Some distances and times

Total distance travelled:
39,893 km / 24,788 mi

Total distance travelled on land:
14,117 km / 8,772 mi

Total distance travelled by air:
25,776 km / 16,016 mi

Longest train ride by distance:
Yekaterinburg to Krasnoyarsk – 2287 km / 1,421 mi

Longest train ride by time:
Yekaterinburg to Krasnoyarsk – 32:23 for 2287 km

Slowest train ride:
Ulan Ude to Ulan Baatar, 28:25 for 657 km – 23.12 km/hr / 14.37 mi/hr

Fastest train:
Maglev from Shanghai to airport – 431 km/hr / 268 mi/hr

Fastest long-distance train:
Tokyo to Osaka, 2:30 for 556km – 222.56 km/hr / 138.29 mi/hr

Longest flight:
Osaka to San Francisco – 8673 km / 5,389 mi

Amy, communications superstar!

So, sitting in the only internet connection in all of Krasnoyarsk (or seemingly so), Amy dove into one of the sites she used extensively for planning this trip: poezda.net. There, she found that there was a train hitting Krasnoyarsk (roughly translated as “ass end of Russia”) in about an hour and a half from then, which could whisk us away from the cultural wasteland that is Krasnoyarsk.

(As a note, someone actually told us that Krasnoyarsk is the cultural centre of Siberia. This leads me to conclude that the person is lying or vastly misinformed, or Siberia has no culture whatsoever. Personally, I find the latter very hard to believe.)

Arriving at the train station, we bolted upstairs to the ticket office and tried to figure out which ticket booth to go to. It took a moment to realize that the four displays showing the lists of trains were for different days. We lined up for the booth selling tickets for … well, yesterday, now.

Actually, not entirely true. Amy stood in line. I went to get the bags we’d put in storage for our 18-ish hour foray into town.

Thus began Amy’s Herculean task: trying to buy train tickets without speaking Russian. Krasnoyarsk is the first place we’ve been where English is more-or-less unknown. The major catch here was to make sure that Amy and I were in the same compartment. (Neither one of us really wants to get stuck in a room with three drunk Russian men, Amy least of all.)

Try and explain the need for that when you don’t know Russian, the clerk doesn’t know English, and our handy phrasebooks don’t cover that scenario.

But Amy did it. A small notebook became a place for certain keywords (written in Russian) and drawings showing the four bunks in a room. The clerk caught on fairly quickly that we didn’t speak Russian, so did her best to try and tell us that there weren’t two bunks in second class — at least not in the same room. (If you’ve ever played charades, you’d probably have done well to decipher what went on.)

I really should have video taped this. Though not nearly as funny as Amy’s experience trying to buy yarn in Kazan, it was an amazingly frustrating thing to watch — I still don’t know how Amy did it. (I doubt I could have taped it, though, since I doubt Russians like having cameras in their ticket areas.)

Finally, after about 10 minutes, we learned that two berths in the same compartment were available — but in First Class. Certainly more money than we would have cared to spend before we left North America. However, the pain we felt in Moscow still lingering, we didn’t want to rot away in a city neither of us had taken a liking to, and the prospect of moving on earlier to Irkutsk just seemed like a far better solution.

Besides, we’ve been keeping it pretty lean with expenditures.

The #10 train is quite nice, and the First Class great if for only one reason: no-one else for us to bother, or to bother us. It’s much more relaxing.

Birch trees -- there are a *lot* of these in Siberia

Amy in the Pectopah (Restaurant) car

So Amy comes to the rescue again, and we’re now safely in Irkutsk. All we need to do is hook up with our homestay guide. This should be interesting, since his email automatically replied saying he was out of town…

A “final” re-pack

The really great thing about leaving a week early to go work in California is that, aside from getting a last chance to feel completely and utterly overwhelmed by work, I have ample opportunity to reconsider my packing strategy without having to ship or ditch stuff in another continent.

So, I repacked. Again.

But this time I have the excuse of four nifty new “layering tees” from Gap. They are brightly colored and weigh less than a tiny ball of yarn. Just the thing for building in some variety without adding any weight. To compensate, I removed my black tank top, which weighed MORE than these four tees! Go figure.

So, here’s the ‘final’ list.

I reserve the right to repack tonight, tomorrow morning, and possibly at the airport tomorrow afternoon. But it’s final for now.

