lawyer from Queenstown, New Zealand called Nic, who had flown to London at the end of March and was travelling overland back to Australia before flying home, over a 10 week period. In the next three cabins were a family from Cardiff - Anna, Xavier and three young children who had been travelling for two months and had another year to go! Xavier was from France but had perfect English with virtually no accent and the children were properly bilingual. The other four cabins were taken up by Chinese guards who seemed to stay in their room for 99% of the time. Other than a Danish couple who had perfect English, and a much older English couple who we bumped into at station from time to time, we didn't see anyone else to talk to - everyone was just too far away.

Okay, so let's have an explore of what we've got here. Here's my cabin:

Not bad and it's got a 220V charging point - good enough to charge a laptop - and a shower, let's have a look at that ...

Oh. So no hot water. And if you can also imagine ketchup sliding out of a bottle, you're not too far away from the shower pressure.

The carriage was very smart and clean, on day one at least. More charging points in the corridor too.

And of course a samovar, there's always a samovar on these trains, it's one of the great things about them. Have to admit being in Russia I was thinking it was going to be something like this:

This is what we actually got:

If you turn the tap on you WILL get 100C water shooting off in all directions, mainly towards your unguarded hand. Using it when the train is jolting from side to side is even more fun.

I also took some photos of the toilets but they didn't come out. Shame as you would have loved to have seen them. The one in our carriage had a deep end and a shallow end. There's a foot pedal to flush and you watch everything you've just squeezed out fall through to the track below.

Here's the restaurant car, the only place where we saw any Russian staff. They made it clear very early on that you weren't allowed to take any photos, including of the menu, which only goes to make it more of a challenge.

The beer was overpriced - a can of 500ml of Baltika 7 was 170 roubles (£3.50). I decided to brave having some breakfast one morning and for 250 roubles (£5.20) I got two cold tomatoes stuffed with what looked like Tesco sandwich filler.

One thing did make me laugh about this place though. I paid for my breakfast getting rid of all my 10 rouble and 5 rouble coins - no notes. Five minutes later Nick tried to pay for his with a note only to be told that they had no change and gave him some sweets instead of the 30 roubles he was due!

Now I appreciate that in high season things may be very different but travelling in May isn't exactly low season - our daytimes through Siberia tended to be about 25C. But the idea that the train is a bustling party bus of a train all year round full of Russians drinking vodka is now well and truly debunked. In total our train had 12 passenger carriages - 2 first class and 10 second class. There were no 3rd class carriages on the train. The first class carriages had 8 rooms holding 2 each and in second class each carriage could hold 8 rooms of 4, so the maximum number of passengers was 352. We reckon that there were only 32 passengers on the whole train - and almost certainly more crew than that. We heard from someone in second class that they'd tried to get first class tickets at the last minute but were told that first class was full which it clearly isn't.

Ready now for five nights and four days on the train until I reach Ulaanbaatar.

Next:     Trans-Siberian Part 12: Day 1 on the big train - Moscow to Perm
Previous:     Trans-Siberian Part 10: Random Moscow

Last updated 01 June 2013 12:54

A bird

I think I'm meant to do an "About" here but I think you'd be more interested in seeing a random seagull.


  • Introduction
  • Part 1: Billericay to Cologne
  • Part 2: Warsaw
  • Part 3: Kiev
  • Part 4: The train to Moscow
  • Part 5: The Ostankino Tower
  • Part 6: Around VDNZh park
  • Part 7: Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines
  • Part 8: The Moscow Metro
  • Part 9: Moscow city centre
  • Part 10: Random Moscow
  • Part 11: Leaving for Siberia
  • Part 12: Moscow to Perm
  • Part 13: Yekaterinburg to Novosibirsk
  • Part 14: Tayga to Nizhneudinsk
  • Part 15: Lake Baikal to Mongolia
  • Part 16: Crossing the Russia/Mongolia border
  • Part 17: Exploring Ulaanbaatar
  • Part 18: A great big statue of Ghengis Khan
  • Part 19: The Zaisan Monument
  • Part 20: Beers from many lands

