We arrive in the city of Krasnoyarsk, 4098km from Moscow, and people are friendly! We visit Stolby national park and make friends with lovely people. But Krasnoyarsk, like every other city we pass on route, is as Soviet as ever. We are now as east as Mongolia, and it still feels like we’re in Europe, with the streets filled with European-looking inhabitants. I realise that I know nothing about Russia’s colonial history and the destruction of Siberia’s culture.
“It’s depressing to know that Europe stretches on and on and on, all the way to China,” Chris says.
I’m stuck in a hospital ward with 53 other people, all laying on pristine white sheets in the broad daylight, their bare feet sticking out of the ends of the beds. I am trapped. Trapped amongst their smells and snores and stares. The matron has locked the doors so that I can’t get out. I wonder if I will go insane here.
This hospital ward is also known as the Trans-Siberian Railway. We are travelling in 3rd class from Moscow and we’re on our first leg, travelling to a random Russian city called Omsk, 41 hours and 2716km from the Russian capital.
“I’d LOVE to do the Trans-Siberian!” was the response we got from absolutely everyone when we told them of our plans. People seem to have a romantic vision of this journey. Luckily I didn’t, or I would have been bitterly disappointed!
The alarm goes off at 4.45am. Urgh. We catch a train to London. It’s 6.30am in the morning and the trains are depressingly full. We’re on day one of our overland journey to China, using a mixture of hitchhiking, buses, and of course, the famous Trans-Siberian Railway.
Chris has sorted everything out for me – my train tickets and my visas. But first we need to get through France, Holland, Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
It feels like cheating when we get a coach to Berlin, and actually, it would have been quicker to hitchhike, what with the usual traffic jams on the Autobahn (why do the German motorways have a good reputation?!)