A Travellerspoint blog

Episodes on the Rail

... of a 18.5 hours ride.

From Krasnoyarsk to Irkutsk,
July 29 - 30th 2014

A long railroad journey -- like 10 hours above -- never make me bored, as long as, I have something to do, or there are episodes, such as:

Lunchtime Storybook
After a long nap on the well-made bed with her daughter/granddaughter stretching legs over her tummy, she got up, and prepared what I'm not sure if it was lunch or dinner. To my tropical biological schedule, it was teatime. I mean, too late for lunch but too early for dinner. Who has lunch at 4:00 PM? Oh well. So the lunch consisted of a cup of instant noodles and slices of sausages. She was well prepared with plastic spoons, cups, and a big knife. If all Russians are like her, I wonder you know, if a Russian has the ability to travel light. In my previous post I told you how I was amazed by Russian passengers who exchange clothes into shorts, babydoll, or pajamas before going to bed.

A few minutes later when the noodles were cooked, the lady moved closer to the window and her daughter/granddaughter sat next to her. The lady shove the noodle cup to her daughter/granddaughter's side. As the little cute red-cheeked toddler called Dasha dipped her plastic fork into the noodles, her mom/grandma opened the pages of a book.

"Houskvousk rousk vousk." the mother/grandmother read.

"Nom... nom..." the daughter/granddaughter nibbled

"Houskvousk rousk vousk."

"Nom... nom..."

"Houskvousk rousk vousk."

"Nom... nom..."

And then the daughter/granddaughter would raise a question, the mom/grandma answer, daughter/granddaughter back to slurping, mom/grandma continues the story.

"Okay! Finished, Granny!"

Now daughter/granddaughter goes walking up and down the seat reciting some words from her lunchtime story book. Her mom/grandma occasionally shakes her head, correct the pronunciation -- intonation, I bet -- and little Dasha repeats after Mom/Grandma.


In the Middle of the Night
Oh my! Dasha is wearing another set of clothes, I thought to myself as they entered our cabin probably from the restroom. Dasha was wearing a thick coat and long pants, sort of the ones wore in winter. She climbed up the bed and rolled to the wall. And then her mom/grandma covered her with a blanket, curled next to her.

In silence I watched them while admiring Dasha. When I was a kid and traveled in a sleeping cart, I hated it when Mom who's my total opposite in terms of 'weather resistance', made me sleep like how Dasha's doing now. I hated the lack of space to stretch, spread, my legs. I hated the furry blanket over and under my thighs. While Mom felt cold, I wanted to enjoy the luxury of air conditioning which I didn't have at home. I remember myself getting upset, whining but in vain, until I got tired and fell asleep. Dasha wasn't at all like me. Good girl.

On night train rides, I never wake up in the middle of the night, unless there are noises like... Dasha crying.

Dasha: "Houskvousk rousk vousk."

Mom/Grandma: "Houskvousk rousk vousk."

So did I hear them back and forth. I felt annoyed. I made noises, hoping the mom/grandma would tell her daughter/granddaughter to stop whining because it was disturbing me.

My noise-making was pointless, But, after many more minutes, silence finally returned. I rolled my body back to find out what at last had happened.

Wow! There Dasha laid in the middle of the bed, arms legs wide stretched opened, wearing just a vest and a pair of shorts! Mom/Grandma sat at the end of the bed, leaning to the window, hugging her legs. Space has been taken.


Mom? Grandma? Lost in Translation
"Houskvousk rousk vousk. Houskvousk rousk vousk." I felt something on my upper arm. I opened my eyes.

"Houskvousk rousk vousk," she repeated.

In my mind I replied to her, "What is it now?? You have disturbed my sleep last night and now you wake me up while it is still dark!" It was 6:00 AM. According to my notes, we would arrive in Irkutsk at 8:08 AM. I struggled not to show an upset face.

Through her "Houskvousk rousk vousk." and gestures pointing to herself and Dasha, to the window, and then to the cabin door, I interpreted for myself: "Dasha and I are getting off soon."

In English, I wished her a pleasant journey afterwards, and all the nice things I could say.

Dasha's Mom/Grandma smiled back to whatever.

"Wait!" an alarm cried in my mind. "Aren't they going to Irkutsk? Is Irkutsk Station coming soon? There should be more than an hour left. Why have Dasha and her mom/grandma got dressed up, take out their belongings from the trunk under their seat as if ready to leave? Ah , maybe Dasha is getting off before Irkutsk."

