Kyle’s Journey in Armenia

Just Another Peace Corps Blog

  • Kyle? In Armenia?

    My name is Kyle, and I am a Peace Corps volunteer in Noyemberyan, Armenia. I will live here until August 2008 and am an Information Technology volunteer. In addition to my primary assignment developing my region's WiFi internet, I also teach computer and English classes to area youth. Thank you for visiting!

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5
Aug 2008
A Trans-Siberian Adventure
Posted in Peace Corps by Kyle at 5:54 pm |

Riding across Russia in an old Soviet train car has always sounded appealing to me, for some reason. Whether for the excitement of traveling across a land which once seemed so inaccessible, or to meet travelers from around the world, or to simple make a (not so) quick getaway from Armenia, I boarded train #4 in Moscow the evening of July 27th, ready for an adventure.

Ready to depart - China, here we come! 

And an adventure is what I got, from start to finish. I tried to keep a journal, so I’ll share some excerpts with you, along with some pictures:

Day 1: We boarded the train around 9, with the Vladivostok train next door, and left at 9:35. Our cabin is small and not as comfortable as the St. P train. The beds have a sheet and a fleece strip a blanket. Matresses have no padding. We just organized our things, I read (Crime and Punishment) and went to bed around 11. Before, our cabin attendant, “P” brough us a .6L Chinese beer which was just ok. Nice guy, and we’re going to try and get on his good side.

Waiting for the the train Fresh lettuce

Day 2: Woke up around 8 AM. Very restless sleep as the cabin’s not long enough for me. It was also cold. We slept with the window and blinds open initially and that was a bad idea. Now it’s better. After waking up, Kathy and I toured the train. There are 2 first class trains; two with 4 person rooms, and two with 2 person rooms. The two person rooms even have a shower inside! The bathrooms are all the same, though. There are no paper towels and no soap. The toilents flush straight on to the tracks. There is also one dining car, which smelled like coal and served mashed potatos for breakfast, and no observation car. Definitely no frills.

Our conductor collecting tickets 

Day 3: Yesterday was a lazy day. I only slept til 8, and then had a snack at 1, lunch at 2, watched Gone Baby Gone from 2-4, slept 5-7, ate dinner at 8. Went to sleep around 1, and woke up this morning about 9:30. All these times are Moscow time, so now our sun is setting early and rising earlier as we head East. We’re already +2 hours from Moscow, and will be +5 by the time we end our trip.

The views yesterday were good - it rained on and off, but we were going through big tall trees and rivers. Today is hot and sunny but even flater with lower trees. Reminds me of east Kansas. I really enjoy the relaxing days, and am sleeping better now. My favorite part of the train trip so far has been getting out at the stops along the way. We stop every 4 or 5 hours for about 20 minutes at various stations, and at each stop there are tons of stores selling any amenity we could need for the train, from toothbrushes to bottled water to 5L jugs of beer!

Many sellers on the train platforms  Delicous homemade food always available

Day 5: See previous days. We have passed a big lake (Baikal) which is pretty, but was not worth Kathy saying, “Guys, you have to wake up to look at this,” while opening the shades at 8:30 in the morning, and then leaving the cabin. It looks pretty much like Lake Sevan, but maybe if we stayed there it would be better.

Lake Baikal 2 

Scott Demyan (one of the Peace Corps volunteers from my group) is getting married today. Too bad we couldn’t be there for that. Today we pass the the Russian-Mongolian border. There’s a chance my next entry will be from prison. Our visas expired 2 days ago, but it’s because Levon Travel in Yerevan promised that when we left Moscow on the 29th, we entered a possibly-non-existant free travel zone. T-minus 5 hours and we’ll know. Russian border guards are usually very friendly people so I doubt we’ll have a problem.

…..

We did have a problem :) But tomorrow we will be leaving Russia, and I will explain everything safely from Mongolia. Until then, enjoy the rest of my pictures in the photo gallery.


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The views expressed herein are the views of the author and do not express those of Peace Corps Armenia or the United States government.