Training for Thailand: Leg 1

Jan. 27, 2013 Staff Blog
Contributors: David Bulmer

Part 1 - About the Trip
Part 2 - Every Journey Begins with a Single Step... or Cancelled Train

Well... so far so good. I'm in Moscow, the first real stop of my ~10,000 mile journey. It wasn't exactly all smooth sailing (training) but considering what could go wrong on an adventure like this, it worked out pretty well.

Training for Thailand
My first train... of many

As I reported in the blog the day before I left, my London-Brussels train got cancelled, which meant I had to head into London and hope I could catch an earlier one. Well I could, and I did, making it into Brussels early enough for another connection into Frankfurt. My philosophy when I've got multiple connections and multiple waits, is to get to the end destination as quick as possible and have the big wait there, rather than lots of smaller waits. As it turned out, my philosophy saved me a lot of nail-biting. It wasn't exactly a smooth transition between Brussels and Frankfurt, as it involved an extra two trains crossing the city itself and then onto Liege, but thankfully the ticket conductors seemed to think my pass was ok. In the end I arrived in Frankfurt 5hrs early, but if I'd waited around for the proper connection, I'd have arrived just 15mins before my Frankfurt-Moscow train departed and been extremely worried the entire journey.

My journey so far, roughly 2000 miles across 7 countries

So Frankfurt-Moscow... roughly 1500miles and 36hrs worth of travel, not exactly the definition of fun but a nice warm-up for the Trans-Siberian ahead. Arriving on-board I immediately saw the 3-bunk arrangement for the journey and with one guy already in there, it looked rather full. Thankfully no-one else joined us, so it was just me and this Polish dude who didn't speak a word of English. Now obviously, travelling around eastern Europe in winter, it's going to be cold, so I'm prepared for that but what I wasn't prepared for was the heating which made it an extremely uncomfortable 25C (77F) at night. That is faaar too hot for me to sleep in, especially on what was a pretty hard (think concrete) bed. Then, at around 8-9am, the heating seems to go off and the temps drop to around 10C (50F), so no lie-in for me.

Training for Thailand
Shotgun bottom!

The Polish dude got off in Warsaw so it was just me, myself and I in the cabin. I spent most of the day reading and drinking the different beer that the locals bring onto the train whenever it stops for a few mins. Because I was now the only person in the cabin, they left the bottom two bunks in "seat mode", meaning I had to sleep in the top bunk that night.

Training for Thailand
Polish beer and my cabin in "seat mode"

Now I'm a good 5' 7¾" (depending on how I do my hair) and I couldn't stretch out properly on this bunk, so I have no idea how the extremely tall people cope. But combined with the heat, I once again struggled to sleep.

Training for Thailand
Moscow!

Arriving in Moscow was a relief, although I was happy my visa didn't get checked at any stage (don't tell the KGB), however the GPS on my phone had decided it wasn't going to work, making my navigation slightly problematic... and the metro system isn't the easiest to understand, being as it's written in Cyrillic. Anyway, I did eventually make it to my hostel, lugging the 9800 up far too many steps in the process. Now it was time to explore...

Training for Thailand
It's fair chilly here

It is actually my second time in Russia's capital so I remember a little bit of stuff, but needless to say it's a cool (both figuratively and literally) place. As is my tradition, I went on a long 4+ hr walk to get a real feel for the place, seeing most of the sights in the city centre and just going for a good explore.

I'm in Moscow until Tuesday when I then depart on my 5 day train journey, so I have a little time to catch up on Oakland's SX before heading into the wilderness...

Training for Thailand
Me, about to leave

Training for Thailand
My travelling companion

Training for Thailand
I get the feeling I'm going to be seeing a lot of similar scenery

Training for Thailand
When in Frankfurt, eat Frankfurters

Training for Thailand
My Frankfurt-Moscow train

Training for Thailand
Red Square at night

Training for Thailand
St Basil's Cathedral

Training for Thailand
-8C is way too cold not to be wearing a glove