Trans-Siberian sensations

This item appears on page 31 of the May 2008 issue.

What can you see through the woods but for the trees? On my May ’07 Trans-Siberian Railroad trip I saw plenty.

I saw the different shades and hues of the forest trees, the pristine crispness of the trees and tundra, and the majestic snowcapped mountains in the far background.

I saw the enormity of it all, the huge expanse and vastness, the isolation and remoteness. I saw the loneliness and solitude it offered. The raw beauty of its nature, its ruggedness, and its calmness.

I saw its streams and lakes — and was totally taken in. The awe-inspiring landscape that I wish I could have captured in its length and breadth. It was a dream.

While I jumped from one side of the train to the other to see the views of Lake Baikal as we turned the bends, I was hypnotized by it all. There was no right or wrong side of the tracks.

There were villages along the way, the homes with barn-like roofs, the people with their efficient lifestyles surviving in a harsh environment. It was a wonder to see how they do it!

Each home had a backyard vegetable garden, a tool shed, a water well, an outhouse, a smokehouse, a sauna, hothouses — everything you need. As well, they each had a chicken coop or duck coop, some had rabbit hutches, others a few goats or sheep, a cow or a pigpen. I guess they barter.

All the homes had stacks and stacks of wood for their fireplaces. Siberia: the way it was is the way it is!

On the train, a lady walked from car to car selling food. I snacked on a hot steaming bun of a golden color and with a dark brown top. When I took my first bite deep into it, I tasted its softness and found a hot, rich, creamy center of mashed potatoes. Wow, I just had a Russian knish!


New York, NY