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Fear and Loathing on the Trans-Siberian Train - 1982
"AQUALUNGS IN RUSSIA ?"
All ABOARD !
Next stop ... who knows ?
undertaking a twelve day continuous journey you just never know where you might end up
This is an open letter to all my friends who've been wondering, what's happened to HIRAM ? Its been a long time since we've heard from him, why doesn't he write ?
Well, I've got lots of excuses but none of them with any real substance, Although I would like to claim that I have been pretty busy. But how could that be when I don't even have a job ? Believe it or not, being a professional aqualung is more work than just being an Amateur of the game. Someday I must really retire and take up something more relaxed, like a real job. That would be something new at least and I seem to like doing something new all the time, for what reason I don't know. If its possible, try it, why not.
So, that brings me to here and now. And where is here and now ? It is Wednesday, about noon time and the train is entering the Ural Mountains.
It is most convienent to reckon position during this trip in terms of kilometers from the starting point, Moscow. At the present moment it is about 1,600 Km (1000 miles) since the start on Tuesday morning at 10 AM from the Jaroslavl train station in Moscow. Also position could be counted as time from the start but that becomes cumbersome after a few days and a few time zone changes. Whereas the kilometers will count steadily upward until about 13,000 (~8000 mi) the time is some 12 days with nine time zone changes. Of course one could also talk in terms of geographical position bt then you lose any kind of reference point unless you're following it on a MAP. And that is also complicated by the names of the places, they are different depending upon what language your discussinig. I tend to think of a place as having the name that the local inhabitants call it. After all, they live there, so they should know. And so the name is how they write it in their local language. For example, the next stop later this afternoon is a town called СВЕРДЛОВСК. In english when we make an attempt to transliterate the letters we come up with the name as SVERDLOVSK. How you pronounce that I'm not sure, but it should be something like it would sound in the original. In terms of the other specifications it is simply, KM 1818 (~1120 miles) the time will be 15:16 Moscow time 2nd day, or 17:17 local time, Wednesday, or approximately 61° East Longitude, 56° North Latitude.
The longitude, by the way, puts me exactly 180° from California so in that respect I am 1/2 the way around the world from Stratford, FRESNO. It is directly north from here over the North Pole, and therefore I am directly north of Stratford. The latitude puts me about equal with Copenhagn Denmark, or Edmonton, Alberta.
The next stop is also just past the dividing line of EUROPE and ASIA. I am often telling people that I have spent aobut two years in EUROPE, going everywhere in it, but in just the past 3 days I have crossed the largest part of EUROPE and it is all just RUSSIA. So in effect I have only seen a small bit of Europe. Russia is a frustrating point in terms of travel and visiting places, it is the largest country in the world, with a million things to see and do here, but for the ordinary traveller it is almost all OFF LIMITS. Only by spending large amounts of money, would it be possible to even begin to see some of this country. As it is, I am limited to a passing glimpse through a train window. But thats fascinating in itself, the passing glimpse lasts nine days.
You may have noticed I have used different numbers of days for this trip. Its because I'm talking about different parts of the one complete journey. I want to tell you all about how to do this trip, just in case anyone happens to have a few months free and a lot of bucks. Its actually simple but to explain it makes it sound complicated. Perhaps a starting point would be the timetable, so... Trans-Siberian train schedule, summer 1982
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