‘The Bitch’ of the TranSiberian Express

One of the traditional TranSiberian steam engines…

I apologize in advance… I don’t normally talk about anyone in such a derogatory way, especially women, but this person deserves it and it’s a catharsis for me. Words can’t express just how horrible this person was. Normal service will soon be resumed. xXx

I decided to chill out at the hostel for the remaining couple of days before my train, the effort in sorting the bike out for shipping had set off my already aching ribs. I think I had an uncomplicated rib fracture that was now aggravated and extremely painful. I necked the remainder of my painkillers and then set out to get some Russian drugs, which turned out to be so strong that they are banned in the USA because they were being used to get high. I was on one tablet twice a day and no sooner had I took the first pill did I start to feel better. It was only a 5-10 minute walk to the station but as it was so late and I had a few bags I decided to get a taxi. I arrived with plenty of time to spare and just as I got onto the platform the train arrived. I whipped out my ticket in a chirpy mood and began to board my carriage. To get on board you have to climb up a ladder with three or four steps, so I chucked my bags onto the train and got ready to board when the attendant cut in front me and who was then confronted by my bags. Muttering expletives under her breath she climbed aboard with me close behind.

My trai pulling into the station at Irkutsk… bit blurry, but it was like 0230am!

Aware that it was late, or early (0230hrs), I tried my hardest be quiet but the impatient attendant was waiting for me at my cabin, shushing me with every hobbling step that I took and beckoning me to hurry up. ‘WTF woman? It’s either fast and noisy or slow and quiet, make up your mind, I can’t do both, you could, of course, help me with my bags, that might speed things up’. Of course I didn’t say that, I’m English don’t you know, but if she could read minds… As I reach the cabin she ushers me inside where I see a mother with a baby fast asleep on one of the bottom bunks. The attendant then points to the other bottom bunk indicating it’s mine but the mum’s bags were in the way. No problem, I thought, I can wait while she moves them, but the attendant, whom I’m liking less with every passing minute, is badgering me to get in, but how the hell can I, the mother and her bags are in the way. As a space is made I move inside but I’m apparently not quiet enough, despite my best efforts and I now have both women shushing me. This is a fucking train right, not a nursery, some noise is to be expected is it not, and surely the train itself makes more noise than I’m supposedly making? I hope I don’t have the mother and baby for the whole trip to Moscow, that’s would be a disaster: a screaming baby and shitty nappies for three days and three nights. I stow my luggage and make polite with the mum establishing that she is in fact getting off at the next stop. I settle down for the night but am unable to sleep. When I do wake, I discover that I now have the cabin to myself. I remain the only occupant for the best part of the next day and I wonder if I’ll have the cabin to myself the whole way. I pass the time watching a couple of movies on my computer, which completely drains the battery, but as I’d read that the TranSiberian trains have sockets for charging I was optimistic. However, this cabin did not have a single socket, but there were several sockets in the corridor.

My carriage… notice how high up it is from the platform.

I plug in my netbook and take my seat. It’s charging for 5 minutes when Miss impatience herself struts up to me, rips the plug from the socket, throws it at me and says something in Russian. WTF? I plug back in and her colleague, Anya, returns to try and explain that the sockets are just for phones! Why?, I ask, incredulously, what possible reason can there be? I get no explanation, so I follow her up the carriage to try and reason, and if necessary to plead with her. Nope, it’s just some arbitrary, bullshit rule, with no rhyme or reason whatsoever. A couple of Russians on the train sympathise with me and can see that she was is on a power trip and being on my side JayJay, tried to reason with, her, whom I shall now refer to as ‘the bitch’, but without success. The funny thing is I could swear I heard him say “mission impossible’… I would love to have known in what context this was said. I could have taken  this bullshit rule, regardless of how irrational it was, if she hadn’t been so fucking rude, as it stands it was taking all my effort and restraint not to punch ‘the bitch’ in the face.

My home for 3 days and 3 nights

I tried on two or three occasions that day to try and sneak a charge but each time I would get caught and have to remove it. I even tried to charge it under the pretence that I needed to charge my IPhone via the computer, but apparently, she’s not quite as dumb as she looks. I return to my carriage and am grateful that my IPod is fully loaded with music and audiobooks. It’s not so bad, I soon have guests, including one very fit nineteen year old air hostess with skimpy shorts and a smoking hot body, so at least I had someone to chat with. The following day ‘the bitch’ is not to be seen and the other attendant Anya is on duty, so I try and persuade her to let me use the sockets in the first class carriage (I’m in second class) but, whilst she initially seemed receptive she eventually said no. I got the strong sense that it was because ‘the bitch’ was in the adjacent cabin. I told her I would be very quiet, I even offered her some bribe money but she politely refused, I was close but no cigar. Later that day, my Russian compadre, who had very quiet, got up and went to charge his netbook. Twenty minutes passed and he had not returned. Bugger this, I’m taking my netbook out too. I managed to get enough time to get my battery up to 50%, which allowed me to load up some new audio books and movies to my IPhone, just in case. I was doing well snatching short bursts of charge; the best was early one morning when no one was around, I hid my netbook behind the window blind whist I sat in my cabin. Anya walked past it at least twice and looked directly at it, she must have known I was up to no good and I think she was turning a blind eye. Anya, was actually quite nice, we chatted and I decided she was a decent person, albeit in the shadow of ‘the bitch’.

At most stops you could get off and buy some nosebag…

As petty and immature as it sounds, I kind of had the last laugh; not only did I leave the train, with a pretty decent charge on my netbook, but I even out-bitched ‘the bitch’. It was my last day on the train and we would soon be arriving in Moscow. Anya and ‘the bitch’ accosted me in the corridor, now what, was my immediate thought, I want as little interaction with these girls as possible, they don’t deserve even a single moment of my time. They wanted me to buy a lottery ticket that was linked to my train ticket, it only cost a couple of quid but the prize was quite substantial. I’m not a gambling man and I can think of better things to spend my hard earned cash on, plus I’m not naïve enough to think that I have a bat in hells chance of winning. However, ‘the bitch’ made it abundantly clear that she was desperate for me to buy a ticket. The tables were turned, I had something she wanted and to get it she turned on her femininity and her sexuality to try to charm me. It really was a pitiful site and I had come to despise this woman, to me she was a complete waste of a human skin and I would never succumb to her pathetic and feeble attempts to butter me up. We have a saying in England: ‘I wouldn’t piss on her if she was on fire’… I wish I knew the Russian translation at the time, just like I wished she would spontaneously burst into flames so I could put the saying to the test. So I played her like a fiddle for the next twenty minutes… letting her think that I was going to buy this lousy lottery. When I was bored of toying with her and when I knew I had convinced her that I was indeed going to cough up, I gave her the metaphorical middle finger and returned to my cabin smug and satisfied that I’d owned ‘the bitch’s.

To say the amenities are basic is an understatement, but at least they have a seat and not a squatting hole. When you flush, using the pedal, it goes straight down onto the tracks… they must stink!

Pretty decent documentary, albeit a bit old now, about the TranSiberian Railway (Part 1 of 3)

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