|"Night stop of the Transsiberian at Novosibirsk." Photo By: Christophe Meneboeuf Wikimedia Commons|
I took it from Peter to Ulan Bataar, Mongolia. They ran out of food but they never ran out of beer or vodka. There were 2 fights- a small fight on the train and a giant brawl off the train. A soldier lifted up his shirt and showed me 4 bullet wounds he got in Chechnya. You step off the platform in the middle of the night and look up at the stars and know there is nothing around you for thousands of miles. I would go from Peter to Irkutsk instead of Vladivostok to Moscow. It would be a tragedy if you didn't stop off in Irkutsk to see lake Baikal. It's a spiritual place for Russians. They believe your brain works differently there because the water is so clean that it purifies the air. I jumped in lake baikal while it was frozen. IT doesn't feel cold. It feels like a million knives stabbing you at the same time. You turn into a monkey and you don't know your name. All you know is that you have got to get the heck out of the water. To this day if I am treading water in life I think back to that lake and I tell myself I must just move in some direction, it doesn't matter which. The trip changes you. And whenever you meet a Russian you can tell them you've been to Baikal and they will know that you really have been to Russia.
When I got to Mongolia, I stayed in a hostel that had rented the only room with a TV to a Frenchman named Anael. One evening I tracked down Aneal and, although he wasn't familiar with the rules of baseball, he agreed to allow me to watch the American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees in his room which was aired at 8 am. Anael and I watched the Red Sox come from behind to defeat New York in 7 games before they went on to win the 2004 World Series.