19 May 2003 - On the Trans-Siberian, 9 hours away from Moscow
Personal Hygiene on the Trans-Siberian

Have not shaved since Seoul. Same clothes since Irkutsk. Functional loos on the train. No shower. Toiletry bag containing: toothbrush, toothpaste and deoderant.

I could leave it at that, I suppose, and you would be able to guess my state at the end of three nights and four days on the Trans-Siberian, but memoirs are meant to be more detailed than that.

Each carriage has two toilets, one at each end. Both are meant to be open to all passengers, but the one next to the conductress on the train from Ulan Batar to Irkutsk was locked - it seems they sometimes do that for their own personal use. However, this sort of thing doesn't happen on the first class carriages, and we have pretty much a free use of it. About the only time it's locked is when the train stops at a station, and then if it's for ten minutes or more.

It's what you expect from train loos - a glorified hole in a carriage, although quite a bit of thought has gone into this one. There is a little flap and drain that shoots waste out into the countryside and you're meant to help clean up with the use of a toilet brush that's kept in a small container of water.

The First Class cabins have the addition of disposable toilet seat covers, much to the delight of Mama, who now finds the whole business of using Russian toilets much more palatable after the adventures in Listvyanka.

Mama is shocked and appalled at my attempts to conserve laundry. I see no problem in waiting until Moscow to wash one set of clothes, but she feels I should change more often, despite the sedentary life on board the train. My Gillette ClearGel Pacific Light antiperspirant and deoderant does wonders, I tell you, although that may just be from my point of view.

I also am inadvertantly taking my brother's advice to grow a beard, simply because I haven't been able to get a reliable source of hot water in a non-moving compartment since Seoul, and although I would like to say that my seven-day old stubble has blossomed into a beard, the truth is that it still looks like a half-hearted attempt at manliness with the hair stubs recoiling at the unacustomed sight of light, reluctant to grow into the luxurious spread I know it must be capable of. Perhaps a few months, and we might see something.


posted on Friday, May 30, 2003 - permalink
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