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Six Great Reasons To Travel On The Trans Siberian Railway

by Contributor on December 12, 2013

We haven’t had a guest post in awhile but I’m excited about today’s. It comes from Phebe of The Travelling Squid and takes us on a relaxing adventure across Siberia…

The decision to take the Trans Siberian Railway can be a tough one, especially if you have an office job. Most people would rather use their annual leave to visit a destination, than spend a full week on the train without modern day conveniences such as a stationary bathroom with hot water.

Russian train from Irkutsk to Moscow Six Great Reasons To Travel On The Trans Siberian Railway

Russian train from Irkutsk to Moscow

But despite the physical discomforts, the journey on the Trans Siberian is worth the time, effort and money. It is about taking life at a slower pace. After all, travelling is not about dashing to as many places as you can, but what matters is the meaning you can derive from each trip.  Here are six great reasons why the Trans Siberian Railway trip should be on the cards when you plan for the next trip. It is perfect for someone who wants to:

1. Marvel at breathtaking scenery.

The Trans Siberian passes through vastly different terrains. From the jagged peaked hills in China, to the snow covered Mongolian plains, to the colourful wooden houses which sit amidst the grand coniferous trees of Siberia, it’s a dream come true for photography buffs. My favourite part was when the train passed through Mongolia. Dogs were pulling a sleigh across the snowy plains, and a couple of hours later, we were cruising along the brownish Mongolian plains set against the bright blue sky.

House on a hill Mongolian plains Six Great Reasons To Travel On The Trans Siberian Railway

2. Relish the adventure of old world travel.

I was born in an era of jet planes and budget carriers. An airplane was always available to take me to the corners of the world, within a day or two. Despite the relative slower speed of train travel compared to air travel, the Trans Siberian did bring back memories of “Around the world in 80 days”. I felt like Phileas Fogg, embarking on an epic journey with a goal in mind. It’s a strange feeling when I set my eyes on St Basil’s Cathedral for the very first time at Moscow’s Red Square. Amid the throngs of tourists that were visiting the same sight, I felt that I was different. It was like the seven-day train journey from Beijing to Russia had finally paid off, and the sight of St Basil’s Cathedral was my prize.

The Trans Siberian stop at Irkutsk Russia Six Great Reasons To Travel On The Trans Siberian Railway

3. Lose track of time.

If you have spent years in your job rushing to meet deadlines, the Trans Siberian is the best place for you to lose track of time. Spanning nine different time zones, it is inevitable that sunset gets later and later (on the Irkutsk to Moscow train). Soon, you will be eating your meals only when your stomach calls for it. The time on your watch becomes confusing. You start to do things as and when you really want to. You throw routines out of the window. You’re on a no-rules holiday.

A Russian Sunset Six Great Reasons To Travel On The Trans Siberian Railway

A Russian sunset

4.  Learn about the way of life of others.

The Trans Siberian is a great place to make friends, especially if you can speak some basic Russian or Chinese. Some Russians and Chinese are friendly and you will get to hear an insider’s perspective of their lives – it is always intriguing. You get to meet people from all walks of life. Kids, mothers, businessmen, students, retirees. Most commuters take an overnight train ride, so there’s a change of people all the time.

A Russian boy we met on the train Six Great Reasons To Travel On The Trans Siberian Railway

A Russian boy we met on the train

5. Get to know your travelling companion(s) inside out.

If you are keen to find out more about your travelling companion, the Trans Siberian Railway journey is a great way to do so. Observe your companion when he is watching a beautiful sunset, and after he has a restless and sleepless night. It is very different. People tend to behave differently when they are hungry, tired or bored.

The Trans Siberian along snow covered plains Six Great Reasons To Travel On The Trans Siberian Railway

The Trans Siberian along snow covered plains

6. Embark on a journey of self discovery.

Just as how the Trans Siberian helps you get to know your travelling companions better, it also offers you an opportunity for self discovery. Personally, I have always prided myself to be a hardened traveller, one who could deal without creature comforts for a week. But it turns out that I wasn’t so “hardened”. After two consecutive days of not bathing, I felt a “psychological” itch on my scalp and yearned for a hot bath. I dreamt of home-cooked food made from a stove, after eating instant noodles and canned fish for four consecutive days.

The Trans Siberian passing by Lake Baikal in Russia Six Great Reasons To Travel On The Trans Siberian Railway

The Trans Siberian passing by Lake Baikal in Russia

In essence, you’ll have more than enough time to do some self-reflection on the Trans Siberian Railway. After talking, reading, eating and taking photos, there is still time. The Trans Siberian gives you the luxury of time, away from the distractions of our modern world. That is if, you’re willing to take up the challenge.

Bio: Phebe is the author of The Travelling Squid, a travel blog filled with tips and anecdotes of her “career of travelling”, which began at a tender age of 19. Despite having been to many “top” destinations around the world, India continues to be Phebe’s favourite place in the world. Phebe has a bad sense of direction but continues to travel, sometimes alone because of her quirky habits and intensely inquisitive mind.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Sophie December 12, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Would love to take the Trans-Sib. Now to persuade the kids…

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Krista December 12, 2013 at 8:05 pm

This is something I have dreamed of doing since I was a little girl enamored with the history of Russia. :-) So beautiful. :-)

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Marcel December 13, 2013 at 9:28 pm

This is definitely one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips.. Would love to do a Trans Siberian one day!

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Heather December 14, 2013 at 10:04 am

I have friends who’ve done this and it just seems so romantic!

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Fred December 17, 2013 at 3:32 pm

I took the train from Moscow to Beijing earlier this year as part of my gap year. Absolutely brilliant. The sheer quantity of land we passed was completely awesome. It’s an experience that will stay with me for a very long time I’m sure.

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Rob@ 1 Day Kenya Tours Safaris December 22, 2013 at 10:14 am

I have heard lots about the Trans-siberia. I would really love to take a stop at lake Baikal if only to see the deepest and most voluminous fresh water lake. The sights must be awesome.

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Ross January 8, 2014 at 6:35 am

Great insight into live on the train. Very high on my list of things to do. I never thought about the effect of the timezones and sunsets could have on you but it makes sense. I

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JB @ sweden road trip January 13, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Very inspiring, been wanting to take this trip for a long while now. This definitely didn’t change that!

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Emma @ Everyday Postcard July 20, 2014 at 1:14 am

I’ve always wanted to take the Trans Siberian but I think I would also discover that I’m not as much of a hardened traveller as I like to think! I spent 24 hours on a train in China no problem but a week is a whole lot longer!

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