To be honest I didn’t know what to expect on this journey. I had the feeling it could go one way or the other, so got my supplies and jumped on the train… a couple books, charged the DS, some basic food supplies, 6 beers and a bottle of vodka. Bring it on train!
First thing I noticed was the cabin (Kupe class) was much better than the one I had from Budapest to Moscow. All 4 beds in the room could be left down and still leave enough room to sit comfortably – this allowed me to get onto one of the top bunks so I could stay out of peoples way if required.
I started off sharing a cabin with a Russian family (a couple and their grand-daughter) and at first it felt a bit awkward so I tried to stay out of their way so started chatting to a married couple (English & Colombian) who were in the cabin next to mine – It was a relief that someone spoke English and I wouldn’t be completely cut off for the whole trip.
Before long I was collared by the family in my cabin and forced to sit with them… I really didn’t know what to expect but all of a sudden the woman was feeding me and the guy was pouring 8% beer in a cup, turns out this family was very nice!
They got off the next day and were replaced by 2 iffy Russians who didn’t make any attempt to communicate so I ended up playing Uno & Backgammon with the married couple.
The last night involved plenty of beer and sharing my bottle of Vodka with half of the train which in turn got me plenty of drinks in return. It got blury, don’t remember packing my bags and was a bit tipsy when I got off the train and started walking for an hour in a massive storm, falling over in puddles twice, getting pitied by the hostel woman and given plenty of nice coffee in return… welcome to Irkutsk… it’s 5am.