19 June 2009

Train ride with Buddhists

In order to complete our "train marathon" to get to Ulan-Ude in time, we took another 24-hour train trip from Krasnoyarsk to Ulan-Ude. I was already very tired from two bad nights on an uncomfortable couch in a dirty flat and somehow regretted having bought 3rd class tickets again. During one of our last trips we were seated close to a group of young men drinking beer, one of them completely drunk... I was not keen to repeat the experience.
When we entered our wagon, we noticed a bit number of couples and families with children who seemed to know each other. Later we learned that they were all Buddhists travelling from Tomsk to Irkutsk, where an important buddhist meeting was going to take place. We learned this from a man that we had already noticed because he was smiling more than the average russian. He came towards us asking whether he could just talk to us a bit. Of course! So he talked about Buddhism and we about our trip and our impressions about Russia, he thanked us and went back to his group.
I don't know much about Buddhism but I just noticed that hardly anyone in the wagon was drinking alcohol, and nobody had beer for breakfast (and also, the smell was not as bad as usually).
Later in the afternoon, somebody took out a guitar and started singing russian songs. It was very nice and looking out of the window at the Siberian countryside with its green fields, low hills and birch trees while listening to the music was undescribably beautiful.
Close to us was a family with a small blond boy of about 3, who pretended to be driving a car with an imaginary steering wheel every time he walked down the corridor to go to the bathroom. Later on the corridor was transformed into an imaginary motorway for toy cars with his older brother and another small boy.
In the compartment directly next to us, two pre-adolescent brothers occupied mostly by peaceful card games, interrupted about every 2 hours by a friendly but noisy fight.
During this trip we received an sms message saying a hotel room had been reserved for us in Ulan-Ude (arranged by Ayuna, our Moscow friend). When we arrived there, the owner (a lady with violet hair) was already waiting for us at the door. The room is cozy, there's a private bathroom and hot water, and this morning we got each 3 fried eggs for breakfast (poor Miguel...).
So, even if our last train ride was nice, we're taking a break here for a few days before leaving for our Summer School in Buryatia.

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