09 October 2009
It’s 6 O’Clock Moscow Time, Which Means It’s...I Have NO IDEA.
I came across a travel article prior to this trip with the tag line “lose all sense of time and space on the TransSiberian.” While I now completely agree, it is for a very different reason. The article suggests you just get wrapped up in the scenery, the ride and the adventure to really understand where you are. It’s much simpler than that: While the rest of the world sticks to time zones, Russia keeps all eight of theirs intact but runs all the trains on Moscow time. That is, it may be 6pm in Irkutsk, but that’s 1pm in Moscow and our train might leave at 7pm, but that’s Moscow time - so midnight in Irkutsk. So while the local citizens have their clocks set to local time, all the train stations house enormous clocks displaying Moscow time. Meanwhile, my watch is set to London time with the dual clock set to Pacific Standard Time. Follow me?
This has provided hours of conversation on the train. It goes something like this: “What time is it here? Okay, it’s 5pm Yekaterinburg which is three hours ahead of Irkutsk, which is one behind Beijing. Now, we leave at noon Moscow time on Wednesday - what day is it? - Tuesday, okay. So we leave at noon Moscow time on Wednesday which means it’s now 4am in Los Angeles on Monday and noon in London, so with the stars in the third quadrant of the Milky Way and our having just passed the sixty first parallel, I think it’s time for lunch!”
Meals seem to happen whenever your body feels like it and once it’s dark outside, all bets are off as to what you should be doing. Sleeping? Reading? Eating? Drinking? NO CLUE.
As we cruise tomorrow Moscow on this - our final leg of the “official” TransSiberian journey - I’m getting slightly confused. Will my legs work? What will I do with all this time that will no doubt begin to appear? How will I know when to eat and sleep? What does a shower feel like? If there are any “take-aways” from this journey, I think they have to begin with a new-found appreciation for hot good, cold beverages and showers.
Oh, and give gifts to the women in charge of your train. For whatever reason, they’re all incredibly mean (minus our current chief, who has smiled at me. TWICE). The last one was wearing black leather lace-up thigh boots and an entire stick of lipstick. Upon coming to collect our sheets, she proceeded to throw a tantrum in Russian because a wash-cloth was missing. After pointing to our bags in an apparent attempt to pin us as a vicious Siberian ring of face towel thieves, we were booted from the cabin so she could look in every nook and cranny, eventually finding said wash-cloth under the seat. She held it up in our faces, shook it violently then stormed off. I looked at Matt and asked, “what just happened?”
Just as we have no doubt lost all sense of time and space, so too has this blog post. I have no idea what’s going on right now. Should I stop? Is there more to say? Maybe a snack break or an exciting trip to the dining car? Well, according to my watch and reading the path of the sun, it appears it is time to close. I shall now return to staring out the window.