Yes, we did it, the beautiful Trans- Mongolian express. Starting in the oh so cold Moscow and going all the way to the warm and sunny Beijing. In Moscow, we booked the cheapest Airbnb we could find, because we want to travel on a budget so that we can travel for a long time. But yes, you get what you pay for! A shitty, not clean, insects everywhere and a big mess apartment. It looked like the lady left everything behind in a hurry. When we opened the fridge, there was a lot of food moldy. And there was a cockroach in the fridge!! But after all, we had a great stay in Moscow with some really cold and cozy days.
The day before the departure with the train, we went for extra food and drinks. The trip from Moscow to Irkutsk takes five days!! And as the food in the train isn’t very good, we wanted to buy some more. Oh, and Jai bought me a present for on the train, he bought me five “droge worsten” (dried sausages). Mmmm my favorite!! We ate them all and it didn’t take a long time, haha. The train stops a couple of times a day. You can go out for a fresh breathe and there are local women selling food and souvenirs.
The Russian train coupé was quite nice and comfortable. They have two lower beds and two higher beds, you share it with 4 people. When we ‘checked in’ the Provodnik gave us fresh bed sheets and a towel. During the five days on the train, we met some interesting people. It’s funny because most of the people travel the same way as we did but then for work or to visit their families on the other side of Russia, and after a couple of days, you start to know these people better and better. We shared our coupé with a guy from Tadzjikistan. He works and lives in Moscow. This man had to go to Perm to receive just one paper. That’s about 1442 kilometers!! Something we can hardly understand in The Netherlands. Most Russians are used to it and have no problem with traveling for as long. We had a nice time with him and he told us a lot about his life and life in Russia. However, the communication was a bit difficult sometimes. We had no internet connection so no google translate. I speak Polish, that was very helpful. The Russians don’t speak English or just a few words.
After five beautiful days, we arrived in Irkutsk. You may think that five days in the train is boring, but it was not!! The landscapes are so beautiful, you meet a lot of people, you read a book, listen to some music and BOOOM the five days are gone.
In Irkutsk we stayed for a few nights in an Airbnb. Then we went to Listvyanka. It’s a very small village in southern Siberia, but the most important thing is, that it’s right next to the Baikal Lake. The largest freshwater lake in the world with a volume of 23,615.39 km3 and a maximum depth of 1,642 m. When we arrived the lake was partly frozen. Unfortunately, we couldn’t walk on the lake. As the village is very small and not that much to do, we stayed only two days and went back to Irkutsk. We would love to come back in wintertime! The lake is then completely frozen. They drive by car and horse to go to the other side of the lake. That must be special to experience! The ice of the frozen Lake Baikal is unique as it is absolutely see-through and when you are walking on it you can see several meters down.
After a couple of days in Irkutsk, we had to take the train again for three days to Mongolia, Ulaanbator. But more about that in the next post.
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From Russia with love x