10 Baikal on Ilanskaya Station.
An uneventful day on the Trans-Siberian. I did get sick to my
stomach in the middle of the night. Perhaps motion sickness, since it seems
not to have been caused by anything I ate. By 0100, I managed to fall asleep
and woke up around 0800 local time. The train itself, and all the stations
along the line, keep Moscow time as a standard. The train made long stops
at Omsk, Mariinsk, Krasnoyarsk, and Ilanskaya. We got off at each one to
get some fresh air. There were vendors selling ice cream, beer, dried fish,
etc. etc. etc. as at the stations we had seen on other trains. Fresh air was
sometimes difficult to find because so many Russians smoke and cannot
seem to wait to get to the platform to light up. The Lonely Planet guidebook,
Trans-Siberian Railway, warns against taking photographs at Ilanskaya for
fear of getting arrested. I got some nice shots from the platform overpass of
our 10 “Baikal” train, and also of the nicely painted steam engine monument
by the old station.
I took a shower in one of the shower cabins. It cost eighty-four rubles.
It was a serviceable facility, but by no means a modern one such as the one
we had on the Transcantábrico in Spain a few years ago. This was more like
Boy Scout camp. Mind you, I am only reporting, and certainly mean not to
complain at all. It was very refreshing and I needed that after last night.
Some general observations: All the way from Moscow, the
countryside has varied little. Many country roads are unpaved and muddy.
It seemed like there were an awful lot of shack-like dwellings, whether made
of wood or the occasional one of crumbling concrete or cement. Things
seem costly, but I gather wages are not high. (Are they ever?) Inflation
seems to be a problem, and that was confirmed by one of the guides who
gave examples of increases in the prices of staples over the preceding year.
The whole place seems functional, but kind of ramshackle. Certainly not a
first-world sort of place.
Tomorrow we arrive at Irkutsk and go on to Lake Baikal. There are
only twelve hours left on the ride from Yekaterinberg and the whole trip has
gone by quickly. The friendly and cheerful companionship of the Australian
travelers has made it a fun time! It is still amazing to me that I am sitting in
a restaurant [PECTOPAH] car in the middle of Siberia drinking beer and
having a jolly time.