Wednesday, 9th October – Trans Siberian Train
“8am local time (somewhere between Moscow and Beijing), 6am Moscow time – the train will remain on Moscow time until we reach Beijing. This initially entertains me but is becoming increasingly confusing. I adjust my watch accordingly so as to ease myself in to changing time zones, and to arrive in China at a reasonable time of day. It makes for more complicated station stops though, assuming the train is running to schedule.
I’ve just realised the last entry was probably yesterday, so Tuesday not Monday, or Wednesday, possibly.
Early morning calm and more trees are yellowing or have lost their covering for the winter. A soft pink/peach filled the sky earlier but now it is a purple grey with smatterings of blue and white. The stark trees continue to line the tracks. The ‘bathroom’ is becoming increasingly fragrant. Ingenuity through necessity I’ve had a warm wash from the boiler this morning, taking great care not to drop anything on the floor.
The attendant has returned the creased, yellowed, slightly stiff netting to the lower parts of the windows, serving neither function or aesthetic. It is removed again as soon as she is out of sight, folded unceremoniously and stuffed through the elastic cord suspending it, so we can watch the travelling landscape.
The gentle swaying of the train and the noise as everything moves with it is vaguely calming. The temperature reads 27ºC above the door at the end of the corridor – it is very hot, we are not allowed to open the windows. We’ve tried, they are quickly closed again. Communication in this respect is clear and facial gestures and hand signals indicate that window opening is not approved of. I don’t know why. Perhaps to add to our discomfort. It feels punishing rather than comforting. Two more time changes are passed through and my watch is duly altered. I think that makes five, or six, and another night is spent on a train. I’ve relinquished myself to the journey and its time frame. The one thing that is certain is that the train will ultimately arrive in China. Everything else is frivolous detail.
For the wilderness, there is great activity on the railway. Lines are busy, long freight trains take forever to pass, blocking light for many minutes at a time.”