20.09.2015 - 17.09.2015
It's an early 4am arrival in Moscow. We just pulled up stumps in our Hostel. Current time approximately 5:30.
It would appear we just endured a mammoth stint of about 117hrs on the train. Currently this time is been vigoursly debated, as there were portions of time travel, multiple time zone changes........and as we have just survived what felt like a prison sentence, finally, a few strands of straw are about to break our collective camels back. However, the friendly staff have just thrown on a bit of movie. That old standby, pretty much a universally agreed upon absolute corker, The Shawshank Redemption. Good morning Tim Robbins.
Our local contact will be back at 10am. There was a lot of talk on board the old rattling bird cage of hitting the showers and freshening up. It would appear the motivation, along with most other emotions and feelings have dissipated during the long ride to freedom. Personally I am a shell of my former self. At one stage, I think I was awake for about 17hrs straight and had about 8hrs broken sleep in a 36hr period. I cannot be sure. Looking out the window at the almost constant passing of Birch trees, in various states of tree like behaviour, some straight, others less straight, the occasional yellow, red and green hued foliage, was like looking out of a window that revealed reality but with that strange twist of otherness. In short, it was a definite portal. Emma and I woke early one morning, hungover and essentially stream of consciousness thoughts spewed forth in a diarrhoetic diatribe for a few hours. We passed through the looking glass.
We passed through Siberia, snow drifts were gently falling to their final resting place as we barrelled along in our tin can. Birch trees made an appearance, not for the last time, in fact if I see another Birch, chances are I will don a flannel top and start chopping it done. Siberia gave way to the Uralls at some stage. Birch again. We had a series of long stops, which were greeted with a sense of well deserved freedom. The little things become a source of nourishment. To walk in a straight line that doesn't sway constantly is a divine experience. Every meal was stretched out in the longest possible way, to eat away those long minutes, preparation of them was a dramatic stage play. The art of making satchet coffee was perfected. All the time Birch trees looked on. Passive, immutable, constant.
Small towns scattered along the line were made of wood and assembled in a rickity manner not seen since Hansel and Gretel went a wondering. Abandoned factories and remmenants of industrie would arise on the horizon like extraterestial giants. Power plants. Watchtowers. The occasional Birch every 20cm. The sky was big. Glorious sunsets seemed to stretched over vast unbroken tracts of Birch. Mornings were frosty. But the day warmed quickly. It seemed Russian have a phobia to cool air. The train cabins were constantly deprived of fresh air, as the attendants and other berth occupants would close the windows whenever we opened them. They clearly preferred stuffy, smelly, stale strongly malodorous stagnant air. It was a veritable sauna on wheels.
Hence the Redemption is lifting our spirits. Popcorn has just been delivered.
Well I'm done. A shower beckons. So does Mr Dufresne. Moscow sights today. Probably an Irish Pub this evening to watch the All Blacks. At one stage I was donned in All Blacks gear, the train did weird things to us all. Next post I may get back to Mongolia, or Lake Baikal, but probably not.
Birch. Thy name is hell.