After 4 long days of waiting, we woke up to the white stuff at last. Not much of it maybe, but enough to cover most of the ground.
The towns have also degraded a bit. Its actually kind of strange – all the houses are brightly coloured, but nearly all of them are made of wood and look like a strong wind would blow them down (when a building is made of brick, it stands out like a sore thumb – though not as much as the churches). Yet this is the building of choice for mountainous Russia so clearly there must be more to them than I’m seeing.
Sadly, the snow didn’t increase, and we were starting to accept that maybe, just maybe, we weren’t going to be arriving to a snowy Lake Baikal. It was a bitter pill, but one we’d been suspecting – Russia is at the start of a very warm winter.
For the final night on our long term stint, we’d decided to go to the dining cart and have a proper meal for once. This plan was scuppered when the staff brought us meal no. 5 in the evening. We still went, but it was more for vodka shorts (for them) and crisp/nut snack food (for me) rather than an actual meal, before calling it a night. The train runs on Moscow time the whole way through, but we’d been having to set our watches to the actual time – as such, the train would be at Irktuusk around 4.30 in the morning on train time, but for us it would be closer to 9.30. (time management can be a nightmare on these trains – thank god I was with a group or I would have failed miserably).
Sadly, the train had one last little surprise for us that last night. I honestly thought I had adapted to the train way of life. Food was on a schedule, the toilet was a little bit nauseating, and there was generally just enough room not to want to kill each other so long as nobody drank too much. However, the train had decided our tolerance was clearly not strained enough, because as the temperature outside dwindled, the temperature in our cabins skyrocketed.
The temperature in the corridor said 23 degrees – it had to be at least 30 in our cabins. It was an unbearable, unrelenting heat that drove all 8 of us into madness. After 2 hours of twisting, turning, knocking off blankets and changing positions, we all as one seemed to realise it just wasn’t happening, and fled to the general coolness of the corridor. It was very frustrating, because I was tired. Desperately so – but I just couldn’t sleep in what was quickly becoming a sauna with no way to cool down. When we finally walked back in to endure it, we kept the door open and all lay down with our heads as close to the slightly cooler air as possible.
At least we’re off the train and in Irktusk tomorrow.