Trans-Mongolian Train Trip – NovosibirskWednesday, 24 July 2013
▲ On the long stretch (1842km) from Irkutsk to Novosibirsk there was plenty of time to gaze out the window and watch Siberian forest pass by. For much of that distance across Siberia there’s appear to be nothing to the north of the railway line. Novosibirisk is like a town on the coast, to the north the map just shows forest, emptiness. If you set out north would the road soon just peter out, disappear into the forest?
What is the business out there? We pass countless little villages and towns, all with wooden houses, often unpainted, dirt streets, vegetable patches. But what do they do for a living? There are endless open plains, but they’re not being farmed – no fields of wheat sweeping to the horizon. Nor is it pastureland, no great herds of cattle or sheep. Subsistence farming and money from families working in the cities Anya, our guide, tries to explain. The permafrost and short growing period restricts farming she says although you do see tractors with some regularity.
◄ We pass an hour on a vodka tasting exercise.
▼ I seemed to enjoy it!
◄ And outside on the main square an impressively large Lenin statue, flanked on one side by these two people ‘directing traffic’ according to the Lonely Planet Trans-Siberia guidebook.
▲ As the train pulled out from Novosibirsk and we started on the next long stretch to Yekaterinburg we could see this Ob River beach, packed with sunbathers enjoying the heat of the brief Siberian summer.