We left Tomsk by train - first taking a train in Plazkart down to Yugar, from where we caught the Trans-Siberian from Yugar to Irkutsk. I had been looking forward to being on the trans-siberian again. In 2006 I had take it from Ulaan Baatar in Mongolia, all the way to Moscow in one go. The journey had taken 5 days and travelled through numerous different time zones.
Although it had been six years since I had travelled the trans-siberian it seemed strangely familiar and I felt well acquainted with it. I knew how the beds operated, where the luggage was to be stored, the location of the samovar with hot water, how to fold our little table up. But despite the familiarities I also felt things had changed. It seemed far more comfortable than I remembered. The compartment felt bigger, and was definitely newer. The toilet Western and clean and fresh and the toilets didn't flush directly onto the tracks and they didn't smell. I was undecided if I was pleased with the additional comforts, and at some level I felt strangely dissapointed at the progress.
The sheets still felt stiff and hard and stark white as though they had been boiled for a few hours, but the Provinista (the female train attendants for which each carriage has it's own) she didn't look like an olympic shot put thrower who was ready to tear my head off at the slightest mis-demeanor ) actually smiled, was kind and helpful, and didn't spend half the journey vacuuming the carriage hall way.