Transsib Moscow - Irkutsk
Hey Folks!

Since I have a lot of time, I am writing "live".
I am sitting in the Transiberian Express - train number 082 - going from Moscow to Irkutsk. It's about 6pm Moscow time and I'm on the train for about 29 hours now. In two hours I'll beat my personal record of 30 hours travelling. Last summer? Or was it even the summer before I went from Bangkok - Thailand to Londonderry - Ireland straight, with a spectecular baggage exchange on a train stop in Siegburg. In two hours I will have beaten my old record with a trip of which two thirds are still ahead of me.

Thanks to Lizas mother, I have enough supplies left. I think I would not even have to visit the board restaurant if I wanted.
Thanks to Liza, the train is much better then I thought before. She told me all the horror stories, about bad conditions, muggers, pickpockets and other bad people. I will quote Liza. She said to me "A non firm train is death for you!". I guess you did that on purpose? So that I would have nice suprise when I come in? Or maybe I got lucky and the train is really not as bad as the others. The toilet looks by far, better then the toilets on the train station, for which I had to pay 20 rubles.

I am the only foreigner in my whole wagon, that's about 60 people, or more (counting children) So far I haven't explored the whole train, but there are two spanish people, of which one speaks english, in the next wagon. We're going to have a beer in an hour or two!
There is a guy my age, his father, and some girl sitting next /or over me. They will get out the train tomorrow, in a city called Krasnoyarsk. I got used to the fact that my neighbours change all the time, seems like noone wants to take such a long journey, except the spanish guys of course! I guess if you do something because you want to do it, and not because a silly job requires you to go somewhere, it's more fun! :D

Eventhough I am in Russia for a bout three weeks already, the feeling of being far away hit me yesterday. Being with Liza and her family made me feel home, or at least not far away from home. But sitting in this train, between people that do not understand a single! word English, all together going somewhere, made me feel alone. I read about this train, I watched documentaries, I've dreamt about it. And then finally, now I am sitting here, feeling like on a ship when closing my eyes. I can't really express how happy I am to finally be here, despite everything that is behind me. I shed a tear of happyness.

The train
My bed is about 180 cm long and maybe 80 cm wide. There is a little table infront of me, and across that the bed of my neighbour. There are two beds above us. The seat that I sleep on is mine, and people can only sit down, if I move away my blanket. My baggage is stored in a box under my seat, so that while I sleep nobody can access it and it's safe. If you have an upper seat, you have to put the baggage on a shelv over your bed, which is not as safe as the box. At the end of my bed there is a hallway, across which two more beds are. paralel to the window.
Basicially you sleep, watch, eat and drink. That's all about it.
Some people like to listen to music non stop (I don't even have a mp3 player, so I listen a little bit music while writing this on my laptop. Six hours of battery on my laptop on 53 hours of effective train ride - excluding the hours I will probably sleep) Most people eat all day long, or drink all day long. I met a couple of russian guys who where so drunk that they didn't believe me I don't talk russian, even after telling them IN RUSSIAN! Anyway, after 15 minutes of pointless communication in which they drank a half bottle of vodka and two liters beer, they went to sleep, again.

The toilet - about 1 sqm big - is as every train toilet disgusting, but working! cold water, soap and toilet paper are still there, who knows how long.
If you want to drink tea or prepare some instant dishes - hot water is for free.

The landscape...
is as booring as it is, stunning. A guy was laughing at me, looking at me taking pictures of the Taiga. Fields, forrests and little dead, or sometimes halfdead villages. I read that, according to Russias 2002 census, of Russians 155.000 villages, 13.000 had been deserted and 35.000 had populations of less then 10 people. That must be those villages. Countless left/destroyed/or burned houses and fabrics. As sad as it is, it's stunning. Well, mix the picture of those dead cities with large pine or birk forrests, and you pretty much got the picture of what I was riding through the last 29 hours!
I can't wait to get out of this regions! :)

I will have supper now, and then head out to eat and drink something with the spanish guys, who just came to my seat and wanted to pick me up!

I was listening to Daft Punk- Voyager, while writing this!

So well. I arrived in Irkutsk finally. Yesterday at 02:32 local time my train arrived in Irkutsk and I took a taxi to the place of my Couchsurfing hosts Alex and Irina. They practicially live in the center of Irkutsk and it only took five minutes to get there.
Alex and Irina are both working in Irkutsk, although unfortunately Alex got into a car accident a few months ago and still has to attend medical therapy every day.

I will probably put this into the next post, and I don't want to spoil too much ;)

I guess I will spend a few days in Irkutsk, as the town is celebrating it's 350 year anneversary, and then head to Lake Baikal.
I heard good, and read alot about a place called Nikitas Homestay on Olkohn Island, LINK
900 Rubles for a place to sleepa and three full meals sound like a good deal!

After that I will go to Mongolia, straight.
2 videos
Entry by Mateusz from Poland
On 12.09.2011 at 17:11
po prostu super lukas tak dalej :D jak tylko wrócisz masz przyjecha? do polski !!!!
Reply by Luke
On 12.09.2011 at 17:24
Maybe I'll be home for my Birthday. I guess so :)
Entry by TATA from Poland
On 12.09.2011 at 13:21
Sehr interessant. In diesem Jahr schon zweite mal folge ich einer Reise nach Bajkal. Auf polnisch Bajkal heist bainahe Bajka = Maerchen. Grusse.
Entry by Imke from Germany
On 12.09.2011 at 12:30
Hi Luki,
thanks for sharing your trip with us! I already marked Irkutsk with a blue needle on the large map hanging in our livingroom. So Tido, Tobi, Helmut and I try to follow you while sitting round the table having our meals:-) Have fun! Mama
Reply by Luke
On 12.09.2011 at 17:25
That is just too sweet :) Now, just as before I will try to keep the news together and not let this turn into some kind of facebook wall. So you will hear from me every few days, when enough happened. :)
Entry by Helmut from Germany
On 12.09.2011 at 10:45
Published today, but written some days ago, right? So for us old people it could be interesting to add a list, table, register or whatever to document the stages of your trip!!?? I think you arrived yesterday in Irkutsk? Do you already have the ticket for the next stage or is the date just open? Have a nice time in and around Irkutsk!
btw: Hi Liza! :-)
Reply by Luke
On 12.09.2011 at 12:12
Yes exactly, written some days ago, published today! I arrived yesterday night, 02:30 local time, and am now with my hosts Alex and Irina from Couchsurfing! I will give an update later, because we're going to make dinner now! I Make the salad! :D
Entry by Liza from Russia
On 12.09.2011 at 09:17
Hey))i'm happy that everything went well and sorry for scary you)But i should pay your attention and make you careful)waiting for soon talk with you, honey!))Enjoy your trip)