It was not the first time I took the Transsiberian for many hours, but this time it was going to be a 3 days trip across Siberia! I wouldn't leave the train until Komsomolsk-na-Amure, another sovietic city at Amur river, in the far-east Russia, a little bit before the Pacific ocean.
The life on board is so special, we don't know this in France! People get on the train, they take off their daily clothes to put on sportswear or a pyjama, slippers, and they sit on their bed as they sit at home. Reading a magazine, texting on their phone, chatting or playing cards with their neighbours. And time goes slowly – there are no hours anymore. We cross many time zones and the clock always indicates Moscow time, which is obsolete here in Siberia. We just follow the rhythm of the sun, counting stops on the different stations. My favourite activity was sitting by the window and just watching. Landscapes are amazing: huge forests, lakes, rivers, wooden villages, sovietic cities in concrete... Day by day, I was learning some Russian vocabulary with my book. Evgueny taught me the names of the trees: beryoza, kedr, sosna, listvennitsa…
The train itself is a microcosm: there are children, teenagers, adults of all ages, and old people. Some of my neighbours wanted to talk to me, but at some point I couldn't understand them. We could exchange basic phrases, I would introduce myself, but that was all. Most of the time I was the only foreigner there. People were surprised to see a young French lady travelling alone so far into the wild! I explained how I like travelling, meeting people, discovering cultures... And even if we couldn't exchange that much, we always shared a piece of bread, some ham, cheese, cookies, pickles or chocolate. Everybody travels with a big bag of food. You can't really cook in the wagon, but there is free hot water all day and night long.
The provodnik or provodnitsa (female) always takes care of the passengers. They make sure that we have linens and are registered, they sell some tea, sweet snacks or crackers, and they know how exactly to react if someone is drunk! Like a mummy, she would yell at a man and throw his bottle away.
I like the slow pace of the time on the train, I could read for hours, listen to my podcasts, write and observe people around. The further I got, the more people would have an asiatic face: we were going deeper and deeper into Siberia.