Two Days Somewhere Near Nogliki

I’m now back in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, having spent Monday and Tuesday up at the OPF near Nogliki.

The train journey to Nogliki was probably the best I’ve had on a Russian train, almost certainly because I was in the business class carriage.  The differences between business class and ordinary class are as follows:

1.  Two beds per carriage instead of four.

2.  Small TV, albeit not showing anything most of the time.  Just as everyone was going to bed, they put on an Antonio Banderas 4-in-1 special DVD, and they showed us the first 20 minutes of The 13th Warrior before stopping the disc and starting again from the beginning, at which point I switched it off.

3.  Bedding comes as standard, as opposed to being an optional extra.  They also provide a small towel in addition to the standard tea towel.

4.  Food is provided in the form of a packed lunch.  I didn’t realise this, and hence boarded the train in time-honoured tradition with provisions which would have served to feed the city of Troy during its 10-year siege.  Anyway, I got the packed lunch on top, which contained bread, cheese, salami, yoghurt, soup, an apple, chocolate, tea, coffee, sugar, salt, pepper, plastic cutlery, and a bottle of cognac.  The latter would have served well to help passengers get to sleep (or start a fight), but oilfield workers are now usually subject to alcohol tests when they disembark, the oil companies having found most of their workforce turning up completely ratarsed in the days when the Sakhalin projects were in their infancy.  It is forbidden to take alcohol onto the accommodation camps or the offshore platforms, so we all had to leave the bottles unopened on the train.  The return journey was a different matter though…

5.  The interior decor is a bit nicer.  You get a few extra lights and mirrors.

6.  The toilets are cleaner, and they provide you with soap and toilet paper.

7.  You get a little overnight bag containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, shoe horn, comb, etc.

8.  Your carriage companion is an oilfield worker, as opposed to a toothless babushka, drunken soldier, or smelly old man.  On the way up I shared a carriage with a member of a Scottish dredging crew, on the way back with a 25 year old Russian apprentice driller.

Other than that it was all pretty much the same as any other Russian train journey.  The awful music, the lurching and rattling of the train, the inexplicable 20 minute stops in the middle of nowhere, the silly little net curtains which stop you seeing out the window, the strip of linen running the length of the corridor to protect the carpet.  Ah, the memories!

So, after 14 hours and a reasonable night’s sleep, I got to Nogliki.  From there three of us clambered aboard a Toyota Landcruiser and spent the next two and a half hours driving along a dirt road through endless forests and mountains, never once encountering a town or so much as a village.  Eventually we arrived in a mosquito-infested swamp in which somebody had decided to build an Onshore Processing Facility.  I think the nearest sizeable town was Nogliki which we’d left umpteen miles behind.  If this place isn’t a replica of hell, it’s a damned good effort at one.  The people I met there looked at me with hatred in their eyes when I told them I was only there for a two-day visit.  They looked at me as if I’d just run off with their wife.

So I’m back in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk now, and boy am I glad.

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10 Responses to Two Days Somewhere Near Nogliki

  1. Russophile says:

    Interesting observations of train travel in Russia. I traveled on a nearly-as-nice sounding train several years ago from Moscow to Petersburg. That was on the Nikolai Express which I recommend for tourist travel between Saint Petersburg and Moscow. However, most of my train travels have been the more interesting trips that you mentioned in your previous post.

  2. Girda Clamp says:

    Nice to see such sympathy and understanding for your colleagues (presumably ex- by now) who have to work full-time in places like Nogliki so that office-wallahs like you can swan around the place on jollies. Can almost hear the bar-room conversation on your return of how tough it was (I mean it was a whole 2 days!!) and how you suffered for the project and SEIC.

    Would imagine there’s quite a price on your head by now outside of Yuzhno.

  3. Tatyana says:

    Kipling lived, Kipling lives, Kipling will live forever!

  4. Matt says:

    That “They looked at me as if Id just run off with their wife” – syndrome is something you can face all over the world. I’ve seen it in Europe, Asia, the US, you name it.

    It’s just a matter of a grave disturbance in supply-demand…

  5. Tim Newman says:

    Nice to see such sympathy and understanding for your colleagues (presumably ex- by now) who have to work full-time in places like Nogliki so that office-wallahs like you can swan around the place on jollies.

    Heh! I didn’t have that much sympathy. Most of these guys are on a 4-4 rotation and fly home business class. Me being a grubby subcontractor, I’m on an 11-2 and fly home with my knees against my chin in the arse-end of the plane.

  6. Tim Newman says:

    That was on the Nikolai Express which I recommend for tourist travel between Saint Petersburg and Moscow.

    That’s the most comfortable train ride in Russia by a mile. It’s not just that the cabins are good, but the track is laid smoothly so you can acually sleep. In the provinces, you get shaken all over the place during the night.

  7. Tatyana says:

    OT: saw your story @Norm.

    Normal’no.

  8. Dinc says:

    Trains on the Russian mainland are worse, believe me :)

  9. Venichka says:

    Ha ha, khorosho.

    My last train trip in the CIS was in a platskartnyi bunk (is that, essentially, 3rd or 4th class? I forget) between Odesa and Khemlnytsky. Goryachyi (i ochen sladkii) chai (or however you say that in Ukrainian) was available, at least.

    Condiderably less comfortable than that one!. But, yes, travelling “luxe” puts any other class in the shade…

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