Stuff
antibacterial gel
hand lotion
reading light/mini flashlight
journal & pens
travel folder
sunglasses
DV camcorder, spare battery and charter
10 hours tape electronics
SLR with 28-200m lens, spare batteries
Approx. 60 rolls film, 100-800, colour
lip balm
small first aid kit with dramamine, claritin, advil, pepto (in pill form) and misc.
small laundry kit with detergent and laundry line
Cup O Soup insant soup packets – 8
Nalgene cantene
Starbucks thermos
Peanut butter – 1 small jar
Cutlery kit
Extra ziplock baggies
Girlie stuff (you know what I mean)
GGH yarn for Rebecca wrap top
Koigu for socks
My last project for the BGK book
toilet paper
iPod shuffle with power supply and adapters
snowboard lock misc
4 books (3 guidebooks)
permanent marker
earplugs, eyemask and Tylenol PM
travel towel
3-in-1 by Philosophy – soap, shampoo and conditioner in one
glasses and spare pairs contacts
deoderant
toothpaste & toothbrush
hair goop
sunblock – spf 30
foot lotion – from the Body Shop.
butterfly scarf toiletry kit
razor
watch with alarm and dual time zones
Money belt and Security wallet
traveller’s cheques and US$
Clothes
1 l/s tee shirt
1 s/s tee shirt
4 layering tees
1 l/s tan/green esprit zip shirt/cardigan thingy
loose black yoga pants – Lululemon
zip-off khaki pants
2 bras
Teva’s
Dankso’s
black J Crew swimsuit
Columbia jacket shell
Down jacket – compressed
black/grey wristwarmers
4 pairs socks
5 pairs underwear
long underwear bottoms
tee and shorts for PJs

Packed and ready to roll

Amy tackled this problem a week ago. This time, it’s my turn. I decided not to do it the night before, though, since that’s a bit of a risk.

Here’s everything I’m trying to take:

Geoff's stuff to pack

Detailed as follows:

  • 1 towel
  • 3 shirts
  • 1 pairs zip-off pants
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 1 pair sandals
  • 3 pairs socks
  • 5 pairs undies
  • 1 pair long underwear
  • 1 hat
  • 7 books (5 travel books)
  • 1 deck of cards
  • 1 bottle shampoo
  • 1 bottle conditioner
  • 1 box bandaids
  • 1 toothbrush
  • 1 tube of toothpaste
  • nail clippers
  • 2 bars soap
  • 1 box Contac-C
  • laundry soap
  • dental floss
  • 2 tins mint ginger tea (for nausea)
  • ~80 bags jasmine tea
  • 1 thermos
  • 4 boxes instant soup (condensed to two boxes)
  • 1 Nalgene cantene
  • 1 flashlight
  • 1 Leatherman
  • 1 pocketknife (for the corkscrew)
  • 1 roll duct tape (the non-shiny kind)
  • 1 universal electrical adapter/transformer
  • 6 garbage bags
  • 1 extension cord (in case we need to plug more than one thing in)
  • 1 journal
  • 1 Minolta XGM 35mm SLR camera
  • 1 Minolta X370 35mm SLR camera
  • 1 50mm Minolta MD lens
  • 1 28-80mm Vivitar MD lens
  • 1 80-200mm Vivitar MD lens
  • 1 Vivitar flash
  • 2 polarizing filters
  • 1 red filter
  • 54 rolls of 200 ASA Fuji colour film
  • 11 rolls of 125 ASA Ilford black and white film

The rest, I’m wearing!

So, on my first packing, I got it all in.

First packing

And that’s everything, including my camera-cum-day pack. It can come out as well:

Backpack and daypack

I’m very curious to see how long it takes for it to start lightening up…

To do list almost complete!

I’m almost done my “to do” list. At this point, I can now leave the continent without fear of missing something. But I do want to knock off the two last nasty things for peace of mind and security.

