Too long on a train

Our longest train journey of our whole trip across Russia was set to be from Perm to Krasnoyarsk and a whopping 46 hours. We cut this short by 1.5 hours by boarding at Kungur. Still such a long time on the train was going to be a little challenging. We prepared well buying a large variety of food to cover the 6 meals we would need whilst on the train. There is a small shop on board and the opportunity to get off and buy food when the train stops but after looking at the timetable, we realised most of these stops would be in the middle of the night. It’s likely that only smokers get off at 2am to satisfy their habits.

Our train was on time and a slightly newer one than the previous 2 trains. Instead of brown the beds were blue which made for a slighlty nicer colour scheme. The train was pretty lively and all along one side was a group of young girls who spent most of the afternoon playing games and passing notes along the train. Our bay was just us and two of the girls so we both sat by the window until sunset. The views were better than before as the train made its way along a river valley. Once the sun went down we made our beds and settled down to watch a film.

Thankfully the group of school girls left the train at Yekaterinberg and we got alot of new neighbours. Opposite us a young couple with a 10 month old baby moved in. And to the other side an American man and a Russian lady. All of them were very friendly and we soon discovered (with the help of google translate), that the couple were going to Kazakhstan to see his family. Our American neighbour had missed his original train and sadly only been able to make it onto a third class carriage on our train; probably not how he wanted his first Russian train journey to go. Before bed Matthias chatted to the American-Russian couple who thought he was in his early twenties.

The next morning Matthias woke up early and discovered that it’s possible to charge electrical items next to the Provodnistas office. With the phone fully charged he returned to his seat and found Zoë was finally awake at 10am (sleeping with earplugs is the way forward). Breakfast was some surprisingly yummy instant porridge with pieces of dried apple and cherry and more tea. Then we got comfy for the rest of the day on the train and a lot more passing trees. Our neighbours all left at Omsk and were replaced by three Russian men. For the first time we were a little less easy, but once we got out our lunch and shared some of our food things were more relaxed. We are sure the vodka and whiskey they were sipping continually was helping too. We had expected people drinking on the trains but surprisingly these men were always sipping secretly while one of the others kept watch. Maybe the recent changes to alcohol laws and the classification of beer as an alcoholic beverage (only in 2011!) have made drinking less acceptable. Come to think of it even people drinking on the streets always concealed their alcohol in brown paper bags. Despite this Russia still has a large problem with alcohol abuse, especially in young men. Matthias earned a few shots of Vodka by fixing Viktor the construction workers new tablet and as a bonus we got a chocopie (a Russian Tunnock’s teacake).

The hours dragged on through the night but we both made it to the morning having had enough rest. Finally, it was the day we were going to get off the train and away from our latest train mates. The men weren’t too bad really but Viktor’s music and the sweaty man smell was starting to get a bit much. We were really looking forward to getting off the train and out into the fresh air. Our train pulled into Krasnoyarsk on time and we said goodbye to the Russian men. As we walked along to the end of our carriage we noticed that during the night they had added another carriage. This carriage was a little different with bars on the windows and windows that opened. It was full of people peering out of the windows. We are pretty sure our train had been pulling along a prison on rails. We definitely didn’t read about that in the guidebooks.

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