Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Whether described with a wide range of factual superlatives, or with subjective (though deeply intuitive) adjectives, Lake Baikal is undoubtedly one of the most impressive sights in Russia. It certainly validated its place on my must see list for the country. I wasn't able to spend nearly enough time here. Hopefully in the future.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
Now there are most likely an inexhaustible number of ways to make this journey (aside from the TS), such as designing, constructing, and riding on your own underground railroad, spanning the entire girth of the largest country in the world (just one example), which is obviously a completely insane and insurmountable task - unless of course you are able enlist the help of the Siberian MoleMen, but their distrust of outsiders, along with their all round bad attitude, and penchant for drinking large amounts of vodka while working, make this highly unlikely - but the way I shall describe is actually quite simple.
All one has to do is travel North for 35 hours*, stop in Komsomolsk, hook up with the BAM railway, head west for just under 70 hours, stop at the north end of Lake Baikal**, and then, after hooking back up with the TS, which paralleled your journey on the BAM to the south, it is simply another 90 hours to Moscow.
Oh, yeah - Komsomolsk. Very interesting city near the eastern terminus of the BAM, especially considering there's not really anything to do there. Really nice to just walk around, check out the Soviet era architecture and people and murals and monuments, or maybe just relax and have a cold beverage and some tongue salad. Oh, and its on a river too; that's kinda cool.
* All times given are relative, not according to Lorentz equations, but rather the whim of an entire country.
** One certainly doesn't have to stop here but come on, the world's deepest lake, really?
Next stop - Lake Baikal
Hour 0 - Vladivostok train station
Hour 1 - Grumpy passengers
Hour 2 - Some trees
Hour 3 - More trees (same type)
Hour 4 - More trees (a few of a new type); small town (no people, just logs of wood, millions of logs)
Hour 5 - More trees (same mix); some mountains in the distance; not-so-grumpy passengers (sleeping), but some unruly ones (drunk)
Hour 6 - Sunset over grasslands with trees in the background (quite nice); a small river
Hours 7 to 15 - Darkness (maybe a town or two, but only one of a large enough size to have anything resembling lights, but you'll be asleep and miss it)
Hours 15 to 34 - More trees, some small mountains waaaay off on the horizon, some areas without trees (grass), a couple of small rivers, more drunk passengers, another train going the opposite way (it won't stop for you, so don't bother)
Hour 35 - Komsomolsk!
Feel free to let's us know if you have any questions. Enjoy.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
It probably also wouldn't feel quite right if the bedding you're given isn't covered in dirt and other people's hair and an assortment of creatures that would take a trained entomologist a week to classify in entirety, but that's why you travel in the first place, remember?
And, of course, the bathroom has to be right next to this room, wafting in the glorious odors of excremental products, which just happens to blend perfectly, in a symphony of cross-sensual magic, with the Korean man who YELLS ever single thing he says - and always has something to say.
But then, as soon as you have begun to get used to the endless rocking - back and forth, back and forth - of the ship, started to think of yelling-Korean-guy as slightly endearing, and stopped noticing the noxious mixture of various chemicals (human-based and artificial) ever present in the air, it's over.
You've made it to Russia. But you're not in Vladivostok yet, first you need to take a bus for five hours to get there, and then get dropped off at the bus station, and not have any idea where the center of town is, or know how to ask; oh, and you have no rubles with which to pay for anything.
All you want is a decent hotel room and a nice shower. Of course you know that Vladivostok has water issues, and there won't be any running water for the next couple days, right? Its ok though, there are buckets of water outside the rooms you can use, compliments of the hotel.
Time to use your limited Russian vocabulary (consisting almost entirely of words picked from A Clockwork Orange) and move on.
Friday, October 1, 2010
For the time being, I shall switch to shorter posts briefly describing the intended journey from Vladivostok to Moscow by rail. There should be a couple of points of interest along the way, and, if nothing else, this will give me something to do to prevent dying of boredom.
- The Fool