Saturday, November 22, 2008

Train from Ulaan Baatar to Irkusk

We were informed via promotional material for the Vodkatrain that the attendants would be a central part of our train journey. To this point, we've been scowled at, dismissively waved away, and I had a door slammed in my face when one old boot was trying to clean the peephole (into the freezing void between carriages -- not much of a view). Alex waged an ongoing war with one ... every time she passed, she drew the curtain and he stomped out and reopened it. Curtain war, October 30 2008 ... attendant 6, Alex 7.
The attendants are surly and dismissive, the customs officers are a whole now rank of unfriendly. We were lined up in the corridor in our pjs several times in the middle of the night while khaki clad minions in an array of different hats made a big show of poking around the cabin, knocking on walls and unmaking our beds.
This particular train was more old school than the Chinese ride: no personal tv or power points, and a savage draft blowing straight on our heads. We managed to stuff a spare blanket up the crack between the window and blind, with some effort, but when we'd finished it was suddenly apparent the musky funk in the room was coming from the blanket, and it smelled distinctly of human urine. 60ml of hand sanitiser later, we decided the death-wind was more hazardous than the piss-blanket, so muzzled with scarves, we slept. On the upside, we were able to keep some cheese cold by leaving it on the window ledge. 36 hours later, we arrived to a sleeting Siberian morning in Irkusk.

No comments: