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[transcribed 2002-09-29, Santa Cruz, CA. There is another notebook to go along with this diary that describes the trip from an organizational point of view. It also has some observations about the trip. It is a daunting task to think about transcribing it since it has a lot of cyrillic characters for the place names and those are slow to enter in my primative entry mode here.]
Sonntag [German daily diary book] 08 August 1982 - Budapest, Hungary
Trying to get up slowly, have a shower but it is hot & muggy & become sweaty. A slow breakfast, reading all the time, [reading Grapes of Wrath] continue to read all day long. Lazily pack up, head on down to the station after noon. Sit by the lockers for an hour or so, but no one comes, so go upstairs & there is no waiting line to check luggage so get rid of the pack, go out looking for food. Pretty scarce on late Sunday afternoon but find a chicken lunch, makes my stomach hurt, it did after Breakfast too. Perhaps it was the mold I found growing in the water bottles yesterday. I cleaned them with boiling water the best I could. Sat in a Cafe & had a real pilsner beer while reading, continue to read right up to when the train comes in. Get some last chocolate bars with the rest of my Forints, Left on time at 20:05 [CET = Central European time == GMT+2 in the summer], but by the time of the border already 30 minutes late.
Montag 09 August 1982 - Hungary - USSR border
At the border, the clock moves ahead two hours. No problems with any of the checks, but I & some others (Brazilians) must go and have our money counted. They must have had a thousand dollars or much more each. Thought I was going to be late for the train, but it left 40 minutes late. My two roommates are a Russian man & his wife, no communication possible. Also the wagon steward lady is a bit perplexed about me. There was a customs form to fill out, I tried to interpret it a bit with the dictionary, but it didn't work really. She finished it for me. I should have tried to change money there at the border, I think it may have been possible, but I was anxious to get back to the train which was a couple hundred meters past the station. They took a long time making up the train. & we didn't have to change cars, I thought the tracks were smaller here ? [Unbeknownst to me, the train had been lifted off of its european wheels, and a new set of russian wheels with the smaller size had been rolled under and installed on the train. Quite an interesting trick to change all the wheels on the train.] It turns out I should have changed money here. The train continues to lose time, 30 minutes late at noon, an hour 10 minutes at sunset at 9 PM in Kiev. The countryside continues just rolling farmland, take a couple of pictures. Sleep most of the night try to check the time in the middle of the night at the stops but its too dark & I'm too tired. [I'm worried about changing money because I don't actually have any stops anywhere to do that and if I cross the country for 9 days without any evidence of changing money it might raise the suspicion of what was I doing for money all this time. Most of the russian roubles I'm going to use for this trip I purchased in the banks in West Berlin where they were four times cheaper than the official exchange rate here. I entered the country with these illegal roubles taped to the bottom of my feet in case I was inspected down to removing my shoes !]
Dienstag 10 August 1982 Moscow USSR
Sunrise around 6 AM outside of Moscow somewhere. The train is going pretty slow, it stops at the station [Kiev station] at 9 AM, [1h45m late] no change place, a man gives me 10 kopecks [for the subway], I get on a subway, no time to go by Intourist, [I was supposed to stop at the Intourist office to arrange a hotel room in Chabarovsk since that had fallen through in my planning, and also to arrange a seat reservation on the Trans-Siberian train.] find the train [The Trans-Siberian at the Jaroslavl station] at 09:30 [scheduled depart time: 10:00 - 1/2 hour to spare], no change place at the station, try a couple of doors to get on, finally get the right one, put into a compartment with a Danish couple starting a two year trip, the usual talking and stories. The countryside rolls by. It continues to be flat farmland. Take a walk up and down the train. There are three cars of third class, russians only allowed there. Otherwise not much happening. Cross the Volga river for the last time. Sunset about 8:30, and a long dusk, a glow on the northern horizon until 11:30 at least. See some stars come out, the north star is pretty high. By late afternoon it is pretty cool, it gets cold in the night. We get a russian kid as a 4th at one of the stops, but it doesn't work to try & talk to him. It gets pretty cold in the night.
