My name is Judy, and I traveled from Munich to Hong Kong on land by train.
16 days, 13 000 kilometres, 204 hours on the train
60L duffel, 10L daypack, 2 books, 1 (35mm) lens
Languages spoken: English, German, Cantonese with minimal Mandarin
Why? To see what I have been flying over when I go home. The transition between Europe and Asia. What does Asia look like? To learn about Russia and its Siberian plains, to see the different faces on the people that I meet as I move further and further east, to see the deserts of Mongolia, and make a cross-section through China. To take my time on a journey, make friends without a common spoken language, to eat something new, and to expand the world that I know.
I did this journey alone. I enjoyed the solitude and the freedom to explore. At the same time, I found new appreciation for my partner, who I am lucky to have to share many adventures with.
Every morning of this trip, I woke up to see the sunrise, beyond the wooden houses, the taiga, the grasslands, the Siberian plains, Lake Baikal, the empty desert, and the mountain ranges. Some days I spent the entire day and night on the train, alighting at stops in between to stretch out, meet the vendors, and breath in the local air before embarking again to travel further.
My experiences at the stops that I made are posted in separate posts. Here is a list of practicalities for a long train journey:
1. Always greet the people that you share your cabin with
2. Bed-making, and rolling it up during the day if you are on the lower bunk
3. Bring water and food to share
4. Don’t bother counting the trees, houses, or oil tankers that you will pass
5. Smile and be nice to the train attendent (their job is to take care of your wagon)
6. Hot water boiler for coffee, tea, and soups (& washing afterwards), bring a mug!
7. Take the lower bunk, you can lock your bags by sleeping on them, and you are not at the mercy of the lower-bunker during the day
8. Platskartny, 3rd class train, between Yekaterinberg/Omsk to Siberia is not the best idea if you are a single girl traveling alone (p.m. me for the reason)
9. Toilets are essentially holes in the undercarriage of trains, that is why they are locked near each station
10. Charging phones and other electronics on the train is possible
11. Optimal number of occupants is a tradeoff between safety in numbers and plain too crowded
12. Communication to and travel support from home-base/headquarters is really nice
13. When buying a ticket, consider route/distance, time, price, class. It is an indication of the sort of people you will intimately share your space with.
14. Anyone taller than me (161cm) will have to bend into fetal position laying down on the bunks
15. Importantly, get rid of prejudices, to open and talk to people. You will be pleasantly surprised!