Day 5 – Khabarovsk to Irkutsk Train Part 2

After sleeping so early, I also woke up early, around 5 am, just in time to catch the colours changing in the sky as the sun was rising.

I made some oatmeal, using a fairly genius device that I brought from home – a silicon loaf pan. Originally I wanted to buy a collapsible bowl from MEC, but decided I wasn’t going to spend $8 on something I wouldn’t use again. Then I decided on a big tupperware container, but its rigid shape took up too much space in my bag. Finally, I discovered my good old loaf pan, shown below. Since the material is flexible, it was easier to pack, not to mention light and can take (and cool boiling water). In fact, the engineer inside me got excited at the potential for heat conduction and convection due to the large surface area (my goal was to be able to cool the boiling water to room temperature fast). 

Some nice views of the journey from the day. It was so pleasant in our compartment for a while, because the family below us had left early in the morning, before we had woken up. Yes, Mayesha and I celebrated when we realized we had the compartment to ourselves for at least a while. It ended up lasting until the next morning, and we were so grateful for our luck.

However, the heat started taking over in the afternoon. The air conditioning stopped working for a few hours, and the carriage heated up to above 32 degrees (yes, there was a there was a thermometer for us to check!). It turns out that the outdoor temperature was to blame. Around 4 pm, our stop in a small town provided a temperature update – our mobile router wasn’t working well enough for us to get much internet access in these remote regions.

Notice the “48 degrees”. I’m not sure if I believe it was THAT hot, but yes it was hot. Even the convenience store at that station was running low on cold drinks.

Despite it being a rough afternoon, I still managed to catch few nice video clips throughout the day.

And later in the evening as the sun was almost about to begin going down (sunset is consistently around 9:30-10 here in Russia…).

We stayed up a little bit later this night, eating cookies and appreciating the views once the carriage cooled to about 26 degrees. 

A reflection on long train rides so far: despite being confined to a small space with people who may commit minor annoyances and despite the lack of fresh air, the sense of having absolutely nothing to do is quite relaxing. You can take your time to eat, enjoy your food, enjoy the company of your travel partner, nap literally the second you feel a little sleepy, and just gaze out the window for hours on end. And it definitely adds to the effect of slow, immersive travel to literally live in the same space as locals from all walks of life. I also enjoy the mild rocking of the train as I’m sleeping, maybe it’s similar to babies that find the rocking of cribs to be soothing.

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