I typed on the translator on my smartphone: "Are you getting off before Irkutsk?"

"Ha?! Ho?! Ha?!" The lady's eyes turned wide as she read the Russian translation on my smartphone.

I took back my smartphone, switched to Russian -> English, and turned the Russian keyboard on. I asked her to type her reply on my phone.

The next second, I felt sorry for asking her such a thing. Clearly she struggled typing on my phone. "Sash... ah... sash..." She tapped on a letter and then tapped backspace, again and again.

I got my smartphone back and was my turn to "Ha?! Ho?! Ha?!" reading the English translation. It said: "I'm going to Jerusalem."

"No, no!" I waved my palm signaling that that wasn't what I had meant.

"Ha?! Ho?! Ha?! Net?"

I put my left hand on the table. "Krasnoyarsk," I said. And then I put my right hand on the table. "Irkutsk," I said. I moved my right hand closer to my left hand. "You, get off here?"

"Ahhhh! Da! Da!"

"So you are getting off before Irkutsk?"

"Da! Da!"

"Phew. No wonder you both are all set," I commented in my mind.

I got up, walked to the restroom, washed my face, brushed my teeth... thinking Irkutsk was still far away. Back in my cabin, I untied my lunch plastic bag, taking out the rice box I bought in a supermarket in Krasnoyarsk. I looked through the window. I was like we were entering a city. Irkutsk??

I wrote on my notebook "8:08" and under it "Irkutsk". Next to it I put a question mark. I brought my notebook to the train conductress. She took a look and, "Irkutsk! Irkutsk! Da, da! Irkutsk!"

In my heart I heard, "She didn't pay attention to the '8:08'."

I went back to my rice box. It smelled rather sour, not like last night. "That's because people here don't use preservatives," I told myself. I reached for another box of beef. How about this? Hmmm... nice, but pretty hard. Chop, chop, chop...

Our train began to slow down. Slower and slower. I turned to Dasha's mom/grandma. "Irkutsk?"

Her face broaden as if she was hitting the finish line. "Da, da! Irkutsk! Da, da!"

"Is it Irkutsk here??!"

"Da, da! Irkutsk! Da, da!"

Remember the cabin interior I showed you in previous post? Now it cost me a couple of minutes to snatch my sweater, hairpin, water bottle, magazine, tissue pouch, etc., etc. from those hidden treasure cases and dumped them into my plastic bag. When I finally got to the door of the train, passengers were getting up.

"Ha?! Ho?! Ha?! Houskvousk rousk vousk." A guy had to step back down in order to give me way. "Houskvousk rousk vousk!"

And yet, instead of hurrying down, I stood above the steps and asked a lady who had just entered, "Is this Irkutsk?" She answered nothing.

I pulled my suitcase down the steps and walked to the train conductress, with a spoon in my hand.

"Excuse me. Yesterday I borrowed this from the dining cart. Can you return it for me please?"

"Ha?! Ho?! Ha?!" Her eyes widen.

"I'm so sorry." More than that, I thought it would be useless to explain how yesterday the kind waitress at the dining cart had lent me a spoon and I promised her to return it before arriving in Irkutsk.

The conductress nodded and trusted the spoon into her pocket.

Down there, was a young man holding up a piece of paper with my name written on it. Then this must be Irkutsk. No mistake.

"Let me carry your bag." Gently he carried my suitcase down and up the stairs.

My travel agent had told me beforehand that he would answer anything I would need to know. So, he must be speaking English well, I concluded. So... I spilled out to him,

"Phew! I thought the train arrives in Irkutsk at 8:08. I didn't know it was... it was 7:40, wasn't it just now?? I just grabbed everything and dumped them here into this plastic bag. Oh! I haven't combed my hair! I must look such a mess..."

He said not a word. Oh well.

In front of Irkutsk Railway Station we stood. Busy, kind of messy traffic. "So how do I catch the bus to Listvyanka from here?"


"I want to go to Listvyanka."

"Ah Listvyanka! You want to go to Listvyanka?"

"Right! I was told that I can ask you for directions."


"You speak English, don't you?"

"Juuust a little. Can you repeat your question just now?"


Posted by automidori 01:15 Archived in Russia Tagged train russia krasnoyarsk

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