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The Mother of All Journeys...

Rotterdam, april 10th, 2012

The facts:

  • For about twenty years I've wanted to do the Trans-Siberian Express and visit the DPRK (North Korea), but things kept me from actually going.
  • My (travel)mate Peter visited every nook and cranny of Europe by train (including Moldavia and Transnistria) and has had his sights set on Hong Kong - Amsterdam by train for some time now.
  • My father will celebrate his 80th birthday and he lives in Australia.

Combining all the puzzle pieces this itineray started to form:

  • Me and my partner will visit my family in Hobart (Tasmania) and fly to Beijing afterwards;
  • Peter flies to Hong Kong and takes the train via Shanghai to Beijing;
  • We hook up in Beijing and stay there a couple of days;
  • We then go on a week-long excursion to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea);
  • Back to Beijing to recover and then off to Irkutsk and Lake Baikal via Mongolia on the Trans Mongolia Express;
  • After a sidetrip to Lake Baikal/Irkutsk we board the Trans Siberian Express "Rossija" to Moscow;
  • Five days in Moscow;
  • Return to the Netherlands.

The departure date is set for April 15th from Schiphol Airport Amsterdam: arrival back in the Netherlands on 24th May. That was as late as we could stretch it, since we have to go back to work two days later (leaving us with some recovery time).

I'll update a daily travelogue with photos and upload them on this page, though obviously there will be a bit of a hiatus in North Korea and the Trans-Siberian Express due to a lack of FTP-possibilities (and a general lack of possibilities of communication with the outside world, in the first case...!).

Who are we, and why are we doing this?
We're two travel-enthusiast older boys who bring home the bacon as train manager (Peter) and engine-driver (Onno) on our high speed and other international trains, but we also enjoy being in the passenger seat. Europe's well-travelled by now, so we just had to go a little further and spend a little more time aboard a train. We're really looking forward to the trip back from Pyongyang to Beijing via the Sinuiju-Dandong border. And it'll be in a North Korean sleeper train! And that six day journey from Beijing to Moscow? We'll be just f-i-n-e...

Heading for Kiev Kovel, Ukraine Travel? Got to earn money first! Locomotive VL80(t)-1960, Kiev Pass.

We've travelled together in the past (Kiev 2007 for example) and we know we won't kill each other, which is very important for a trip this long and complex. The most important thing is to be easy-going and flexible, and to be able to deal with each other's "difficult moments."

It's going to be a job and a half doing everything we've planned, but we've already taken all the steps necessary for the trip itself to run smoothly. All the necessary visas are in our passports, and we've been authorised and cleared to enter the DPRK and leave over land. Plane tickets have been bought, hotels have been booked. The train tickets for the Trans-Siberian Express Beijing-Irkutsk and Irkutsk-Moscow have been reserved and are supposed to be delivered to my house right before we leave... hopefully.
Packing is another puzzle, because we'll be in all sorts of weather: 24°C in Beijing, and 2°C plus possible snow in Irkutsk. We don't want to cart around a big bag on the train and we both like minimalist travel arrangements. You can buy stuff on the way, and hey, t-shirts and underwear can be turned inside out, can't they?

See ya!


Itinerary

DateLocation
april 15 - april 25 Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur-Hobart/Sydney-Beijing (Onno)
Amsterdam-Hong Kong-Shanghai-Beijing (Peter)
april 25 - april 28Beijing (part 1)
april 29 - may 3 Visit to Democratic People Republic of Korea
april 29 - may 3 Una visita a la República Democrática de Corea del Norte
may 4 - may 5 train Dandong-Beijing
may 6 - may 8 Beijing (part 2)
may 9 - may 11 Trans Mongolia Express Beijing-Ulan Baatar (Mongolia)-Irkutsk (Russia)
may 11 - may 14 Lake Baikal (Listvyanka, Irkutsk)
may 15 - may 18 Trans Siberia Express "Rossija" Irkutsk-Moscow
may 19 - may 22Moscow
may 23 - may 25 Moscow-Tallinn-Amsterdam (Onno)
Moscow-Minsk-Amsterdam (Peter)

Epilogue

Rotterdam, june 8 - 2012

It is over, the trip has been fabulous and we are back at work now for two weeks already... Still need a few more weeks to finalize all translations and movies. The clips will be available via Youtube shortly.

Thanks for reading us! Should you have questions or need for information: you are welcome to mail us.

CONTACT VIA EMAIL

Onno and Peter.



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