The Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) revolutionized the way many Americans live, work, and travel. This landmark legislative achievement helped Americans, and visitors to our shores, enter and exit public buildings and spaces with ease, regardless of whether they walked or perambulated by different means, by requiring that, in the case of all “new construction,” ramps or elevators be provided wherever there were also stairs. The ADA had the added benefit of helping parents with small children in strollers get around more easily. Unfortunately, there is no ADA in Russia, a fact of which we became acutely aware after spending 36 hours in Moscow, and three full days in St. Petersburg.
I knew food would not be the highlight of the Trans-Siberian Railroad. What I didn’t know was exactly how bad it would be, and, more than that, how difficult it would be to get at all. With the combination of poor and unhealthy options, and difficulty getting access to the three currencies needed to buy food on the train and at station stops, feeding our family on the railroad turned out to be one of our biggest challenges so far.
Something fishy was going on with the guards on our train. They, the Chinese men dressed in stately blue uniforms, didn’t care much about their official duties—our shared bathroom constantly lacked soap, and rarely had toilet paper (thankfully, we brought our own)—but they were busy doing something.
Over the course of five and a half days, we are traveling by train from Beijing to Moscow, across China (for 12 hours), Mongolia (for 24 hours), and then Russia for the remainder of the trip, including large swaths of Siberia. (In fact, although the train journey from Beijing to Moscow is commonly referred to as the Trans-Siberian Railroad, our train will travel over two separate lines: the Trans-Mongolian line, from Beijing to Ulan-Ude; and then the Trans-Siberian line, from Ulan-Ude to Moscow.)