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  • Gemma Fottles

The Russian Outback – Trans-Siberian Rail snapshot

Updated: May 18, 2021

Travelling the Trans-Siberian rail is a surreal experience. Days and days float into one another, and the rolling landscapes and Russia through to Mongolia blend into one. With eyes almost always gazing out of the window, it comes as a welcome reprieve to see signs of life on the way. A smattering of grazing animals, a handful of houses in a remote village by the railway, or the rush of a bustling town as the train hurtles through.

sceeeenery on Transiberian rAIL

Trans-Siberian Rail: a Snapshot

This is one of those snapshots of life besides the Trans-Siberian Rail. Miles and miles in the middle of the vast countryside of Russia, a tiny fishing village sits undisturbed but for the huge train roaring past. You can't help but wonder what life is like out there, on the edge of the wilderness with so few people living around you you can count them on one hand. Is it boring or is it liberating? Is it bleak or is it full of purpose?

I never found out the answer to those questions. I was on a schedule set by the bosses at SPAR International, halfway through my four-month journey around the world as a travel reporter for SPAR. I wasn't allowed to get off and go wandering until I got to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.

Doing the Trans-Siberian Rail was the strangest journey of my life. Without stepping off the train from Moscow to Ulaanbaatar, time lost all meaning. After a couple of days, nothing but vodka and cheap instant noodles permeated the boredom that settles after days in the same confined space with the same company. It was something I’m definitely glad that I did… but perhaps you won’t find me doing it again any time soon.

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