MA R C D IN K E L M A N N
the view from the
Marc Dinkelmann boards the Trans-Siberian Railway from Russia, through Mongolia and on to Beijing
There’s something romantic about traversing Russia on a train, whiling away the hours watching the forests of the Wild Taiga pass you by as the vintage juggernaut powerfully chugs through the night.
t had long been a dream of mine to catch the Trans-Siberian and then deviate through to Mongolia, and the excitement while boarding the first train in Moscow was goosebump-inducing— right from the moment of deciphering the Cyrillic departure boards, through to meeting my cabin mates. Leaving the Russian capital—an unbelievably vibrant and energetic city—
The Intrepid Explorer issue 16
and boarding your first train is an experience in itself. The trains are clean and maintained, but they hardly compare to the excess that is Moscow! Your provinista, the matron of your carriage, does an excellent job (in a strict, Russian fashion) of ensuring your abode is spotless and that passengers behave themselves. Not unlike a boarding-school headmistress. I got the impression there’s a bit of
unspoken competition between the provinistas as to who has the cleanest, most immaculate carriage; it’s quite something to see the lengths to which they go to make sure everything is in order. On the train, I got the rare opportunity to meet and interact with local travellers, and the occasional backpacker like myself. Invariably, this involved a bottle of vodka being cracked open, and the Russian