THE TRANS-SIBERIAN, AN INSIDE LOOK OF A MYTHICAL RAILWAY
Through this inside look, we hope to show you all the magic inside the mythical Trans-siberian. The thousands of kilometres that make up this railway are a chance to discover a fabulous mix of traditional landscapes, far-off cultures and vast tracts of land.
While, for many Russians, this railway track is still the cheapest way of travelling to certain remote parts of Siberia, for travellers the world over, the Trans-Siberian railway is much more than just a train line. Before you settle down in one of the carriages, next to Stanislas Giroux, medical student and an adventurer at heart, here’s a bit of history!
For centuries, well before the appearance of the Trans-Siberian railway, tradesmen (or rather adventurers!) travelled across Siberia to buy furs from the nomadic people who lived in these remote locations. It took very many months, travelling in slow commercial caravans, to cover this interminable distance. And it wasn’t unusual for some of the convoy to succumb to the extreme temperatures, lack of food, illnesses or attacks from wild animals.
In 1857, the idea emerged for a train that crossed from East to West Russia. But at that time, not all the provinces, that make up this vast country, were convinced. Nearly 35 years later, after numerous studies, budgetary calculations and close analysis of military and economic interests, the project was finally approved and building began in early 1891. It took no fewer than 25 years to complete this monumental work, which was finished in 1916. Ever since, and to the delight of the Russian population, but also travellers like us, you can now reach Moscow from Vladivostok in “just” 7 days!
As you follow the Volga river, from the window of your carriage, you’ll see the villages of the Ural rolling past; then, when you think you’ve seen all there is to see, the landscapes of Lake Baïkal will again take your breathe away. At this juncture, there are several options available to you:
– Red path: you can continue on the Trans-Siberian route, following Russian’s southern border as far as Vladivostok, the terminus of this epic journey.
– Green path: you can take the Trans Mongolian Railway, cutting across Mongolia, and Oulan-Bator, in particular, before reaching Beijing, in China.
– Blue path: you can bypass Mongolia and travel through North China, towards Harbin, a city that will be familiar to readers of our last edition (#10), as it hosts one of the world’s largest ice sculpture festivals. This section, called the Trans Manchurian railway, also terminates in Beijing.
Now that’s you’re unbeatable about the Trans-siberian, it’s time to book your ticket and learn some usefull words. Departure scheduled tomorrow, with Stanislas Giroux. Be ready!