This was the longest leg of our entire train journey, lasting over 48 hours. I splurged on first class for this leg, in order to have the comfort of privacy. We took train #1, the Rossijia. When I was booking tickets, not all the trains had first class. We stayed in Irkutsk for an extra day to be able to catch this train.
The only advantage of first class is the lack of top bunks, which makes quite the difference to have two fewer human bodies when in such a confined space.
Unlike the train that we took between Beijing and Ulaanbaatar, this first class doesn’t have an ensuite bathroom, which wasn’t too much of a hindrance. We learned quickly that you don’t need a shower everyday, especially when the most activity conducted is walking up and down the train carts, and the occasional platform strolls.
Time passed surprisingly quickly. We listened to podcasts together on our portable bluetooth speaker. Being able to listen to music and podcasts without headphones was one of the biggest advantages of having a private compartment.
When Xav needed to some quiet time, then I edited photos, read books on my Kindle, and wrote blog posts. The uninterrupted time to catch up on life has been my favourite part of train travel. That, and of course the incredible scenery that reveals itself along the way.
This 48-hour train ride moved us from Siberia into the edge of European Russia. The landscape is still a sea of luscious green, but the architecture evolved from wooden houses into more stone structures. The train stations also become more modern. It’s clear that resources don’t quite stretch evenly all the way into Siberia.
There is something incredibly meditative about train rides. The ever-changing scenery keeps you present in the moment. During these journeys, I often sit idle and watch the world pass. I count my blessings as we watch the sun set over that expansive Russian plains, for the opportunity to experience this unique journey, and have a partner with him to share this experience.
I felt slightly wistful to say goodby to our cozy cabin at the end of the 48 hours, but was equally glad to finally utilise my two legs again, and to stop eating cheese, dry sausages, and packs of peanut M&Ms & Lay’s potato chips (globalisation game is strong).