Wednesday 24th February
Last night we boarded the train to Beijing at Moscow’s Yaroslavsky Station.
The rolling stock is Chinese apart from the restaurant car which is Russian and will be with us until the Mongolian border in a few days time.
The provodnitsas (carriage attendant) are Mongolian or Chinese and it is their job to escort you to your compartment and service the coal fired water heater (samovar). This provides continuous hot water for passengers to use in the making of hot drinks. The train, 04 to Peking, as it is still known here, is nearly empty.
The samovar is heated by the burning of local coal which is stored near the outer door ….
and acts as a barbecue for the provodnitsa’s cooking. Here is some bread our provodnitsa is preparing.
Leaving Moscow, on time, the snow was quite thick on the ground but upon awakening the birch forests had really high drifts and at times only the shiny steel of the railway tracks was visible. We have crossed forest and farmland and as we write a snowstorm is setting in as we travel through the darkness to the industrial city of Perm which is 2 hours ahead of Moscow time (5 hours ahead of GMT).
We ate lunch of sandwiches and borscht (a cabbage and beetroot soup) and this evening we had a simple meal of steak and fried potatoes washed down with some Baltic Russian beer. Delicious. A pity we were the only ones in the restaurant car. We question what others are eating other than oranges we can smell!!
Tonight we pass the border between Europe and Asia. We will try to be awake to witness this.