A Broad, Flat Siberian Vista

Nicholas Quirke was still feeling excited to be waking on a train on 23 January 2020 and pushed open the blind to see the white world he was now familiar with. Having crossed several time zones and now in Siberia he was completely confused as to what time it’s actually was, particularly as Qifang had pressured him into keeping his watch on Moscow time to read the time table of stops. He discovered that the toilet in the next carriage was a better equipped affair with a toilet brush and Paper! Though it was 10am when he woke, they had lost another hour, it was a couple of hours before his neighbours surfaced. He  breakfasted on noodles. Once again the day passed recording and looking at what was now, fairly featureless scenery. It was not without its fascinations but apart from glimpses of towns, villages, the occasional home in a desolate landscape , stations, pylons and telegraph poles the straight flat line taking them across Siberia through a broad flat vista did not have the majesty of some of the scenery that had bought him here. He was surprised to to see how the flora had adapted itself to the cold and he saw swathes of brown grass, bravely rising through the snow like muddy lakes. Clumps of woodland, of white, leafless, brittle trees, appearing to be stripped of bark and seemingly so fragile that some were bent and broken by the weight of the snow. The stations they stopped at, Ishim, Balabinsk, Novosibinsk were large cities, not at all the small outposts of a vast wilderness he had expected and he was able to buy water and the occasional treat; at Ishim Nicholas thought he was buying a packet of liquorice but it turned out to be some black seeds. Surprisingly tasty. At Balabinsk it was actually snowing and he got out to play. Despite having no WiFi, he was still using his IPad to work on but discovered that the power on the train was not enough to charge it. With his battery at 20% he started to worry that he would not survive the next 3 days of writing and editing and filmmaking. Lyusaku had the same problem so they dined together again in the restaurant car, in the hope that the Russian car might have more power. They solved the problem by charging a power pack and then draining that which meant about each charge gave an extra 15%, which was enough to keep him going. He ate a`Vegetable Borscht and a vegetable rice then retired to his cabin to relax and listen to music, accompanied by the sound of the train groaning and moaning its way along the icy, snowy tracks. It was customary in their carriage to leave the doors to the compartments open, and if anyone passed by you could talk to them, and they could talk to you. As Nicholas lay there on display to passers by, he suddenly thought of them all like the Amsterdam prostitutes,  sitting in their windows waiting for customers to come and beckon them in. He lay daydreaming like that till their 1am stop at the impressive Novosibinsk Station. A new passenger joined the carriage, taking the room next to him, though once on board, she did not emerge or say hello to anyone.  Nicholas ended his day by finishing reading ‘At the Gai-Moulin’ before going to sleep on his increasingly uncomfortable bed. When questioning the standard of the trains, he learned from the Chinese Guards that the agreement with the Russian Government to run the trains did not allow them to have their more modern carriages. Suddenly,  a fact he was grateful for, the journey seemed immeasurably more authentic for that fact alone. It was with that thought he slipped into slumber.  


  1. Cor blimey! Proper remote and chilly. Most exciting to see this Nick. Have you mastered the Cyrillic alphabet consonants so you can say stuff but not understand it! ? I found that very entertaining….

  2. This is very exciting, what a train journey! I am loving this Odyssey, feels like a much bigger adventure than the last one xxx

Leave a Reply