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UTA_flyinghigh
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Anyone Took The Trans-Siberian Train To China?

Mon Jan 19, 2004 4:53 pm

...a (cute, female) coworker is trying to round up people to accompany her on a Moscow to Beijing trip on the Trans-Mandchurina train. The trip is supposed to last five days...has anybody here undertaken such a trip ?

UTA, who only has 20 days of vacation per year  Sad
Fly to live, live to fly - Air France/KLM Flying Blue Platinum, BMI Diamond Club Gold, Emirates Skywards
 
dazultra
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RE: Anyone Took The Trans-Siberian Train To China?

Mon Jan 19, 2004 4:58 pm

There was a holiday program about this quite recently, seemed quite a basic train with not many 'facilities'. this is because a lot of ppl actually use this train for transport rather than as pleasure or tourism. The train stopped at certain places and you were able to get off and spend the night somewhere on land as i recall. on the whole it didnt look too great, but then depends who u go with  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

Daz.
 
BlatantEcho
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RE: Anyone Took The Trans-Siberian Train To China?

Mon Jan 19, 2004 5:01 pm

only 20 days of vacation?

That's FOUR weeks. It takes years in this country to earn the right to 4 weeks paid vacation.

George
 
707CMF
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RE: Anyone Took The Trans-Siberian Train To China?

Mon Jan 19, 2004 5:06 pm

Never travelled with this train (even if my Russian descent would have inclined me to do so)

As for holidays, I still have 40 days to take this year (the nice result of not taking a lot of holidays in the past years)

707
 
Kay
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RE: Anyone Took The Trans-Siberian Train To China?

Wed Jan 21, 2004 5:33 am

I am allowed to 6 weeks of vacation per year (30 days)  Acting devilish
that's how it is at the UN!
 
FoxBravo
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RE: Anyone Took The Trans-Siberian Train To China?

Wed Jan 21, 2004 11:46 pm

I haven't done it, but I have heard it's an incredible (though sometimes difficult) journey. However, I would definitely plan to spend more time than 5 days--with 5 days, you will barely have time to get out of the train. You will spend all day and night cooped up inside, watching the scenery pass, which to me sounds like torture! There are some amazing things to stop and see en route, such as the city of Irkutsk and Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world. Also, depending on the route, you can travel via Mongolia, which is another place I have always wanted to see.

You will also want to spend some time in Beijing (which I have visited), which has so many interesting attractions in the immediate area--the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven, etc. You could spend a week there seeing everything!

-FoxBravo, an American with 20 days of vacation  Smile
Common sense is not so common. -Voltaire
 
MD11Engineer
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RE: Anyone Took The Trans-Siberian Train To China?

Thu Jan 22, 2004 12:18 am

4 weeks is the legal minimum in Europe, depending how unionized the place you´re working for is it might be up to 6 weeks, or you might have a nice boss... , I´ve got 5 weeks per year.

Jan
Je Suis Charlie et je suis Ahmet aussi
 
bobrayner
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RE: Anyone Took The Trans-Siberian Train To China?

Thu Jan 22, 2004 10:03 am

Yes - I took the Trans-Manchurian early last year.

Meet strange people, eat too much omul, drink too much konyak (hint: it doubles as drain-cleaner), have torturous conversations with people who only share six words of vocabulary with you, get extremely disoriented by the timetable and timezone changes, catch a serious gastrointestinal illness from the canteen car, don't shower for a week, read too many books, try writing and give up after a day, despair when your walkman runs out of batteries and you're 1000 miles from the nearest replacement, slowly go mad without any GSM coverage for days on end, take thousands of photos, learn things that you never wanted to know from the provodnik(tsa) every time you go to the water-boiler, learn the kind of Russian that you'd never learn in school, watch thousands of km of birch forest and wilderness and mountains and rivers roll past...

It's excellent; a very interesting holiday. I loved it.

However, I don't really want to travel the same route for my next holiday... It's a huge world; why go to the same place twice? According to Lonely Planet, the Torugart Pass is one of the world's most difficult border crossings, so I'd like to try that route across Asia next time.  Big grin

The Russia-China border crossing on the Trans-Manchurian can be a little stressful; there are several bits of ominous-looking paperwork to deal with, and nobody's is perfect. Anyway, you'll probably share a carriage with some Chinese/Russians trying to carry illicit goods/currency across the border; they have more to worry about, and their nerves are contagious when you're trapped in a carriage with them rolling along the very slow, very barren approach to the border.  Smile

The train stopped at certain places and you were able to get off and spend the night somewhere on land as i recall

For most tourists, this would be an extra-cost option arranged with the travel agency.

Mongolia is where people normally load up on options (jeep trekking, spend 2 nights in a ger, &c &c), and you could tick an extra country off your list if that's what you're interested in - the trans-Mongolian is a slightly more mainstream tourist option. It'll also cost slightly more (mongolian visa; currency changes) but is slightly faster than the trans-Manchurian simply because it takes a more direct route.

The actual journey costs - your train ticket and a few days of food - are very low. The vast majority of your money will sink into hotels at each end, flights, visas, and of course the travel agency markup.

...a (cute, female) coworker is trying to round up people to accompany her on a Moscow to Beijing trip on the Trans-Mandchurina train. The trip is supposed to last five days...has anybody here undertaken such a trip ?

