After our luxury first part of train travel with the Zarengold Transsib we experienced traveling in the Standard Transsib for the route from Irkutsk to Vladivostok.
We had booked a first class compartment but the train composition only had second class wagons. So we got a whole compartment with four beds which proved to be even better since we had more space (in particular for our luggage).
Traveling with the Standard Transsib went well but was also challenging at times. There were times when we were sweating like hell (outside temperature 35 degrees), the toilets were very simple but at least most times relatively clean and our Russian co-travelers were providing us with all different kinds of smells (food, body), everything was a bit filthy, etc., but all in all a good experience. We gave the conductor and the children on the train some Swiss chocolate and everybody was happy;-)!
The longest individual train travel lasted for 57 hours – from Ulan-Ude to Chabarovsk. We lived on bottled water, instant soups, crackers, chocolate and instant coffee. Hot water is always available.
From time to time there were stops of up to 30 minutes. Everybody gets out of the train to walk and/or to smoke….always being careful not to miss the departure of the train ;-). One of us got the job to run to a small shop stall nearby and buy water and most important ice cream: "An ice cream a day – keeps the doctor away";-).
At the end in Vladivostok we will have travelled 9,288 km by Transsib. We definitely experienced the distances in this huge country. We finally had time to look out of the window, day-dream, read, chat, play yatzy and relax.
The views from the train were interesting – endless forests of birches and pines….endless, meadows with colorful flowers, rivers and water ponds, little dachas with vegetable gardens, small villages, larger cities with old wooden houses and concrete buildings from Soviet times, large (typically very old and often no longer used) industrial areas.