Mittwoch 11 August 1982 Perm -> Sverdlovsk USSR
Got up about 7:30 and stopping at Perm at 8:30 for 20 minutes. I ask about a bank, it's necessary to go downtown, no time for that. I pick up a small pin on badge for 20 kopeck with Lenin and a factory. It is quite cool in the morning there. No stops today until 3 PM in Sverdlovsk, I start writing in the other notebook. And yesterday a letter to Mom & all. Spent a lot of the day talking to the roommates. Take a couple of pictures, finish a roll. The Ural mountains are no big deal, pretty much flat on the top, not much more than the Coalinga hills, or like that. I should be writing more, but I spend too much time talking. The train leaves late from СВЕРДМОВСК even though it got there on time. Only 12 min late. Had dinner but almost missed dinner time, they run on local time, 9 to 9, and this evening was already 3 hours from Moscow. [All the train schedule times are in Moscow time for the length of the trip. The clocks in all the stations are set to Moscow time.] So got what was left & we think they charged us too much. At leaving ТЮМНЬ we are 50 min late. Meet the French girl who is travelling alone.
Donnerstag 12 August 1982 Omsk -> Novosibirsk USSR
Sunset was about 7:40, went to sleep late and set the alarm to wake up for the stop in ОМСК (OMSK). Sunrise was early but I was sleeping & its cloudy too. Just as we're stopping in ОМСК I wake up. The train had made up the lost time since yesterday. I go outside, check with the steward about the time, 35 minutes. I find some postcards of ОМСК, and a German & French paper but they are old. I went out front of the station, took a picture of the area there and of the front of the station. It was 8 AM local time so it was a city waking up [lots of people arriving at the train station and catching busses to go to work.]. Back by the train I take a picture of it, and one of the two women cutting grass there & as I'm walking back to my wagon, a man stops me & makes me take the film out, he wants to unroll it, but I had rolled it in, so I just give it to him. I had only started it yesterday so I wasn't losing much. But it brings on the paranoia which I don't want. [You are not supposed to photograph the train tracks or the train stations.] Then I find out that it is a forbidden city, just great. [off limits to foreigners] Today was a long day. The barriers between the other travellers has broken down and we all had to talk. There are 2 Japanese going home. One has been away 2 1/2 years working/travelling from Berlin, the 2nd studying Russian in Moscow. 3 French Girls together, a single french girl with 6 weeks vacation, A french kid on some vacation, A German couple. In Novosiberisk a small group from trailfinders from London got on, I guess we will meet them later. And there was a Russian kid from Irkutsk who spoke good English, French, German so we all talked to him very late about everything. [This russian kid was pretty incredible. When I first talked to him, I guessed he was from the states since his english sounded like standard american english. It turned out he learned his accent from the Voice of America station from Delano California !] Had to get to bed by 21:30 (which is very late local time) [I think I must be talking in terms of Moscow time unless I mention local time. I know I kept my watch on Moscow time since that was the reference for the train schedule that I was following.]
