Trans-siberian adventures!! Vladivostok to Moscow!


Well after a surprisingly pleasant 16hr ferry from Korea to Russia, followed by a slightly less pleasant 5 hour bus ride to Vladivostok I finally made it (on time) to the trans-Siberian Eastern terminal!!
My first full day in Russia turned out to be Victory Day – a totally unplanned and welcome coincidence! Although waking up at 7am to drums below my window and tanks rolling through the street was slightly worrying until the locals explained what was going on! 20140519-102757.jpg20140519-102928.jpg20140519-103001.jpg20140519-102946.jpg
While personally it was a bit too much of a macho gun show for my taste, but I can’t deny that the Russian’s put on a good show. It seemed the whole city was out as well as everyone from every other city on the east coast! I didn’t stay out long, the police were directing people from one place to another – and given I had no idea what the hell they were barking on about I decided to stay well out of their way! The evening show was much more to my taste! Some lovely Russian girls from my hostel even escorted me!… Although I still say the fireworks at roundhay bonfire are better!
Vladivostok itself is a very Russian city, but deffinatly not metropolitan. Many of the buildings are in dire need of restoration and walking around isn’t exactly the safest of choices… Only because of the poor infrastructure! The “pavement” along the sea front doesn’t last long before it becomes a gravel path and on the other side of the road beach users simply walk along the railway! In the city centre I nearly managed to drop 5ft down a huge uncovered manhole, (even tho yes I’m sure I would of made it onto you’ve been framed) it turns out the pavement was full of these holes… Not exactly health and safety on the standards I’m used to! I’m just glad I wasn’t going down that street at night. It would of been like playing minesweeper! Although that being said I did come to quite like the city. It has a smattering of Russian architecture although finding them requires a bit of searching.
The city’s history and use as a naval port is hard to forget, even when the tanks have left. Battleships sit in the harbour and the city is scattered with war statues and tributes to the fallen.
When It came time to go for my train to Moscow while I was sad to see the back of this side of the world, the feeling was slightly eclipsed by the impending prospect of getting my bike on the train. I managed to get hold of the company previously who’d told me that the bike was free but it had to be in a box. Now my original plan had been to get a box in Vladivostok but given the apparent lack of bicycle shops, I failed on that account. My second failure arrived at the terminal which concluded in a last minute scramble in the ten minutes before the train was due to leave to find my ticket… Which for some reason I’d accidentally not printed out the night before. Sigh. Luckily this was sorted by a lovely English speaking bloke and afterward I managed to find a back entrance to the platforms so I didn’t take my bike through the sea of metal detectors and policemen which is Vladivostok station!
And so the fun begins. Dashing up to my carriage I was greeted angrily by the female conductor who seemed to take personal offence at the idea that I was going to try and bring my bike into HER carriage! After point blank refusing me, I nearly gave up hope. Luckily a Russian fella walking past seemed to bypass all she was saying (much to her annoyance) and told me to take the wheels off, then he picked up the frame and walked straight on! Ignoring her protests! I scuttled after him with my wheels and by the time we’d found somewhere to put it the train was moving! I guess a reasonable success, although I did spend the next 4 days getting evil eyes from her.
My carriage was the cheapest available and contained a hell of a lot of beds! To begin with the train was very quiet but as soon as our route merged with the other transiberian routes we were full!… The smell was impressive. There is little to avoid it when your stuck on a train for 7days with no showers and the only privacy is two TINY toilet cubicles. Still I am actually not complaining, I paid less than half of what most websites say tourists should expect and although my carriage buddies were mostly army men being transported and oil miners on their way home from Siberia I met some great people!
These fellas, all oil miners refused to leave me alone! (Once they realised I wasn’t American) they kept barraging me with questions about my bike then showing me pictures of their children, and once the beer came out I even got a couple of marriage proposals since they were so enamoured by my adventures! Haha, and then there was my bunk-buddie Demitry who I met while his sobbing girlfriend refused to take her arms off him until the conductor was shouting at her to get off the train! He was slightly embarrassed but got over it quickly haha!
Despite the company I still spent most of my time reading or staring out into the countryside – which looks suspiciously similar to the Yorkshire dales I might add! After a few days they all begin to blur together, passing through so many time zones Is endlessly confusing. I never seemed to know what time it was or if I should be tired or not! The only thing that seemed to mark our movements west was the station stops!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, haggling over the price of super-noodles with old Russian women is not my forte! Oh and that it is actually possible to live on noodles for a week! – I had little choice given my train didn’t even have a restaurant carriage, the price you pay for being cheap! Haha, good job I don’t mind roughing it! Coming into Moscow the train got hellishly busy, it was all I could do not to kick people off the end of my bed when I got tired and wanted sleep!
When my final night on the train did come I was deffinatly ready to arrive! And so 6 days later, 7 if you don’t include time zones, I arrived into Moscow! Let the fun begin in Russia’s biggest city’s, Moscow and St.petersburg!