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The Train Ride Ulaan Bataar to Irkutsk

Irkutsk, Russia


Thanks for your comments guys, I am glad that someone is reading this, and Stephen, the water was clean, but I did dry it a couple of times.

We went to the worlds worst supermarket to get supplies for the train ride. Luckily we did because there were to be no meals for 25 hours. They didn't put a dining car on the train. We didn't know this, so we walked up and down the train looking for it like a pair of idiots.

As we arrived in the train cabin we met our two travelling mates and settled in. One was a young man named Murat, a quiet 20 year old student on his way back to Saint Petersburg (6 days straight in the train) for university. The other man's name I can't remember, because I only called him Big Boss.

Russia has very high import duties on luxury items, e.g. Jeans, Denim Jackets, etc. Big Boss wanted to avoid having to pay those duties, so he brought box loads of these items on to the train and then during the ride, he distributed the jackets amongst the rooms and bags so that it looked like everyone on the train just happened to like denim. We were in the middle of an International smuggling ring... Fucking sweet!

They share Vodka with us, we meet his friend Olzod who used to be an Asian boxing champion and we watch him punch the shit out of any furniture he can find. We share Vodka with him, but it looks like he doesn't need any more.

We arrive at the Russian border at about midnight... The train slows... We are handed customs declaration forms, Big Boss sits there looking at his form and says something to Murat in Mongolian. We then wait, and as the Russian customs inspectors storm on in their boots and uniforms, Big Boss finds the head customs official and they chat, joke and laugh for about 20 minutes. Then our passports are taken away and inspected while we are asked to get out of the room, so walls and ceilings can be unscrewed so they can inspect inside them. They find something in Olzod's cabin next door, so Olzod comes into our room, talks to Big Boss, they get some money out to grease some palms and he leaves.

Altogether we are at the border for about 3 and a half hours. Although I am falling asleep once my stuff is finished. Adam can't as he needs the toilet but it is closed for 30 minutes before and after stations! hahahaha he had to wait!

Next thing I remember is waking up and we are in Russia. The countryside has changed from rolling hills and fields to thick forest. The train pulls in to the station at about 4 in the afternoon and we get to our hotel in Irkutsk, the Paris of Siberia...

Now comes the 3 day train ride! Will update a couple of days worth in Moscow!

permalink written by  Big_T on August 29, 2008 from Irkutsk, Russia
from the travel blog: Big_T's Travel Blog
tagged Train and Smuggling

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