Fritag 13 August 1982 Krasnojarsk -> Taischet USSR
In order to get up at 0400 for the morning (8 AM) stop in Krasnojarsk and to see the Yenisee River, I found some nice baked goods in the Station. And yesterday we got a new Russian guy in our compartment, the lady moved to another place I think so she could have someone to talk to. So this morning I try to talk to Sergie. He knows a bit of english (5 years in school) and German (8 years) so it is possible [I can speak German at this time from my experience in Europe 1979-1982] but difficult. There is so much to talk about with everyone, there is not enough time. The day gets spent mostly talking, wrote for a while. And talked on & on about just everything. At each 10 min or 15 min stop I was out and running around seeing what there was to see, but not taking any pictures. The last station of the evening, ЗИМА, was nice & small, much different than the big places. Got to bed in order to get some sleep as the morning stop was Irkutsk. I awoke before my alarm at about 04:45 local time, it is dark still. About 05:08 the train stops. I went running back and found Igor. We go up to our car. The goodbye and he is off. See other notes. [This russian kid, Igor, the language genius, had a fascinating story. He had been in college in Moscow for language studies and was coming to an end of that. It was now time for his military service and he was worried that he was going to be sent to Afganistan. At the train stop Irkutsk, his home town, as he was saying his goodbyes to us foreigners that he had become very friendly with, he was approached by police to be questioned about why he was taking with us and why he might know us. It was very awkward since he appeared to be getting into trouble because he knew us. He was escorted away by the authorities.] Tried to sleep a bit as it was still dark, but no luck. So I get up and find one of the compartments open and all the people there, talking about Igor. We're waiting for lake Baikal to show up. It finally does and its nice to see a change of scenery. The first tunnels. Mountains around the lake. But it is heavy overcast so it is not the best weather possible. [The lake is immense. Spent most of the day going along a small part of one side of it. ]
Samstag 14 August 1982 Irkutsk -> Karymskoje USSR
Threw a 5 kpc in the lake, [the train is that close at times] as the lady from the circus told me to do. So I'm sure to come back again. Took a few pictures. I forgot to write this today & I don't remember much. I was getting very tired and kind of punch drunk. Telling Chris & Hanna all kinds of crazy things. A couple of stops, always out and about. Ulan Ude. Went to dinner with Chris & Johannes & Gudrun, talked with Johannes trying to pin him down about his ideas & beliefs. He has some things to learn yet, in my opinion at least. I think he thinks he's got it all right. I think though that my randomness was confusing him. I went to bed pretty early, but only slept about 2 hours, then woke up completely. So I get out & find the trailfinders group partying. Drinking and singing. I join in. Patrick from Ireland, Richard, Chris Lotti, Erin and I don't know who all. [I remember they were drinking some very strange Irish cream yellow liquor] But it ended not long after that. There was nothing happening on the train. It was late but I wasn't tired. So I took a shower in the bathroom. The moon was rising in a nice crystal clear night, the stars was out, it was beautiful. I got down to writing and wrote until they turned the lights out as it was becoming light.
Sonntag 15 August 1982 Tschernyschevsk -> Jerofei Pavlovitsch USSR
Slept for about 4 hours from the time they turned the lights out as it was getting light, but not light enough anymore for me to write. The sun was coming up about 7 AM local time which is 1 AM Moscow. So it was about 10 AM local as I awoke for the final time. I went to breakfast in the 2nd class car, nice fried eggs and good coffee. Was there with Guillaume and a Russian kid going to Vladivostok, an engineering student. Talk with Guillaume about the Happenings on the train. Then I get down to writing postcards. The scenery today is very nice, took a bunch of pictures and some people too. [rare for me to photograph people] Got a lot of cards written, but not all. The sun was out all day, completely clear and nice and warm at the stops. It was very pleasant. But it is coming to an end. Played dominoes with Sergie and so I get some practice counting. [in russian I guess] I go to dinner at about 6:30, ate with the two Japanese and the French girl (Helen) and Guillaume and the Danish couple. (a 2nd Christian). Talk about Japan some. After dinner I sit down with Patrick and the old English couple, they are nice. Talk about L.A. 84, Eclipse, political systems, experiences, and on and on. A bit of Vodka, go talk with Johannes and Gudren. Some Japanese tea. Check the schedules from Peking to Hong Kong, No problem. An evening stop in СКОВОРОДИНО ;. Walk between the trains. Talk with Sergie until late. Very interesting.
Montag 16 August 1982 Schimanovsk -> Chabarovsk USSR
I got up early for the first stop of the day, no one else was up except Christian. Then I ran into Mildred on her way to a coffee but it was only 8 AM local time, so we waited and talked. Then another stop was coming up I think, but at any rate we then went to Breakfast with Chris & Helen. Mildred didn't even have but an egg and hot water for the coffee she had with her, but she paid for all anyway. I asked her about the view of the Future with her time perspective [Mildred is 77 years old] and she sees it as being in a time as was before other wars. Wrote some more postcards, sat down and talked with everyone at different times. The stops were all interesting, very little towns. Lots of soldiers everywhere and police, etc. The scenery changed again, see pictures, the weather was hot. And then the train began to have delays due to work on the track. 1 hour, then 1 1/2 hours, 1h 50 min, 1h 40 min, arrived at 19:30 [2 hours late] (02:30 local time the 17th). Showed Erin how to run the cube. [I had been playing with Rubiks cube for several months. Knew how to do it by now.] Talked and talked with just everyone about everything. A drink with Patrick, talk about California. He is a school teacher, speaks Gaelic also. Then it got late, it was confusing where we were. I was trying to figure it out but was too busy. Oh yes and there was the stop not on any list and I was extremely upset. As it got late, people tried to sleep, but Chris, Hannah, Patrick, Johannes & Gudren so we all sat in the hallway & talked. The German Groups had their party. I tried to walk the train but only got to 4 cars. Then it was 40 minutes to go and everyone was up. There was an oil refinery that made an eerie glow on the sky from its fire. Got there, [arrived in Chabarovsk] I said goodby to the wagon girls, gave to two of my favorites the Sarajevo pins. They said that they loved me, they could say in English, "I love you," thats crazy.
