Yesterday was another train day — a 13-hour run from Krasnoyarsk to Novosibirsk. Because it was another non-overnight stretch, we opted again for second-class and once again got lucky with a cabin to ourselves.
Now seems like a good time to mention the train ‘conductor,’ who plays a big role in your daily life aboard the Trans Siberian. Each car has its own conductor, a ‘provodnitsa’ in Russian, who keeps things moving along. She is typically a robust woman, past middle age, with a stern countenance. She opens and closes the doors at stops, checks your tickets, issues blankets and sheets, keeps the toilets (relatively) clean, and keeps her eye on everything. We are generally afraid of her.
You can also get a male ‘provodnets,’ but that s rare. Yesterday’s surprise was that most of the conductors on this train were surprisingly young women who did not fit the mold at all. They actually smiled a bit and seemed more approachable. Initially, I foolishly thought this seemed like a good thing.
Our last couple stops were off the beaten path a bit. While most non-Russian tourists stop at Lake Baikal and a couple other places, not so many stop in Krasnoyarsk or Novosibirsk. On this train between those two stops, we in fact never encountered a single person who was discernibly not Russian. Our car was also very family-oriented. By that I mean there were a half dozen children who greatly enjoyed running up and down the hallway and making lots of noise. The only time I saw children start to get so rambunctious on a previous train, the provodnitsa materialized instantly and shut it down fast. I missed her today.
From Novosibirsk we are going to take a side trip to Tomsk, traveling there today by minibus. Meanwhile, here are a couple quick shots from Novosibirsk in Western Siberia, Russia’s third largest city.