I was writing notes at random intervals on the train so this is sort of broken up.

Well its time for my first long (36 hour) train journey from Budapest to Moscow via the Ukraine – First impressions as the train rolls into the station “Wow thats so Russian!” and thats about all I can do to explain it 😛

The cabin is of course small (3 berth, cheapest) but I do like the little nooks and crannys that hide things (like sink under table, storage under seats, fridge under stool etc).

Continue reading

Belgrade & Budapest

Waiting on Zack to upload his photos to facebook… until he does this post will be a wall of text / placeholders!

Belgrade – Serbia

After the festival Sho, Alfie, Danny, Becca & Myself went to Belgrade for a couple days and to be honest I don’t have much to say about the city. It’s strangely arranged so you tend not to find what you are looking for and all the places that open late are on weird little streets. Nothing much happened in the time we were there, couple normal nights out and thats about it.

One thing I do have to point out though… Continue reading

Trans-Siberian

…via a load of other places!

I mentioned it before and I’ve had a couple people ask about my travel plans so here we go! I’ve been looking into doing some travelling before starting this internship in China and also have had to give a bit of thought about how I would be getting to Beijing for the 24th and here’s what I’ve come up with!

July: East Europe
August: Russia
September: China

Back in 2006 a friend and myself went on a small trip through Hungary & Serbia and ended up in Novi Sad for the Exit Festival which is held in the massive Petrovaradin Fortress in the middle of the river.

It was one of the biggest and greatest festivals I’ve been to and always wanted to go back so now’s as good as time as any!

6th July – Fly Luton to Budapest then overnight train to Novi Sad for Exit

8-11th July – Exit Festival, Novi Sad, Serbia.

After the festival jump on a bus to Belgrade and spend some time between there and Budapest, I have about 12 days to kill and will just go with the flow methinks. Need to be in Budapest by the 25th July for a 35hour train from Budapest to Moscow via Ukraine.

Next is… Russia!

Arrive in Moscow about the 27th July. Spending a few nights in Moscow, seeing the sights (Kremin etc), registering my visa and collecting train tickets for the next step. Will also probably jump on an overnight train to St Petersburg for the weekend, long as I’m back in Moscow for the 3rd….

Trans-Siberian from Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia! This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now… the grand Trans-Siberian railway! I won’t be doing the whole thing in one wack (7 days) because it seems like a waste to just go past some of the places without stopping for awhile so here is what I have come up with!

3rd August 2010 > 7th August 2010 Moscow to Irkutsk
I will be in Irkutsk for 5 days (arrive early morning, leave late at night) and from what I’ve read there is some great things to see in East Siberia’s largest city. Guessing I will be taking a couple days to go to Lake Baikal which is the worlds deepest fresh water lake (and meant to be lovely in the middle of summer when I’ll be there!)

11th August 2010 > 13th August 2010 Irkutsk to Ulan Bator (Mongolia)
Now Mongolia is somewhere I’m really looking forward to seeing! I’ll be there for 6 days and at least some of those will be spent out in the middle of nowhere sleeping in a goat skin tent trying to avoid some of the local delicacies (google for it if you don’t know). From what I’ve read about the city itself its a bit of a strange one. Tribes setting up camps on paved streets and traditional Mongol dressed people drinking with guys in suites. Sounds great! Oh I want to get me one of those hats!

19th August 2010 > 20th August 2010 Ulan Bator to Beijing
And finally arriving in Beijing where I will have 4 days to scout out the place before meeting my fellow interns and getting stuck into teaching.

So there we have it! Nothing is set in stone at the moment as I don’t even know if I’ve been accepted but I’ll be doing this trip either way, below is some information for those that are interested.

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Breakdown of costs: VISAs:

  • Russia: £117 for a tourist visa, must be registered within 3 days of entering the country. Lasts 30 days.
  • Mongolia: £60 for a tourist visa. Lasts 30 days.
  • China: £92 for a tourist visa. I will be going in on a cheaper (£30) teaching visa. Lasts 90 days.

Flight to Budapest: £65 with EasyJet

Train Costs:

  • Budapest to Belgrade is about £22 return. Novi Sad is on route so sorted. Bus from Novi Sad to Belgrade after the festival is £10ish
  • Budapest to Moscow via Ukraine is £130.
  • Moscow to St Petersburg on the night train return is £50
  • Trans-Sib:
    The cost to run direct from Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia WITHOUT stopping is around £520. When breaking it up it’s coming to around £550. This is for a standard 2nd class (4 bunk) sleeper, generally with fresh linen (sometimes an extra $1 for that) and all the boiling water you want! The food on the train differs depending on the country you are in but generally you are looking at $3 a meal (meat & potatoes) but there is plenty on offer at each platform the station stops at and i’ll have soup or noodles to make use of that water methinks!

Sleeping & Food Budgets:

Well out of around 50 days doing the above 17 nights will be sleeping on transport so that leaves the following breakdown.

  • East Europe & West Russia: 18 nights @ £15 = £270
  • East Siberia, Mongolia & China: 14 Nights @ £10 = 140
  • Food & Drink: General £15 a day so 50×15 = £750

So there we have it. Costs are just quick lookups and estimates from previous experiences, it just gives me an idea of how much I need to work at this current job before I can quit!

Any questions give me a shout!