Dienstag 17 August 1982 Chabarovsk -> Tizookeanskya, port of Nachodka USSR
[the diary runs on from the 16th to the 17th - it is one long 48 hour day. This stop is tricky because I'm supposed to have a hotel room like all the other travellers, but that reservation fell through at the last moment before I left Budapest. So I'm not sure what I'm going to do in this town as we arrive in the early AM local time. I haven't slept properly in days.] I walked into the waiting room. Found a coffee and eggs and bread, I had forgotten to eat dinner on the train. Almost a policeman was going to question me but didn't. The strange guy from the train I was sure was following me. I went out front to the cool air, sat on the pack and read for a while "The American War Machine." [I guess this was some russian "propaganda" I had picked up.] I was just another Aqualung out there. Two drunks came to me to try to change money. An old drunk lady made a funny scene. I kept wondering what the police were going to do, but nothing to me or to the drunks, <- they would run away. It would have been OK to lay down and sleep I think. The park in front of the station was full of Lungs [drunks and homeless] as I walked downtown in the morning. Left the pack in the locker # 991 combination Ж 8 17. Walked downtown trying to find the hotel, [where all the other travellers had gone for the night] people were confused by my question, but I eventually found it, and there was pancakes ! for breakfast, great, and good coffee. Got this book up to date and then went & washed up in the bathroom and then began the hassle with Intourist about the ticket & changing money. They were sure surprised I was alone. Wanted to keep my ticket until 4 PM, [local time] but I got her to give it to me right wawy. Then they didn't want to change money, but they did. [This satisified the requirement that I could show evidence of having changed and therefore spent money while crossing the USSR for nine days. I think I cashed about $20. Up to this point I had spent about $17 of the black market roubles the whole time. Pretty good for a nine day trip.] So I got everything & then back downtown. The library I wanted to visit was closed. I'm falling asleep as I write, it is strange. So I went on to the Post, got 30 more stamps in addition to the five from morning. Got those on. Visited the new museum ...
I fell asleep there in the middle of that last sentence, Cont. Aug 18 [the 17th entry continued Aug 18]
I was very tired, as I look at that last sentence I see the words are mixed up in it. I didn't go to any museum. So I walked down the main street, Marx. Looking in the various shops. I saw water skis in one place. I came on to the big square. I made some pictures there & sat down for awhile. Then I saw the Tour bus with the trailfinders group & Christian & Helen. They were having a Tour of town & it wasn't too exciting. They said Erin had gone to the beach, so I wanted to catch her to say goodby & I wanted to go to the beach anyway, so I headed down there. It was hot & humid. A kid gave me an Olympics Badge. Lots of people at the beach. I took off my shoes & shirt and got my feet wet, the new boots really hurt the feet, made a picture, sat in the sun a while, then in the shade. I felt like I was watched. Then back up to the hotel, found Hans & Brian & Richard, had a lousy beer. Walked downtown with them to see the bookstore. Then they went back to the hotel. I found dinner in a real sit down restaurant, but it was a bit awkward with only Russians, we didn't talk & thats hard to share a table with someone who doesn't talk. Then I waited for the Liquor store to open. But I didn't get anything. It was interesting. [The liquor store was a madhouse. Its open hours was only about 90 minutes in the evening after 5 PM. The workers on their way home would stop at the store to get vodka. There was nothing on the shelves. Everyone stood at the counter in a mob yelling at the counter girls who once in a while would go in the back and bring out another bottle which would be grabbed by the mob and money thrown on the counter. It was a crazy scene.] Hopped on a tram to the statin, and found the Intourist waiting with air conditioning and everything. Then started to hear everyone's stories. [The last leg of the train trip is on a special train that leaves at night to the port of Nachodka to catch the russian ferry boat to Japan which is actually a continuation of the train trip itself. This last leg of the train trip is done at night to avoid the ability to see anything of the russian-china border. It is the final night on the train and thus it is a big drunken party.]
