Tyumensky District, Russia
Last night after a half-day rest holed up in a room of Hotel Vostok – a renovated ex-Soviet office block monstrosity near the centre of Tyumen – I caught the midnight train coming from Moscow to Tynda. I’m going as far as Severobaikalsk but that’s 60 hours enough for one journey man.
In the hotel lobby checking out I realised my train didn’t leave for another few hours. I got them to order me a taxi for 22:30. I sat down in the lobby to put a new screen protector on my camera display screen and take a slow beer. Leaving my backpack at the reception I headed into Tyumen’s centre to see the Tura River and the cathedral. A massive riverside beautification had taken place with a terrace of paths, platforms and linking stairways. But the vista was an industrial one with a chimney stack dominating the river valley views. The sun set down Tyumen’s main street was intense as the sun hung for a long time as a brilliant red ball obscured by the smog across the region. I thought there might be some taiga fires causing this as well.
The buses didn’t come as regularly on the way back and I was anxious when the time for my taxi from Hotel Vostok. came and went and I was still a half hour walk away. But a bus did come and I got back to the hotel at 23:00. They ordered another taxi and when it arrived at 23:20 I politely said ‘bistra, bistra’ to the driver and he obliged. At the station, where I’d been a week before on the way to Novy Urengoy, I had half an hour before departure.
My ticket didn’t include the bed linen so I bought that from the obliging provodnitsa for the very exact price of 101.40 roubles.
My dormitory companions to start with kept to themselves. The next morning as we all awoke and crawled out of our cots seeking hot tea and bread for breakfast I introduced myself and soon the bare-chested beer-gutted Vitalik was offering my vodka shots across the aisle. Elderly widow Tamara was travelling to see her brother in Novosibirsk. And Vladimir (Valodya) was happy to talk a little without vodka!