Friday, July 16, 2010
Clak-Clak, Clak-Clak, Tak, Screech, Slam, “Chai, Kofe, Chai, Kofe”…these sounds both haunt my dreams and rock me to sleep.
81 hour train ride from Moscow to Alma-Ata, it’s an incredible adventure and a quintessential Russian experience. That's 4 nights and 3 days stuck in a cubbyhole.
You probably have some basic questions - some I've answered below.
The main question though - Why do I do this to myself? Sorry, I have absolutely no answer to that.
1) What do you eat? Lots and LOTS of ramen noodles ($0.30 a package). In the train there is a samovar with a continuous supply of boiling water. Which means lots of porridge, tea and noodles, there is also cardboard crackers and that miraculous Laughing Cow cheese that never goes bad. And, chocolate (obviously). Did you know that Mars bars don’t melt? One of the more important discoveries in a traveler’s life.
B) What in the HELL do you do with your time? Write a blog, for one. Read, eat, pretend to speak Russian to your cabin mates and stare at the endless expanse that is the Central Asian countryside. I’ve been pondering life a lot. Where I am in my life and how I got here. So far, my conclusions are pretty simple – I love the life I have created for myself and I love all of those reading this (unless someone strange that I have never met is reading this – then – “Go away weirdo”).
Third) How do you wash? In short – you get creative or just sit in your stench for 4 straight days. A sponge bath can do the trick or wash with a small Tupperware container as a bucket shower. I have become a ninja master at putting-on-underwear-in-wet-shoes-balancing-on-one-foot-in-moving-train. I also have trained my nose to no longer smell BO. Mine, or others.
4) Is it comfortable? Yes, sort of. You pretty much get an entire bed to yourself the whole time. The upper bunks are more private but you don’t get a view, the lower bunks have a table for eating etc but the upper bunk people often want to just sit with you on your bed. You get linens, pillows and a towel and everyone knows the drill so you just hunker down and smile when you get stressed.
And my new lesson I learnt this trip – VALIUM. I haven’t needed one yet but there is a certain comfort in knowing that I have 15 of them (for $5 in Ulaanbataar). You just never know when I’ll go insane in this cage of a train or that ‘clak-clak’ finally snaps me.