March 24, 2011

The horse master

My last day in the camp and we are invited to visit the nomadic home of Bachka who lives nearby (at least he does at the moment).  Bachka is the local horse master, I have seen him in action taking […]
March 23, 2011

Among the Golden Horde – Part 2

22nd March There are not many guests in the camp; apart from our guides there is Kevin, a fuel technician who lives in Alaska and works in Antarctica and Mel, Leah and Carol from Canada.  It feels like a snow […]
March 23, 2011

Among the Golden Horde – Part 1

21st March In preparation for arrival at Ulan Bator I get up at 5.00am and do the Indiana Jones thing over the open tracks to get to the washroom in the next carriage.  I am unprepared for the sheer intensity […]
March 20, 2011

Princess Anne vs Ghengis Khan

The Trans-Manchurian line runs from Irkutsk to Ulan Bator and on to Beijing for the next leg of the journey.  The rolling stock is considerably older and maintains a certain old-world charm such as a coal furnace on every carriage […]
March 19, 2011

Nikky Nakky Noo!

I spend the day  in Irkutsk before catching the train that takes me to Ulan Ude and then over the Mongolian border to Ulaan Baatur.  Irkutsk is a mixture of styles – originally a fur trading post, then a gold […]
March 18, 2011

A lesson in leadership

The dog sledging centre is based in the valley high above Listvyanka in the heart of the pine forest. The centre is run by Natasha and has around 30 dogs; large husky type things with blue eyes and foot-long tongues […]
March 17, 2011

Breaking the ice

I disembark from the train at 6:15am at Irkutsk.  In the last 24 hours the cabin next to mine has been occupied by two police officers (the police seem to use the railways extensively) – they spend their time watching […]
March 16, 2011

Camping for boys

Today is my last full day on board the #2 Moscow-Vladivostok train and there is a touch of cabin fever in the air.  The carriage is comfortable and warm and, because it is low season, not particularly overcrowded.  However, there […]
March 15, 2011

Fascinating facts file –Vol 1

Sometime during the night we passed over the Ural mountains and through Ekaterinberg (famous for being the birthplace of Boris Yeltsin and where the Tsar and his family were murdered in a basement); we have therefore now, formally passed into […]
March 14, 2011

The odd couple

Train number six takes me from Moscow to Irkutsk and is the longest single leg of the journey.  As I will spend four days on this train I find myself wishing for an interesting and personable companion to share my […]
March 12, 2011

Lenin is being washed

It’s Saturday morning and I have roughly 24 hours to “do” Moscow.  My guide is Lena, a Muscovite schoolteacher who works part time as a tour guide. She is articulate and funny and talks about Russia with dry humour.  She […]
March 11, 2011

Why the toilets are shut.

At 1am we cross the border into Belarus.  The train attendants wake us up and the border guards come on board to check passports.  There is a long wait while they make their way through the train during which time, […]