After our time with the physicists on Baikal, we got dropped off at the train station (above foto) in Irkutsk for the first part of a two parter Trans-Siberian Railway trip. This first leg took us to Krasnoyarsk, where we had a seven hour layover, with the second part bringing us to the last place we could get to on a train on our way to Tuva, Abakan. First, though, we waited with all of our gear (below foto. Such a huge pile!) in the train station and tried to figure out how to tell the right local time (the official train schedule for the Trans-Siberian is all listed in the local Moscow time zone for some reason. We had to calculate the time of our departure by adding 7 hours to that "official" time for our local departure time. Bureaucracy done right!).
Once time-zone calculations were in order, we wandered the station a bit. Saw the Orthodox kiosk below. Their iconography reigns supreme.
Commerce/Religion, the Religion of Commerce
Cyrillic selfie. Next time we'll have a stick
The Moscow/Irkutsk time came for us to load up into our sleeper. Melissa demonstrates the dimensions of our home for the next thirteen hours.
Our on board Samovar. Constant scalding hot water for your beverage/soup needs.
We slowly moved out of the station and we were off! Melissa contemplating our good luck at being able to ride aboard part of this massive rail network that should be one of the wonders of the (built) world.
We somehow crammed all of our gear into the overhead compartment.
Steve and train station food and Siberia going by outside the window
Even though we spent a relatively short amount of time (a total of 30 hours, which by Trans-Siberian standards is not that long of a trip. When looking at the distance we covered in relation to the rest of the railway's length, we covered a laughably small amount) aboard the train, we nonetheless got to experience the sense of community that this train/moving home for so many becomes. The man in the below foto is a teacher and would talk at us in Russian and we would talk at him in English and he seemed quite happy with those exchanges.
We watched the sun set from our sleeper cabin. Expanses rolling past that lent themselves quite well to reflection, most of which are lost to that time peering out over those seemingly endless horizons, some of which I scribbled in my journal after the fact, which are probably best left there.
Creeped on our sleeper car dood in the fading light.
The next morning, we hit up the diner car and wondered at the vegetable casket. I think Melissa got a plate of potatoes or something, whatever the case, we did not unlock the mysteries of that casket. Shortly after the below foto was taken, three rough looking doods entered the car and ordered a few rounds of beers ('round 7am). One of the gentlemen in this group, the one with a fresh looking black eye, proceeded to open his beers with his teeth. You can understand why I didn't meet the eyes of any one of the doods, much less take their picture.
We had the Baikal sheen in that lime green
Half Steve, forests and snow
We finally found our way to Krasnoyarsk. If you will recall with me one of Alisa's lovely flatmates that we hung out with in her apartment that worked in film preservation, Alyosha, you will now recall that I left some narrative strands dangling when describing him as having some friends in this part of Siberia. The main friend of Alyosha, Oksana, met us at the train station...
...and led us to her apartment, which was quite close to the station. While Oksana finished up some work stuff, we lounged about her cosy apartment, taking real showers and discovering such wonders as the light up waterfall rotary phone in the foto below.
Computer/Coffee time. The Siberian sun radiates from Jan's computer crotch
While I sought other treasures in the apartment
Out the window of Oksana's apartment, some phallic monument in the town square
We later met up with Oksana's crew to stroll about the town and get food. Even though our time in Krasnoyarsk was minimal, the impact that our time spent there amongst new friends looms quite large in our memories. Such great people doing incredible things out there in the middle of the great white East.
She found a hubcap (a spinner, at that) and was super stoked to put it on her car later.
So very stoked
We bid our new friends goodbye and caught our second 13 hour train to Abakan, wherein we met the gentleman in the fotos below. He passed by our sleeper car and was pumped that we were speaking English and invited himself in. He...would....struggle....very....hard....to.....get.....his....English words and phrases out, probably due more to his inebriation than his unfamiliarity with the language. Below you will find him caressing me. (Jancie)
and flapping about to get the words out (Jancie)
I am so glad Jan caught the moment below, where this fellow made wide "Asian eyes" at Melissa and asked her "WHY?!!" To which, Melissa looked at him very confusedly.
The dood invited us to drink with him in the dining car and we took him up on the offer, mostly to get him away from our sleeper car (because if he went and got beers and brought them back to our sleeper, we would have never have gotten rid of him). He proceeded to light up a cigarette in the no smoking dining car, act somewhat personally offended/concerned that we were heading to Tuva ("Tuva??!! WHY??!!!), be quite loud and stumble through more painfully slow English words, phrases and sometimes sentences to the point that he attracted the attention of the train police, who took interest in us, his accomplices. We sorted everything out soon enough, I think drunk Russian friend got a ticket for smoking inside, and we headed back to our cabin (where Melissa was luxuriating in an empty/quiet car with a book) to sleep. He stopped by our car after his dealings with the police to hang out more and I forcefully said "GOOD NIGHT!" to him and he finally got the idea that hang out time was officially over.
Night time sleeper cabin moves
Finally, we arrived in Abakan and stepped out of the train station to the beautiful sunrise below, ready for the last part of our trip into Tuva via hired car. We were picked up by our awesome driver, Yuri, who we would have for the rest of the week in Tuva, but I will save that (and more!) for the next post. Thus ends our Trans Siberian Railway adventures.