  • Gigs

  • 08.12.2015 Shed Seven, Hatfield
  • 27.11.2015 Vile Electrodes, Brentwood
  • 07.11.2015 Asylums, Southend
  • 30.10.2015 Baby Blues, Brentwood
  • 02.10.2015 Fireworks, Harringay
  • 25.09.2015 Lydia Lucy, Brentwood
  • 28.08.2015 Dani Clay, Brentwood
  • 24.07.2015 Indietracks
  • 17.07.2015 Latitude Festival
  • 11.07.2015 Brownstock Festival
  • 11.07.2015 Southend Village Green
  • 26.06.2015 The Who, Hyde Park
  • 20.06.2015 Blur, Hyde Park
  • 13.06.2015 British Sea Power, Camden
  • 06.06.2015 1000 Yard Stare, Charing Cross
  • 03.06.2015 Madness, Great Leights
  • 31.05.2015 Los Endos, Hornchurch
  • 29.05.2015 Juke, Brentwood
  • 28.05.2015 Pop Will Eat Itself, Shoreditch
  • 24.05.2015 Ride, Camden
  • 24.04.2015 Kaleidophone, Brentwood
  • 27.03.2015 Finding Miranda, Brentwood
  • 13.03.2015 Francesca Priest, Brentwood
  • 13.02.2015 Kaiser Chiefs, Greenwich
  • 06.02.2015 Ryan Green, Brentwood
  • 31.01.2015 Sulk - Hackney
  • 23.01.2015 Velvet Tree, Brentwood
  • 11.01.2015 Bis, Pentonville
  • 19.12.2014 High/Low, Southend
  • 12.12.2014 Break For Cover, Brentwood
  • 28.11.2014 For The Love Of Bob, Brentwood
  • 22.11.2014 Carter USM, Brixton
  • 31.10.2014 Band From Co Hell, Brentwood
  • 28.10.2014 Steve Hackett, Westcliff
  • 20.10.2014 Hafdis Huld, Charing Cross
  • 11.10.2014 Stillmarillion, Ruislip
  • 26.09.2014 D'Ukes, Brentwood
  • 13.09.2014 Flag Factory Festival, Brentwood
  • 03.09.2014 Kate Bush, Shepherd's Bush
  • 30.08.2014 Brownstock Festival
  • 08.08.2014 Killing Jimmy, Brentwood
  • 20.07.2014 Brentwood Festival
  • 19.07.2014 Latitude Festival
  • 18.07.2014 Juke, Brentwood
  • 20.06.2014 Pete Brame, Brentwood
  • 30.05.2014 Bow Flats, Brentwood
  • 25.05.2014 Pop Will Eat Itself, Islington
  • 23.05.2014 Arctic Monkeys, Finsbury Park
  • 14.05.2014 Wolf Alice, Cambridge
  • 30.04.2014 Yes, Westcliff
  • 25.04.2014 Ordinary Noise, Brentwood
  • 19.04.2014 Darling Buds, Charing Cross
  • 28.03.2014 Mannequins, Brentwood
  • 26.03.2014 Menswear, Shepherd's Bush
  • 23.03.2014 Republica, Islington
  • 14.03.2014 Franz Ferdinand, Camden
  • 28.02.2014 Ryan Green, Brentwood
  • 27.02.2014 Republica, Balham
  • 03.02.2014 Maximo Park, Bethnal Green
  • 31.01.2014 Scarlet Echo, Brentwood
  • 22.11.2013 Nedstock, Shepherd's Bush
  • 18.11.2013 Pub Serv Bcasting, Cambridge
  • 04.11.2013 Art Brut, Tunbridge Wells
  • 01.11.2013 Steve Hackett, Cambridge
  • 23.10.2013 Suede, Westcliff
  • 27.09.2013 Primitives, Southend
  • 21.09.2013 Duckworth Lewis Method, SB
  • 14.09.2013 The Flag Factory Festival
  • 06.09.2013 Jonny Cola/A Grades, Harlow
  • 25.07.2013 Bis, Pentonville
  • 19.07.2013 Latitude Festival
  • 17.07.2013 Taffy, Camden
  • 05.07.2013 Brentwood Festival
  • 26.06.2013 Bleech, Bethnal Green
  • 22.06.2013 Battle Stage Final
  • 09.06.2013 Tibetan Tea Company, Romford
  • 26.05.2013 Battle Stage 3
  • 25.05.2013 Muse, Highbury
  • 21.05.2013 Dirty Royals, Islington
  • 18.05.2013 Mika Bomb, Southend
  • 18.05.2013 Battle Stage 2
  • 27.04.2013 Battle Stage 1
  • 06.04.2013 Dingus Khan, Southend
  • 16.03.2013 Republica, Tunbridge Wells
  • 09.03.2013 Phoenix In The Foyer
  • 27.02.2013 Kaiser Chiefs, Cambridge
  • 26.02.2013 Bleech, Cambridge
  • 19.02.2013 History Of Apple Pie, Shoreditch
  • 12.02.2013 Sonic Boom Six, Southend
  • 06.02.2013 The 1975, Southend
  • 25.01.2013 Archetype, Brentwood
  • 02.12.2012 Lighting Up Shenfield
  • 01.12.2012 Lighting Up Brentwood
  • 24.11.2012 Lovely Eggs, Southend
  • 20.11.2012 Focus, Chislehurst
  • 10.11.2012 Carter USM, Brixton
  • 03.11.2012 Taffy, Clerkenwell
  • 02.11.2012 Bleech, Harlow
  • 27.10.2012 Phoenix In The Foyer 2
  • 15.09.2012 Phoenix In The Foyer 1
  • 01.08.2012 Blur, Margate
  • 08.07.2012 Brentwood Festival
  • 29.06.2012 Bis, Pentonville
  • 22.06.2012 Knifeworld, Pentonville
  • 08.06.2012 Jim Bob, Bedford
  • 02.06.2012 Coldplay, Highbury
  • 30.05.2012 Evans The Death, Chelmsford
  • 11.05.2012 The Others, Putney
  • 04.05.2012 BAS II, Basildon
  • 29.04.2012 Break For Cover, Ingatestone
  • 18.03.2012 The Brownies, Shoreditch
  • 24.02.2012 Neil Hannon, Felsted
  • 29.01.2012 Kaiser Chiefs, Westcliff

  • Interviews

  • 28.06.1996 Frank and Walters
  • 01.07.2006 Sultans of Ping

  • Random writings

  • Aris Salonica
  • Lake Margaretting

  • Essex Walks

  • 1. Goldhanger
  • 2. Downham