Day 7: Ulan Ude (Russian Border) to Mariinsk via Irkutsk

A traveler we met at the hotel in Beijing asked us, “Why the Trans-Siberian?” It took us aback. After all this planning, it seemed an achievement just to execute. We were stunned. Hmm. A good question. So we dug deep into our memory tool chest. Surely there must be a reason that had crossed our minds decades ago. I found myself one, after some digging. “Oh”, I finally blurted. “I like trains” …”and I am going cross country on Amtrak”. It was pretty weak, until I later remembered that I worked for Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway System for three years during the time it was under construction. I became somewhat a railway nut during that time. Working in the monastic order can make you do strange things, like want to be like the big boys. So my railway brothers talked shop about British Railway and the London Tube like it was the state of the art. BART wasn’t exactly either, but at least it was new at the time. The British Civil Engineer who hired me told me, “we’re all guests here”, referring to the ex-pats in Hong Kong. My director, a Midlands engineer who had never been abroad before going to Scotland, found himself in Hong Kong with his wife and three kids. they could live like royalty in the Mid-Levels, send their kids to public schools in the UK, and take annual trips back home on the QE2. He reminded me that “we’re all basically “Wrailwray” men here, as a gesture of camaraderie. But despite the fogies, I did enjoy transportation planning. A recent UC Berkeley grad at MTR taught me about trip headways, modalities, and methods of predicting number of passengers. I even started to learn about all the railways in the world, both heavy gauge and light rail, and their special features. I still remember that rubber tires like the ones used in the Montreal system were quieter but prone to fires, whereas the squeaky steel wheels were more reliable. BART was never discussed because it was too new to evaluate, and there certainly was a bias toward British colonial interests. So, such is my explanation about taking the Trans-Siberian. It’s another reason for my hopeless love and fascination for wandering the world. Trains are soothing, and help you to think and reflect on life. It helps you to stop the world and get off the internet. PS. Another explanation is due: the Chinese system shut down my ability to post using Google and my WordPress hosting site. Apologies to those of you who were disappointed and could not view the images. I was unable to see the images on my end, so that was very frustrating for me. But I will repost them as soon as I get chance. Thursday, July 30, 7:30am

4 thoughts on “Day 7: Ulan Ude (Russian Border) to Mariinsk via Irkutsk”

  1. Hey Vickie,What an adventure!!! Just wanted to let you know that I am going dark at noon today!! ;-DFamily is arriving and I will be not checking email or WORKING from noon today until 1sh Monday.I am soooooooooooo excited! Imagine if I got to have 80 days ;-DAnyway, I will pick you your posts next week when I get back online.BTW: If you don’t have internet, how are you able to post the texts that you are posting? Or do you post them when you get to a station?Loving reading all…hugs, p

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