The 26 Hour Train Ride

Train Ride

Marc’s team has two games in Almaty this week – today and tomorrow – and their winter break starts this Saturday. In order to make the most of our time, we decided to fly from Almaty to Phuket, and that meant I had to come along for the road trip. We thought was going to be a bus ride to Astana and a short flight, but the team decided on a train ride instead. A very long train ride. 26 hours to be exact. When Marc first pitched the idea to me, I was not thrilled to say the least. But, my only other option was hanging out in Kokshetau for four days and taking a cab alone to Astana to fly to meet Marc. Ultimately, I decided to take the train with the team.

We started at the rink around 3:30 AM on Tuesday. After being shuttled by the team bus, we arrived at the train station painfully early – almost an hour before the train.

Train Ride 2

Once we boarded the train, we got situated in our cabin by making our beds with the provided fresh linen and the oldest pillows known to man. I gave mine up and opted for a makeshift pillow of blankets, sheets and my fluffy scarf. With our luggage stowed, we settled in for the long haul and drifted off to sleep.

Train Ride 3

I was hoping the light of day would make the train and the ride seem less ominous, but it didn’t do much. The amenities on the train were unsurprisingly lacking – a hot water tank and a food and beverage cart came through our car twice. The heat, however, was more than sufficient. So sufficient that everyone was stripped down to their bottom layers, and I traded my leggings for shorts from my vacation stash. Not that it did us much good – nothing really provided relief from the overwhelming heat and stagnant air. I dreaded each time I had to make a trip to the bathroom – a cold, grimy room with a toilet that look as if it was straight out of a prison – but at least it provided a quick break from the heat.

Train Ride 6

We spent the day playing road trip games, watching movies alone with our headphones and feasting on the goodies we had packed while we did our best to stay cool. I attempted to read a book later in day, but found myself passing out from fatigue – or maybe a lack of oxygen and heat exhaustion – before I could even finish a chapter. That fatigue was my best friend though because it allowed me to sleep through the final 5 or 6 hours. We arrived in Almaty around 7 AM on Wednesday and headed straight to the hotel to sleep the away the remainder of the morning.

train ride 11

Now that’s it over, I’m happy to say that I survived. I’m actually impressed that I made it through without freaking out. It wasn’t the best day(s) of my life, but it wasn’t really the worst either – even if it felt like it at times. It was quite the experience, and I would imagine that if the train had been more modern, I may have actually enjoyed the ride. I loved the amount of space we had to stretch out and relax – so much better than being squished into a tiny little airplane seat – and I loved that we were able to bring so much food along with us. Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll do it again – just definitely not in Kazakhstan.

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    January 23, 2014 at 1:30 am

    […] before Marc and I went to Thailand, we took the train to Almaty. It was a long ride. We needed food, but I wanted to be careful not to bring anything that would […]

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