Day 11 - Thursday 9 March across Siberia ~ Train Day 5 ...... continued
Ulan-Ude really feels like a major halt for the Trans Siberian, no longer than a few other cities but just has a feel about it. This is helped by the amount of people leaving the train, newcomers boarding and the amount just milling around.
I saw a photo opportunity here but couldn't get a view along the platform, lucky there was a convenient gantry near to the car door. Climbed this a little and have the photo below. A shouted rebuke from our Prov which eventually turned into a small smile but more seriously the Colonel walked over and admonished me sternly in German, I punched him playfully in the arm but he only scowled.
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Here are platform photos of Ulan-Ude, the most curious surely is the shapely young lady who decided to exercise for 15 minutes on the platform with her special Hula Hoop. Most of the men were fascinated and for some reason there was always a railway official standing close to her at all times, no idea why. By the way, she came from the forbidden rear carriage.
My purpose was to get to the rear end of the train to photo the green train with the red star at the front, but had to walk to the end of the platform and beyond it. There was some commotion over the station loudspeaker but don't think it was for me?
Last photo is the travel worn author standing beside our car, it has the entire route map of the Trans Siberian Express across the carriage side.
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Helena our Prov with her helper, they were inseparable for 3 or 4 days. The helper had the important job of carrying the conductor's flags
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We're all called back to the train, much movement inside our car as people stow luggage and find their spot. We find Ruth sitting alone in the car, Artur has gone. He had said goodbye to Ruth but none of us had expected he was leaving, such is train life here in Russia. So we three have more space again, but wonder if there will be any further new room mates with just under 2 days to go?
Out of the window the snow has almost gone yet just a week before it had been the coldest area on the entire Trans Sib route, suppose this is extreme continental climate in action.
Made an arrangement with Helena to use an empty compartment this evening so I could write and read into the night after the car settles down. Rosie and Ruth are early risers and I am not, it's not fair on them if I keep my bunk light on. So Helena has helped by letting me use an empty compartment she has prepared for upcoming passengers, she has been so good to all of us in the car.
Our next major stop is Chita, we hear there's a large military base there where the Colonel and Majors will leave us at around 01:00 tomorrow morning. It has been good having them on the train as there was always a smile even though they mainly kept themselves to themselves. Rosie and I had brought a 3 Litre wine box from France, it is a strong Syrah from the Rhone valley, a nice Chateauneuf du Pape. We decided to give this to these officers as they obviously enjoyed being sociable within their obvious constraints, so late afternoon it was presented to them. They asked if we would drink it with them but declined, told them it was a British tradition not to drink any wine given as a gift. An hour or so later Rosie pops along to offer a little dark chocolate to go with the wine, but they roar with laughter shaking the empty wine box.
That evening get off at Khilok for a few minutes, there is nothing to see and the air is very very cold. Laugh some more with the Military and wish them well, they leave the train in a few hours at Chita. Before we re-enter the train I try to ask for the Russian word for the number one, fast as you like they say "Putin" at which we all roar with laughter.
Rosie and Ruth decide to sleep, I move notebook, book and reading glasses down to the next compartment but one, we are all happy. The book is Philip Roth's ' The Plot Against America '. Never read anything by Mr Roth before but am enamoured by his writing style, and completely taken aback as to how some aspects described in the early sections of this book - written about 15 years previously - appear to be a handbook for the Trump campaign, huge co-incidence. After reading further it comes across as a love story between a close knit family with all the highs and lows many families experience.
Settle down for a quiet evening, then Helena pops her head in to ask if I'm ok. Now a whole compartment to myself, this is another new aspect of train life for me.
Edited by v v, 19 March 2017 - 04:18 AM.