Moscow to Irkutsk
Three days ago, I boarded a train from Moscow. My destination is a town called Irkutsk, the main stop for Lake Baikal. This is a four-day journey and I’m expected to reach Irkutsk tomorrow morning.
Siberia is passing outside my window as I write this. The view is gorgeous- autumn trees with leaves of bright orange, yellow and red fill my window frame from top to bottom.
I find myself stopping to take photographs every few minutes- every copse of trees is more beautiful than the last and every wooden farmhouse more adorable than the one I saw, say, ten minutes ago. I already have dozens of photos of trees and here I am taking more.
I’m sitting in berth no. 19, in carriage no. 7, on train no. 340. There is just one other person in my compartment- an older lady who offered me half of her sandwich.
I am riding the Trans-Siberian Railway because I’m curious, but there’s nothing new about what I’m doing. People have been travelling for centuries- uprooting their entire families in search of a better life or moving to another city or country to find a job. All that involves movement from one point to another.
At the most basic level, people began travelling simply because they were curious. What’s on the other side? What’s over the mountain? Are there people there?
This leg from Moscow to Irkutsk hasn’t been completely comfortable.
My sleeping berth comes with a reading light, pillow and warm blanket, but the mattress is as hard as stone. The bathroom is cramped even for me and showers are possible only by using a bottle of mineral water. Despite that, I dread the thought of leaving this train in the morning. I don’t want to get down.
I may be moving across thousands of miles right now and yet deep inside I am completely still.
Siberia is outside, zipping past my window but I – me, myself, my state of mind- am at rest. I am at peace right now, stuck in my little berth, staring outside the window. I am safe in my train. I am content.
I am so safe where I am right now that I don’t want to leave. All I had to do for the past three days was to wake up, enjoy the scenery, read, and sleep if I felt like it. Getting off tomorrow means another journey with uncertainty. I don’t know what’s going to happen once I get off this train.
After Irkutsk, I will move on to Mongolia and after that, to China. I’ve told myself that if I have the energy and money to go on after Beijing, I’ll continue taking trains until I reach Malaysia.
It’s starting to get dark outside, so before my time runs out on this train, I’m going to switch off and enjoy the scenery while I can.
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