Day 22: China Railway from Moscow to Beijing (Trans-Siberian Day 4)

Blinis again to start the morning.

This time, I ordered the one with salmon caviar. It tasted really good, I would eat this over smoked salmon anytime. The price difference was also almost negligible. Not sure if the burnt marks are related to the filling though.

Here’s Captain Mongolia in the morning with his K-Pop dance moves.

His “sister” started whining so he unwillingly let “her” wear his sunglasses.

After a chat with their father, we learnt that Captain Mongolia’s “sister” is actually his brother. In Mongolia, it is a tradition that they do not cut the baby’s hair until he or she turns 2. A ceremony is then held within the family for this first haircut. If you are visiting Mongolia, do take note and don’t address every single baby as a “she” – ask their parents first!

Also, he’s called Captain Mongolia because we were trying to figure out Marvel superheroes that he was describing, and we got to a character we didn’t know – Shazam. So we spent the past 3 days figuring out who Shazam is, and with the weak internet signals, it didn’t help. So we were thinking if he could be just trying to fool around, and we gave him his superhero name of Captain Mongolia.

We figured out after we had better internet that Shazam is Captain Marvel. Not too far off from Captain Mongolia, eh.

More birch trees. If you ever need lots of photos for your Trans-Siberian trip, just take a few on the first day and copy and paste them randomly on each day. They look the same anyway.

More houses with birch trees.

The birch trees slowly disappearing from the scenery.

Time for lunch. Ordered the other set lunch today.

The tomato and cucumber salad, staying true to its namesake.

Rye, again.

Borscht with sour cream.

Escalopes (pork) with rice.

Hot tea.

As I was heading back to my compartment, an attendant from the coach in between the restaurant car and mine decided to have a short chat with me, since I’m the only Chinese-speaking passenger on board.

Fun fact: There are no local Chinese on board the train in Russia aside from the train crew.

The short chat turned out to last for 2 whole hours. We talked about a bunch of things including how is Singapore like, was it my first time in China, Apple vs. Android and if I have watched the whole series of Descendants of the Sun. Apparently all the staff on this train use a form of iPhone, and some even have iPads with them. It’s not company-sponsored either. Also, most of them have some episodes of Descendants of the Sun to watch while they’re between stations, so don’t freak out if you hear gunshots or a woman crying in Korean from the next compartment. When I asked some staff why all of them use Apple instead of their cheaper local product, for example, Xiaomi, like me, they all said to me “小米很烂” (Xiaomi is terrible). Great morale booster, guys.

Some serious things you may wish to prepare yourself for the journey if you speak Chinese, and totally I did not expect this beforehand:

  • Update yourself on your country’s political situation between China and Taiwan.
  • Understand the medical approaches in your country’s hospital, especially those related to TCM.
  • Understand the education system in your country.

These three points seem to be the strangest travel conversations ever, but it is the common questions I had in all my 3 trips with China Railway. I will update the details of it in the posts before Vietnam.

If you need my answer to the question on DOTS, yes I have.

After the chat, I had a compartment unlocked for proper photos of it, so here’s exactly how the compartment is laid out. Here’s the total space in the day for up to 4 passengers.

The seat/berth for the passenger on the lower bunk.

The total space as seen from the corridor.

A circulating fan is provided in the compartment. Some are noisier than others, depending on your luck.

It’s operated by the switch located on the bottom left berth.

There is a knob to operate the volume of announcements apparently, but there isn’t a single speaker in the coach. So just ignore this, or you can just treat it with amusement as a conversation starter.

The switches beside the door operate the lights in the compartment. There are two types, the bright fluorescent lamp and the darker warm light. Not sure what the red button does though, I’ve pressed it and there’s no effect on anything and anyone.

A fold-up ladder is attached to the wall to climb up to the upper berth…

… which looks like this when in use.

With the passengers on the lower bunk taking up the box on the bottom berth as mentioned previously, the upper berth passengers can put their belongings in the recess in the upper bunk, which is actually above the corridor.

The corridor of the Hard Sleeper coaches.

Of course, a pillow, blanket and all necessary bedding are provided for the trip, including an additional sheet to place on top of the blue lining when you sleep. You don’t have to prepare anything extra unless you have your favourite travel items that you wish to use.

Meanwhile, here’s how the people in the higher classes live.

The corridor of the Soft Sleepers. They are laid out similar to the Hard Sleepers, with a slightly thicker mattress and slightly more space between the two facing berths as there is one less compartment in the coach as compared to the Hard Sleepers.

The corridor of the Luxury Soft Sleepers. These come with attached bathrooms, a one-seater sofa and power sockets in each compartment. Each compartment sleeps 2 persons.

I don’t have any interior photos because they are all locked when unoccupied, or unlocked and open but occupied, which makes it an invasion of privacy if I just snap into the compartment. The attendants on these higher class coaches are also not as friendly as the ones in Hard Sleeper.

Having spent enough money on the restaurant car, and no way will I eat there for dinner again, I started to touch on my instant noodle ration I prepared in Moscow. I got the Sprite and fried noodle-looking thing from the station kiosk.

It turned out to be picked carrots, or dare I call it, a picked carrot salad?

The last few sights of abundant birch as the view changes drastically from tomorrow.

Heading to sleep on the fourth night at 6 degrees in Nizhneudinsk.

Tomorrow will be an early and long day, to catch the train running around Lake Baikal after Irkutsk, and thereafter to exit Russia and enter Mongolia.


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