We are on the six day and approximately 150 hour train ride from Moscow to Bejing as you read this. There is a possibility that Jeannie and Nora have already smothered me for my snoring. If so, I wish this, my last post, to officially beg for their forgiveness in the courts of law.
My snoring might make murder into justifiable homicide.
Now that I think about it…. I bet there is video proof of that coming up next week from one of those two on the Ultimate Train Challenge blog. Damn it.
So, I have done the Trans-Mongolian once before, on my round-the-world trip in 2009-10 without leaving the ground. But on that particular trip, I did actually stop twice, once in Irkutsk near Lake Baikal.
Interesting fact, Lake Baikal holds approximately 20% of the world’s fresh, unfrozen water in the world’s oldest and deepest lake. Amazing. Then again, the Russian government is doing everything they can to drain it for mass agriculture and destroy the local environment, so it might be 20% today and 5% in twenty years.
I also stopped in Ulan Bator, Mongolia on that trip (and got to check out a local show of artists that was amazing – this is one of my favorite short videos on my entire trip). On this particular trip, we will not be going through Mongolia at all, but skirting it to the north.
What amazes me about the whole trip, not surprisingly, is how fracking huge Russia and China are. Right now, I am looking at our train schedule on the Real Russia site, our wonderful sponsors for this part of the journey.
We travel 6,626 kilometers (4,117 miles) from Moscow to the China border. It takes from 11:35 p.m. Saturday night until 3:57 p.m. on Thursday afternoon to get there.
The journey is 8,961 kilometers (5,568 miles) from Moscow to Beijing on this route. Wishing I was able to fit Shanghai into this trip, but no on the right train path.
We arrive at 5:32 a.m. Saturday morning… more than six days after we leave. And that’s never leaving the train for any stop longer than 30 minutes at any of the stations.
To put that in perspective, according to Google Maps, Los Angeles to New York is 2,790 miles. Do the math.
We are going from New York to Los Angeles…and back…this week.
One of the reasons that I adore overland travel is that I firmly believe that is the best way for one to grasp the full enormity of our amazing planet. You can get on a plane and fly from Los Angeles to Bangkok in under 18 hours. Or from London to Johannesburg in 11 hours. Or this route – Moscow to Bejing – in under 8 hours.
But I’m sorry, you will not be able to remotely grasp how immense our wonderful planet Earth is by flying over it. It is huge. It is spectacular. I am never ceased to be awestruck in almost every corner I go to.
And if you don’t give a bit of extensive overland travel out at some point in your life… I think you are missing out.