I am going somewhere exciting (hint: it involves long train rides, dinosaur fossils and zen gardens).

At this moment, I am terribly excited, slightly apprehensive and extremely unprepared.  I am going on a six-week long trip across Russia (taking the Trans-Siberian train line), Mongolia (continuing my journey in the train in the Trans-Mongolian line now) and entering China (at this point the entire trip would be called Trans-Manchurian though of course if you are taking the Trans-Manchurian route from Moscow, the train would take a totally different route). After that I fly to Japan.

The Trans-Siberian train route near Baikal
The Trans-Siberian train route near Baikal. Image: Valery Chernodedov, Flickr

Thanks to my Indian passport, my trips have to be planned within the confines of the very short duration of the visa (for instance, the Japanese visa is valid for three months but allows you to stay only for 15 days at a stretch).  There is no opportunity to linger anywhere even if serendipity strikes. While Russia allows you to stay in the country so long as your trip duration based on the visa application, Mongolia and China graciously offer a 30-day visa (more on visas later and an amazing guy who helped me secure these visas without a glitch, in a different post). 

Summertime in Moscow
Summertime in Moscow. Image: Nikita Bukin.
A summer scene in St. Petersburg
A summer scene in St. Petersburg. Image: Alexandr Kim, http://www.sputnik8.com

So I am packing my bags and heading on a train journey that exposes me to three different cultures in the span of a month. The beautiful cathedrals and UNESCO sights of interior Russia, Ural mountains, Baikal lake, the Gobi desert, Dinosaur Fossils of Flaming Cliffs and the sights of the megalopolis of Beijing are included in the itinerary.

A pastoral scene in Mongolia
A pastoral scene in Mongolia. Image: Stefan Schinning, Flickr

I am also excited about Japan. Plans are still sketchy but I am dreaming of the country’s umami flavors, the iconic Fuji san and zen gardens. Osaka and Kyoto might figure in the list but with the available ten days I am not sure how much ground I am going to cover. And, as you might have surmised, covering ground is never in the scheme of things for me anyway.

A tri-shaw in China
A tri-shaw in China. Image: Bilwander, Flickr
A zen garden in Japan.
A zen garden in Japan. Image: Hakon Skogsrud

I am checking things off my packing list, sealing my shower gel and sunscreen bottles with sellotape so they don’t explode during transit and leak into my bag. Before, I leave, I will also go eat masala dosa at the neighborhood restaurant. Not that I will miss it during my travels, but if there is one recent food memory I want to travel with, it would be the memory of biting into a masala dosa.

So do follow me on Facebook and Instagram for constant updates during the trip. Leave a comment and let me know if you have been on the Trans-Siberian train or to any of the countries I am going to. It would be lovely to get some tips from you.

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9 thoughts on “I am going somewhere exciting (hint: it involves long train rides, dinosaur fossils and zen gardens).

  1. Excellent! Have a wonderful journey.
    I guess nothing will quite prepare you for the scale and size of these 3 countries (Russia, Mongolia and China – haven’t been there personally, but have read the works of Paul Theroux who journeyed by train).
    Best,
    Rahul

  2. I am so glad to have befriended you before this wonderful journey of yours. May luck and good spirits be with you… Looking forward to reading your adventures! :):) I m excited!

  3. Wish you all the best. This journey has been in my wishlist since many, many years. Never had enough money to buy the tickets. Would love to know about the financial part of it. And of course the stories & pics. 🙂
    Bon Voyage.

  4. Thoroughly enjoyed your first post, embarking on this stupendous journey across Russia, China, Mangolia and Japan. WOW!! WOW!!! WOW!!! WOW!!! Shall keep my eyes peeled for further posts, with your pictures. So do keep them coming, Prathap.

  5. Damn!! You are taking the Trans-Siberian. Now I am really jealous of you. Last few months you have been traveling, traveling and traveling and now you are traveling to Mongolia from Russia, two of the few countries I so want to visit!!

    All the best Prathap and come back with a lot of memories and of-course, stories 🙂

    Cheers,
    Rajiv

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