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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.

Posted by kidd1200 20:31 Archived in Russia

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I think I know what I will buy you when you teturn home. A miniature birch tree in a pot for your balcony( that's if you have a bolcony) Then when you open your blinds you will be reminded of your train trip to Russia
The longest train trip I ever did was from Adelaide to Perth about 45 years ago. The only things I really remembered about that was my admiration of the dining staff and how they were able to serve meals on a rattling wavy moving train. The other thing was how it took several hours to regain my still land legs,
It sounds as if you are having a exciting and interesting beginning to your great adventure. The group you are travelling with sounds as if they are a good group
The only exciting thing that has happened here in Adelaide is the heavy hailstorm that deposited. It's load on your Dads place, water leaked in through the boxed gutter and some of the garden plants got damaged.
Politically there has been a bit of a shake up but by the time you get home it could be different again. The Crows lost their match against Hawthorn. So are not in the finals
Beautiful day here today even had to water the garden..
No more news . Continue to enjoy yourself and be safe. Love Cath

by Catherine Kidd

.. and the Colonel disappeared into the mists of time and birch.

by HighStreetX

I too speculated as to the whereabouts of the Colonel and wonder whether he is due for a promotion having now endured 117 hours of drunken shenanigans from a group of All Blacks who quote Lewis Carroll and stare at trees. Having said that, not a bad gig when you think about it...

by Brotherly Betula Pendula

The Colonel disembarked the train in the wee hours of the second morning. Having witnessed his stealth like acrobatic moves in manouvering his torso, purely with his arms onto the top berth, we were not altogether surprised to awake to an empty bed.
His story ended, but he will not be forgotten.
At one point on the trip a prison carriage was attached to the train. Early in the morning of the next day, they were escorted of their mobile jail and into the waiting Russian authorities. The canine unit on patrol was chomping at the bit. A slightly surreal experience.
PS. My spelling is pretty bad, even with editing performed by Karen. We are working on 'where' and 'were', 'there', 'their' and 'they're'. But, like the man eating prison dogs, I'm getting long in the tooth and new tricks are harder to pick up.

by kidd1200

You saw a man eating some prison dogs? Crikey, I didn't realise food rationing was having such an impact in central Russia.

by Brotherly Pedant

Write, so grammar needs some attention too!

by kidd1200

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