Yes; go. Don't think twice. Book it, you won't regret it.  Smile

When is she planning to travel? Summer and winter are very different experiences. Also, what class? 1st / 2nd / platskartny? Does she want to break the route, or do it all in one journey?

http://bobrayner.org/train/Irkutsk_sunrise.jpg
Cunning linguist
 
bobrayner
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RE: Anyone Took The Trans-Siberian Train To China?

Fri Jan 23, 2004 10:39 am

Oops... sorry for killing the thread  Wink/being sarcastic
Cunning linguist
 
FoxBravo
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RE: Anyone Took The Trans-Siberian Train To China?

Fri Jan 23, 2004 12:01 pm

Very interesting--thanks for the "trip report," Bobrayner. And cool photo. Sounds like quite an experience--I hope to try it myself someday.
Common sense is not so common. -Voltaire
 
bobrayner
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RE: Anyone Took The Trans-Siberian Train To China?

Fri Jan 23, 2004 9:03 pm

On a more practical note, east-west is likely to be cheaper for an Elbonian than west-east.

That way, you can get a discounted return flight (Elbonia-China-Elbonia) but only use the outward leg, which is probably the cheapest (IME. YMMV). Your flight is the largest single cost of the holiday.
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UTA_flyinghigh
Topic Author
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RE: Anyone Took The Trans-Siberian Train To China?

Fri Jan 23, 2004 9:14 pm

We're thinking of getting the platskartny class, fly to SVO, train to BJS then 744 BJS -> CDG, but right now we're running in visa predicaments and outrageously high DUB to SVO fares  Sad
Keep you updated.
Bobrayner - many thanks for your post  Big thumbs up, confirms what we've been reading in the Lonely Planet book.

UTA
Fly to live, live to fly - Air France/KLM Flying Blue Platinum, BMI Diamond Club Gold, Emirates Skywards
 
bobrayner
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RE: Anyone Took The Trans-Siberian Train To China?

Fri Jan 23, 2004 9:54 pm

If DUB-SVO is too expensive - try looking for bargain flights to some other eastern/central-european destination (Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius, St Pete, Warsaw, Berlin...) then add an extra train/bus journey to your itinerary? You've probably already considered this.

To take this principle to extremes - it must be possible to get very cheap flights to BRU, surely? There are direct (2 night) sleepers from Brussel to Moscow starting in April...  Big grin

Which visa is problematic - Russia or China?

[Edited 2004-01-23 13:58:04]
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UTA_flyinghigh
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RE: Anyone Took The Trans-Siberian Train To China?

Fri Jan 23, 2004 10:21 pm

It's Russia, the Russian embassy's number over here always seems to be engaged and their collegues in Paris never return calls  Sad

UTA
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ben
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RE: Anyone Took The Trans-Siberian Train To China?

Sat Jan 24, 2004 12:04 am

I have travelled extensively on trains in Russia and the former USSR but never the actual Trans Siberian.

As someone else said, the actual on-the-rails journey might take 5 days, but you will need a few days in Moscow (I suggest about 3 weeks ideally), a day and/or night in a few key stops along the main route, some time at the beginning and end for transfers, time for looking at all the interesting aircraft, flying to and from home etc etc.. if there is one thing you need in that part of the world, it's time.

Since the Trans Siberian is a path well travelled and has a bit of 'mass market appeal', the towns along it are more tuned into tourism than others in Russia. For me, one of the main points of appeal for parts of Russia and other places is that there are no tourists. When I say no tourists, I mean they might see a single westerner every year or so. I'm not kidding. If you get the chance to travel off on a branch-line, or take a regional flight from a Siberian city, do it. Cities on the main line, to me, are a lot less appealing.

Your experiences with the embassy are going to be a metaphor for the whole trip.. It's character building every step of the way, let me tell you that.

However, if me saying all of these things seems a bit negative, once you get used to 'the system' of travel and daily life in that region, a whole new world will open up for you. I can't get enough of it. As I always say: Kazhdiy dyen priklucheniye! For better or worse, every day is an adventure. It will never be boring.
 
bobrayner
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RE: Anyone Took The Trans-Siberian Train To China?

Sat Jan 24, 2004 12:23 am

It's Russia, the Russian embassy's number over here always seems to be engaged and their collegues in Paris never return calls

That's a shame... Won't the travel agency offer to arrange the visa for you?
(presumably for an extra charge)

Alternatively - visit in person? Consular opening hours are ridiculous, but you should be able to get a visa in minutes (at extra cost) if you already have all the travel documentation...

Since the Trans Siberian is a path well travelled and has a bit of 'mass market appeal', the towns along it are more tuned into tourism than others in Russia.

Perhaps a little... but it's a long way from being Ibiza or Disneyland yet!  Smile
Cunning linguist
 
bobrayner
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RE: Anyone Took The Trans-Siberian Train To China?

Sun Jan 25, 2004 11:50 am

If you travel Trans-Manchurian, you will probably have accommodation like this?
http://bobrayner.org/train/Vostok.jpg (679k)

Admittedly, it's not the high-quality photography that we expect on a.net... but I'm not a trainspotter.  Big grin
Cunning linguist

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