Train aids thinking traveller
HOP aboard a train at the Kowloon-Canton Railway in Hong Kong . . . and you can travel all the way to Moscow.
Most tourists, however, fly to Beijing first to take the world's longest train journey - the Trans-Siberian Express.
This six-day adventure has been described as one of life's memorable and unique travel experiences - a chance to truly travel for the sake of travelling, rather than merely to reach a destination.
'I would recommend it to anyone with a sense of adventure,' said one veteran of the 14,400-kilometre ride.
'After the first day, a strange kinship develops among passengers. You have all the time in the world to meet everyone on board and, most important of all, time to think.' There are, in fact, two trains from Beijing to Moscow. The 'Chinese Train' departs every Wednesday at 7.40 am and travels via Mongolia. The fare ranges from $3,300 for deluxe class to $2,560 (soft class) and $1,940 (hard class).
The 'Russian Train' travels with only two classes (deluxe and hard) through Manchuria and departs every Saturday at 8.30 pm. The fares are $2,450 and $1,660. Deluxe class, incidentally, puts you in a compartment for two, while in the other classes compartments are shared by four.
On the Manchurian line, numerous stopovers are possible throughout Siberia, although a break at Irkutsk, three days into the journey, is one of the most popular because it is close to Lake Baikal.
This is one of the world's oldest and most mysterious waterways, stretching for 640 km. Surrounded by forests, it is home to grey seals, bears, lynx and wolves.
Fishing is also possible, with the novelty of catching fish by angling through holes in the frozen lake in winter.