The following is a direct transcription of my diary notes from our overland train trip from Irkutsk to Moscow. I warn you now, there is adult content.
1620hrs. Board train in Irkutsk: nice cabin, nice toilets, nice young steward. All is well.
1800hrs. Reading the "Love & Romance" section of Phil's Russian phrasebook. I never thought I'd ever learn what "use your tongue" is in Russian.
2010hrs. Talk turns to Kylie's arse. J-Lo's arse also mentioned.
2050hrs. Dinner in dining car. Natalie spills Fanta all over self. Not happy, Jan.
2052hrs. Dinner table topics: yeast imbalances; "dropping the kids off at the pool"; dwarf porn; body parts in dinner (after a hair found in Natalie's salad).
2155hrs. Bad joke time. "What do you call a man with no arms, no legs floating in the sea?" "Bob".
Sometime overnight: Greg is violently ill in toilet compartment due to dodgy dining car eggs.
1005hrs. Stopped at a station. Local radio is playing "Ra-ra Rasputin" by Boney M. Sweet.
1100-1500hrs. Natalie reads Andrew's copy of "Hotel Babylon" while Andrew is off chatting up a young Brisbane lass also on train. 352 pages.
1600hrs. Freezing stop in God-knows-where. Andrew still M-I-A; the rest of group retire to dining car for cards and warm Fanta.
1700-2000hrs. Karen is violently ill due to dodgy noodles purchased pre-trip at Irkutsk supermarket. Greg and Nat grateful they swore off instant noodles and stuck with oranges.
2300hrs. Andrew disappears to dining car with 5 Russian soldiers and 3 bottles of vodka. Rest of group hit the sleepers.
Sometime overnight: Andrew returns to cabin after passing out on a Russian soldier.
0800hrs. Time keeps on slipping backwards as group heads to Moscow and winds clocks back.
1100hrs. Natalie finally emerges from sleeper after making significant headway on Karen's copy of "The Count of Monte Cristo". Greg meanwhile has finished Andrew's copy of "Hotel Babylon".
1230hrs. Andrew's burn bandages are changed. Natalie maintains distance.
1600hrs. Nat & Greg sleep. Karen & Phil retire to dining car for drinks with 5 Russian soldiers (the same ones). Karen receives marriage proposal, but declines.
1800hrs. Karen breaks the team sausage, which had been with us since Beijing. Andrew and Jasmin (funky Brisbane lass) join us.
1930hrs. Talk of anniversaries; Greg wants to know what year leather is so he can buy a gimp outfit.
2000hrs. Talk turns to waxing, anal bleaching, personal cosmetic surgery and tampon marketing. It's like the freakin' Round Table.
2100hrs. Phil's WOW tattoo.
2200hrs. TOGA PARTY TIME! The group attire themselves in train-issue bedsheets and make for the dining car, describing the toga party as an "ancient Australian tradition" to diffuse any possible trouble with cabin attendants. On the way the train stops, and intrepid crew head outdoors into a (thankfully) balmy Russian evening. Many stares from fellow travellers, but a good time was had by all until very stern policeman pulled Phil aside and uttered a firm "Niet". Returned to train and dining car, but togas were cast aside. Energy levels sag thanks to the stroganoff and rice.
2300hrs. Karen and I are still feeling very motherly towards our sweet young "provodnik" (steward) Sergei. 21 years old, he is such a sweetie!
0700hrs. Seriously cannot be waking up this early. Damn you time zones.
0730hrs. Natalie finishes "The Count of Monte Cristo". 550 pages.
0830 hrs. Natalie receives thouroughly disappointing news that will no longer be able to visit "Russia Today" TV studios due to f***-ups with train timetables and arrival times. Station officials say "Niet". Natalie very depressed, as was only truly journalist-y type thing locked in during holiday.
0900hrs. Natalie finally gets through to 4BC for a cross with Greg Cary after dodgy phone reception the whole way.
1200hrs. Time is never-ending. Cards are played; books are read.
1400hrs. Greg iPods; Natalie uses time to blatantly plagiarise pertinent information from Andrew's Lonely Planet Europe guidebook for Estonia, Latvia, Spain & Morocco.
1700hrs. Finally! We arrive! Moscow station! It's cloudy and a bit rainy but it could be a gailstorm and group wouldn't care. We are OFF THE FREAKING TRAIN AT LAST!!!