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1996: Riding a Slow Train Through Siberia

Bimbino and Bambina had to continue their trip from Ekaterinburg to the East towards Tyumen. These cities are situated not far from each other, therefore there was no need to take a night train this time. There are more than fifteen trains passing Ekaterinburg every day in the direction of Tyumen. Those are long distance trains. They don't stop often on the way, and do the distance in 4 to 5 hours. The ticket prices start from 800 Rubles (10 Euros). All the way from Moscow the monkeys had been travelling on this type of train, and they were curious if there was another type of a train they could try out. Having some knowledge of the Russian railway system, the Travelling Monkeys decided to do some research and look for a local train running between the two cities. They found one indeed. (There will come an article about different Russian trains, wait for it :)
The local train Bimbino and Bambina had found departed at noon, and they would arrive at Tyumen seven hours later. Yes, this connection took two hours longer than usual: firstly there were a lot of stops, and secondly they had to change trains halfway through the journey. There was some advantage though: the ticket cost just 350 Rubles (5 Euros), and they didn't have to book in advance. Why would the Travelling Monkeys choose this slow and possibly inconvenient way of transportation? Because they were curious and wanted to try it out!
1. Elektrichka - a suburban passenger train usually going for a distance no more than 300 km. (Photo source: Wikimedia Commons)
"Elektrichka" is the slowest but cheapest way to travelling on the railways in Russia. It is probably also the most interesting. During their trip the Travelling Monkeys were often molested by bad musicians trying to earn some money by performing horrible Russian chanson hits, men and women selling socks, cosmetics, batteries, and similar stuff. However, there were a few people selling food, and that's what Bimbino and Bambina were rather happy about. They had bought some fresh (still warm) fried potato pies which secured them a simple, but substantial lunch.
2. Elektrichka from the inside. (Photo source: tokatema.livejournal.com)
Information About the Connection
The following information about the schedule was last checked on the 17th of January 2016.
The most reliable website to check for connections is Yandex, however this section doesn't exist in English yet, so some knowledge of Russian is essential to understand the information. Elektrichka from Ekaterinburg departs daily at 12:37, it reaches the station "Oshchepkovo" at 16:16. From "Oshchepkovo" there is a connecting train to Tyumen. The interval between the connections is about half an hour. So in fact, there are two complementary suburban trains connecting two cities. The second train departs from "Oshchepkovo" at 16:48 and arrives to Tyumen at 19:28.
Note! You have to be careful when booking your tickets for long distant trains. The whole Russian Railway uses Moscow time referring to its schedule. It is very very confusing at first. However! The suburban train system uses the local time in its schedule. More about it: coming soon.
First Impressions of Siberia
After crossing the the Ural mountains and the border between Europe and Asia, the Travelling Monkeys entered the West Siberian Plain. They were curious about Siberia and wondered if it would be any different from what they had seen so far. Would there be endless nature or a lot of settlements on the way?
To their surprise, the landscape remained pretty much the same. There were still plenty of birches lining both sides of the railway, it was warm and sunny, and the nature was still rich and vivid. Bimbino and Bambina didn't expect to see many settlements on the way, but the train stopped every ten minutes in another village. Real nature took turns with frequent fields, farms and houses. It seemed like the Trans-Siberian Railway was indeed the main thruway around which the life of Siberia was concentrated.
3. There were some rather big stations on the way,...
big station
4. ...some very small stations,...
small station
5. ...and sometimes the train just stopped in front of a house.
no station
The Travelling Monkeys were excited to get off the train for an hour to embrace the opportunity of exploring a small village. There they could get some first-hand impressions of Siberia. People were also curious to see the monkeys in such a rarely visited place. They were rather friendly and eager to interact. Bimbino and Bambina didn't go far into the village due to the lack of time and explored the surroundings of the train station. They realized that they had reached km 1996 of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Quite a lot! But not even a half way to their destination.
6. Km 1996 of Trans-Siberian Railway.
7."Oshchepkovo" station where the Travelling Monkeys had to change one suburban train for another.
8. There were a few friendly people waving "Hello!"
friendly people
9. Other people looked rather serious...
10. ...and concentrated.
serious people
11. The backyard of the station was neatly decorated with flowers.
12. Ostrich farm?!
13. A typical wooden house.
Near by the station in a small park, which was used mostly as a public toilet, the Travelling Monkeys saw a small poor bunny. He was dirty and smelled badly. It seemed he could use some help. The monkeys decided to take him along.
14. A homeless bunny.
There was in fact not much to see around the station. It was just a typical small Russian settlement. It felt poor, forgotten, and to some extent unhappy. Bimbino and Bambina were not surprised, but they felt sad about it. Anyways, they had no intention to stay there for long, and headed soon further towards Tyumen.
15. Finally arrived! Tyumen train station.
Tyumen train station
Also Tyumen was not more than a stopover. From here the Travelling Monkeys headed to the North, deeper into the West Siberian Plain. Read about it in our next post!

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