Rail Food

Contemplating stew in the Mongolian dining car. Note the furnishings.

Dec. 5 – Aboard Train 077 to Novosibirsk

The Beijing-Irkutsk journey taught me not to rely on the dining car.

Given how good the fare had been in China, what was served from Beijing to Erlian was abysmal. Small portions of rice and vegetables, pathetic chicken(ish) balls, damp lettuce in lukewarm soy sauce. It was all free to first and second class passengers, but no real effort was made to impress. A surly waitress shooed us out as soon as we finished. There was warm beer if we wanted it (we didn’t). More fun was the barely drinkable Great Wall red wine. We had two bottles – the first numbed our palates for the second. The best part was that the dining car had no corkscrew, and only two glasses. The ever-practical Swiss got their Army knives out, and we were in business using teacups. Of course, the waitress made them pull the corks for all the other diners too. The Swiss asked for tips, but received none.

The Mongolian dining car was a wonder of carved wood walls and furnishings. The food was decent, but scandalously priced if paying in U.S. dollars – I had not bothered to get Mongolian money since I was just passing through the country.

Noodles and tea. Just don't spill any on the customs declarations!

But I was pleased with the supplies I had brought along. Enough for the distance, not too much to be an encumbrance. So for the journey to Novosibirsk, I have; tea, oatmeal, trail mix, chocolate, instant noodles, salami, Maasdam cheese, and apples. We’ll see how soon the Vodka starts to flow. Wish me luck!

5 Responses to Rail Food

  1. Tu avais l’air plus inspiré en regardant le Mongolian hot pot à YangFang :)
    Lire ton blogue c’est de la torture. Après une semaine où j’ai fait partie de ton périple à Shanghai et Pékin, c’est dur de savoir que je ne vais pas pu goûter le desser maison à Irkutsk ni longer le lac en train.

  2. I close the compartment door, sit down, put my feet up and look through my virtual train window, joining you in your exciting travel on the Transsiberian every day on my computer. Can’t believe you are doing this trip without Swiss army knife. Join the crowd, stories about the train food are legends. I sure would have liked to share the smoked Omul with you but I would have expected a Vodka with it. Keep going west young man.

  3. Hey Patrick – have you considered compiling your writings into some sort of memoir or novel when you return? You have a gift for writing, which is a skill not many can say they possess. Your style holds the reader’s attention and draws them into the scene with you. I know a couple of authors who could give you some guidance on publishing, if you are interested.

    Happy and safe travels!
    Patricia, Eric, Sophia

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