The Trans-Siberian Railway really was an adventure of epic proportions. I travelled 9,000 kilometres through three different countries, got to explore remote villages in the Siberian wilderness and to see vibrant cities such as Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia.
Having studied Russian at school and then at university, the Trans-Siberian has always been something that I have wanted to accomplish but I have never had the time or the opportunity.
The longest part of the journey was from Irkutsk to Moscow which took three and a half days on the train. Even though it’s a very long time in transit, with good company, a Kindle and a few short breaks to stretch your legs, the time flies by.
What were the highlights of your trip?
I explored the Great Wall of China covered in snow, went Siberian husky dog sledding in Irkutsk and lived in a Mongolian Ger Camp surrounded by majestic snow covered mountains and the bluest sky that I have ever seen.
Another highlight was meeting some amazing people; Drinking traditional milk tea with a Mongolian nomad called Namjilmaa in her Ger Camp and using Russian as a common language between us to get to know each other. And becoming friends with young Russian soldiers on the train and swapping our flip flops as a token of our friendship. These are stories that I will have for the rest of my life.
And how cold was it?
The -35 degree cold in Mongolia was bone chilling. Even with thermals on and multiple layers it was so cold that your eyelashes began to form snowflakes and your hands lost feeling through two pairs of gloves. Having packed very light for three months of travel I didn’t have a large winter coat. Fortunately my mother and sister came to visit me in Hong Kong and gave me a bag of winter clothes and boots.
Do you have any tales from your time aboard the train?
One of the greatest stories from the train was meeting thirty Russians who were of a similar age and were on their way home after their year of military service. Over the next three days we became great friends and I translated all of the dialogue between them and my English speaking friends from Australia, Ireland and Mexico. It was a brilliant experience and we all came away with having extended the hand of international friendship. At the stop of one of our new Russian friends, we all got off to say goodbye and to meet his family. His grandmother even gave me two jars of pickled mushrooms to eat for the rest of the journey towards Moscow. It was a wonderful experience and it broke down boundaries.
What’s the plan for next year?
I’m kicking off 2016 with my charity project in Jakarta with Junior Achievement where I’ll be teaching local students about entrepreneurship and the importance of being financially astute.
Then I’m off to Bali, Australia, New Zealand, South America and then up to San Francisco to begin my second internship with AXA Lab. I’m looking forward to swimming in the crystal clear waters of Indonesia, climbing the glaciers in New Zealand and doing the Inca Trail in Peru.