Thursday, 30 October 2008

Yaroslavsky station and east

Yaroslavsky Station is a crazy art deco design from the early 1900's. Is is the main station for all points east, eg those banished to Siberia. The station was packed with people returning there of which many were traders with piles of baggage piled high around them. One can see the patient faces of many as they pass the hours away with stoically.

There are three Trans-Siberian routes. The north one goes to Vladivastok and is the longest at 9,300km and takes eight days. The central route goes through Manchuria and the shortest route id the southern one through Mongolia and ending at Beijing, which is the one i took. It is only 7,900 and takes just seven days.

Once on board i soon got to know the few other travellers making the trip. Nania, a book worm and art student from Vienna and the centre of all the action were the two lads from Ireland, Ken and Jimmie, with four bottles of best vodka and a selection of beers. They were the life, soul and centre of all activity. One beer of interest was 9.5% with an added energy drink in it as well. Jimmy said you could hear your heart pounding after imbibing it.

The feeling of this near endless travel is a bit like floating in a dream, all connections are severed, the villages and forests pass by silently, yet is is all so variable. There being no fences make you all feel very much part of the whole.

A particular oddity was that the railway runs on Moscow time, this is fine when close to Moscow, but when the evening meal for 6.00 p.m. is actually 11 p.m.

Various cities were passed through, all depressingly concrete, in contrast to the individuality of the wooden houses and gardens of the villages. Perm ar 1,500km was where the US U2 spy plane was shot down. 1,777km was the Europe-Asia obelisk set was in the Ural Mountains: a great divide. The point of no return for prisoners. Yekaterinberg/Sverdlovsk, where the Romanov family were murdered after the 1917 revolution. Sverdlov was the chap who arranged it all, in 1989, when things changed, denial set in by changing the city name.

The taiga up to this region is rich black soil and is full of minerals such as copper, platignum, silver, gold, nowthe soil supports little agriculture. Now the huge Siberian river seem to start. Much of the early trading was done on these rivers, which flow to the Arctic. These bridges are massive as they have to withstand packed ice and further east even ice bergs. Some are about 1km wide. The Ob crossed at Novosibirsk (New Siberia) is 4,500 long. The Yenisey River is 5,300km long and is crossed at Krasnoyarsk. (Gooogle them)>

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