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Trans-Siberian Railway

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I'm planning a trip on the Trans-Siberain Railway leaving from Beijing and ending in Moscow/St. Petersberg. Just looking for anyone who has made this journey or could offer any general advice.

Are there any must see stops/places along the way?

Any food I should try or avoid?

Traveling advice while aboard the train?

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!

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    As no one else has come forward, I'll offer what little help I can:

    Must-see stops?

    Stopping is a problem. At least, stopping isn't a problem, but getting back on the train is. This can most easily be accomplished at Ulaan Baatar perhaps, if you take the Trans-Mongolian route. There are only two trains a week, however, one via each route, until they join up (west of Lake Baikal?). So you'd be faced with a long wait, and the difficulty of getting tickets. There's an extra train on Satrudays which just runs Beijing to Ulaan Baatar. The other option is to take local trains for shorter hops. But I think other than scenery around Lake Baikal its pretty desperate. Novosibirsk I remember as being one of the most desolate and beaten up cities I'd ever seen, and that was coming from China 15 years ago.

    Any food I should try or avoid?

    I took part of the route a second time two years ago, and I noted the same as the first time--a long menu with very little actually available, but that included excellent borscht. In general (a bit sweeping, this, I admit) you don't travel to Russia for the food, even today. China is worth visiting just to eat, but not what you get on the trains. There's a Chinese dining car as far as the Mongolian border, a Mongolian one across Mongolia, and a Russian one from there on. If you go the longer Trans-Manchurian route then the switch is directly from a Chinese to a Russian dining car.

    On board?

    Take plenty to read, but expect to spend much of your time chatting to other people on the train. The scenery after you enter Russian and leave Baikal is effectively four days of pine trees and silver birch, and the odd cottage.

    I'd happily do the trip again if I had time, however.

    Peter N-H
    http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html

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