The Trans-Siberian Railway is the largest railway line in the world. I traveled from Moscow to the Sea of Japan via the Baikal-Amur (BAM) line, a less traveled rail line to the north.
Russian’s pride in this cross-continental railway link is not unwarranted. This engineering marvel spans seven time zones and seven mountain ranges, for a total distance of over 9,000km over a majority of the Russian permafrost. For a majority of the Russian tundra, travelers experience an average temperature of -40 degrees Celsius in the Siberian Winter.
So you may ask why. Why would anyone want to experience such desolation and complete isolation? Well that’s exactly it. What I can tell you, is you don’t do it for the destination or the check mark on your bucket list. You do it for the journey. You do it for the passengers you bond with over a shot of vodka or you do it for the warm teas, hot water noodles, and Russian snacks. You do it for the soothing, eight-day, bumpy journey that rocks you to sleep every night as the train powers through complete darkness.
Like Canada, there isn’t a lot in the middle, but this historical ribbon of steel is what keeps the country together. Like any good cross country journey, it makes you appreciate the whole thing.