Not really sure if I need the batteries for the X370, though…

  • Mongolian visa
  • 50 rolls 200 ASA film, 10-15 rolls b&w (speed TBD)
  • Get camera back from repair
  • Traveller’s cheques
  • Arrange to have house checked regularly
  • Change emergency call numbers for security system
  • 62mm polarized filter
  • Dig out zip off pants and sandals from storage
  • Buy roll of duct tape
  • Put together first aid kit
  • Photocopy credit cards, passport, visas, and other important documents
  • Get cash in euros, and $US
  • Pay taxes
  • New batteries for X370
  • Timers for the lights in my house
  • Get new deodorant (Amy will appreciate this)
  • Buy universal electrical socket adapters
  • Buy additional travel insurance (not as covered as I thought I was)

More on my “to do” list

Just when I thought I was making headway, some things crept onto the list. Grr. These things happen, I guess. Time’s running out fast, and there’s still a lot to do…

  • Mongolian visa
  • 50 rolls 200 ASA film, 10-15 rolls b&w (speed TBD)
  • Get camera back from repair
  • Traveller’s cheques
  • Arrange to have house checked regularly
  • Change emergency call numbers for security system
  • 62mm polarized filter
  • Dig out zip off pants and sandals from storage
  • Buy roll of duct tape
  • Put together first aid kit
  • Photocopy credit cards, passport, visas, and other important documents
  • Get cash in euros, and $US
  • Pay taxes
  • New batteries for X370
  • Timers for the lights in my house
  • Get new deodorant (Amy will appreciate this)
  • Buy universal electrical socket adapters
  • Buy additional travel insurance (not as covered as I thought I was)

Almost time

Since we’re comparing lists, this is what I have left to do:

  • Get $$ in Euros for NordHostel (104 each for hostel and airport transfer)
  • Pack for business trip (SF)
  • Knitting patterns for Big Girls’ Knits book (due Apr 15/May1)
  • Leave patterns with Sandra for test-knitting
  • Put together mp3 playlists
  • UA upgrade – return trip
  • Buy sunglasses
  • Buy more film
  • Buy Bonine and Tylenol PM

Technically, I still have to finish packing my backpack, but since everything I’m taking is in one place, mostly organized, I’m not going to count that. Everyone knows the organization is the hardest (and most time consuming) part.

Want proof?

Amy's office floor

Visas are cleared!

Woo hoo!! The last visa is in. It’s handwritten, but it’s in! (I hope it’s okay…)

With the Mongolian visa all wrapped up, this means that I’m officially good to go. I still have a lot of things left to do (see the list below), but I’m a lot better off than I was a couple of weeks ago.

  • Mongolian visa
  • 50 rolls 200 ASA film, 10-15 rolls b&w (speed TBD)
  • Get camera back from repair
  • Traveller’s cheques
  • Arrange to have house checked regularly
  • Change emergency call numbers for security system
  • 62mm polarized filter
  • Dig out zip off pants and sandals from storage
  • Buy roll of duct tape
  • Put together first aid kit
  • Photocopy credit cards, passport, visas, and other important documents
  • Get cash in euros, and $US
  • Pay taxes
  • New batteries for X370
  • Timers for the lights in my house

Russian Train Tickets

The train tickets arrived today by FedEx.

Once I figured out how to decode everything that’s written on ’em… everything looks good!

Oy. Back to the living.

Well, I spent the past 24 hours feeling like the muck beneath one of those big rocks in a dirty, neglected park. I’m still having the little seizures, but they’re getting better. I think. Considering this was probably brought on by stress… AND… that having the seizures is generating yet more stress… (should I go back on the meds? if I see my doctor, will she take my driver’s license away?)… It’s been a hell of a day that feels like 40.

Anyhow, this is what’s left on my list:

Pick up antibiotic prescription
Find business cards
Make photocopies of everything
Get $$ in Euros for NordHostel (104 each for hostel and airport transfer)
Clean camera lenses
Pack
Pack for business trip (SF)
Register for Yoga with Pattabhi Jois (Apr 29)
Knitting patterns for Big Girls’ Knits book (due Apr 15/May1)
Assemble addresses for postcards
Send out blog URL to people / post on website
Find cat sitter for April 22 – 29
Leave patterns with Sandra for test-knitting
Put together mp3 playlists
Rental car – San Francisco
UA upgrade – return trip
Get new SIN – only if the house offer is accepted

To Buy (here or in California):
Sunglasses and case
Claritin or other decongestant
Spare video battery and case
Film – more 200 please.
Some sort of wider lens than 35mm. And faster. Did I mention faster?
Socks – black and white
Bonine (like Gravol but way better)
Tylenol PM (nighty-night!)

The biggest stuff is really the knitting for the book. That deadline is technically on Friday and I’m SO not going to make it. I’m about half done with the back of the sweater and done with one sleeve. But then there’s the whole tank top thing. Oy. At least it makes for good plane knitting. Just once, though, I’d like to be early with a knitting deadline.