There was a lot going on. We all got on the train and continued to talk until late. I explored the train. From the end, 3 cars, 2nd class of Russian People. 2 cars tourists, the Restaurant, an amazing old first class car [wonderful wood interior], then ours, and about 3 more cars in Front. I was too late for dinner, but I was having so much fun, and I was a bit crazy from no sleep. But about 11 I slept & woke up to the alarm at 6, August 18th.
Mittwock 18 August 1982 depart port of Nachodka USSR on ferry to Yokohama
and had a shower in the 1st class car, there were showers in the Toilet. Got ready, Had the tour groups breakfast at 8 AM, caviar & meat & cheese, just great, and at 2 Rbl 15, it was the most expensive meal I had. [I think this was about 50¢ with my black market roubles] And then going through customs, I was 1st into the bank, big problem because I didn't have a STATE BANK receipt, only the Intourist & it was no good. I caused a big commotion. But finally I had to have Chris change it with his. [how did that work ?] Then a long wait for baggage check. And on to the Boat, it is very nice. Shortly after leaving there was lunch, Then I slept 2 hours, tea time, then a movie, about Cotton & ESTONIA. Then a walk & talk with Letti, she is nice. Then dinner. Heard the Dance band a bit, no action in the bar, a walk around the deck, and to bed.
Donnerstag 19 August 2002 aboard Russian ferry to Yokohama
I got up at 6:00 but it wasn't early enough to catch the good part of the sunrise. After a shower, up on deck in the fresh Air. Waiting around for breakfast, afterwards waited by the barber, a while but too slow. In the dance hall, find a coffee & talk to a Swiss kid about politics, Israel, Money, etc ... The bridge tour was delayed due to Fog. I washed my pants. The movies were on, I kind of slept during them. Gave Patrick the Grapes of Wrath book. He bought me a drink. Lunchtime came around, had lots to eat and excellent chocolate Ice cream. The afternoon got wasted away, the bridge tour at 3 PM, not much to see. Then Tea Time And more time wasting. Then dinner, vodka, caviar, wine. Then the floor show by the crew members, then hit the bar, about 5 or 6 vodkas up till 1 AM but really not much effect. Was with the two Danish couples till the bar closed, had to put Mildred to bed. She was partying for sure. A bit of fresh Air then hit the SACK.
Freitag 20 August 2002 arriving Yokohama, Japan
Set the Alarm for 5:45 but didn't hear it. It is getting weak, but woke up at 6:20, snoozed till 7, took a shower, walk the deck, write this book. Have a big breakfast. Wash my clothes, pack the pack. Last time talk to people, not much to say. Got the passport back. Fill out papers. Up on deck, in the hot humid sun, watch the bay unfold lots of Little fishing boats in the way. Can't stay on deck, it is too hot & uncomfortable. And then a nice Lunch for the 2nd day in a row ! get extra ice cream. I rest a bit, then the boat is arriving. Passport checks at about 3 PM and about 4:30 off the boat & waved right through customs. Then I try to organize the group & get the hostels arranged, it isn't easy with so many of them changing their minds and all. But finally about 5:30 we are off on our seperate ways and branching off underway. Guilleum, Chris, Hanna & I get to the Ichigawa hostel. No problem checking in. Have the hostel dinner for 600, very good but after being used to the boat meals, I have a big appetite. Then a Japanese bath & soak in the hot tub, its very relaxing. Almost fall asleep but stay up awhile to get some water & write this. It is so very hot.
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