Overland from England to Japan
I first came to Japan in 1991, but I came all the way here without using an airplane! I went by ferry from England to Holland and then I travelled by train through Germany, Poland, Russia, Mongolia and China. Finally I took a ferry across to Japan. On the way I stayed in the cities of Berlin, Warsaw, Moscow, Beijing (Peking), and Shanghai. The whole journey took three weeks and it was one of the best experiences of my life. The most exciting part was travelling on the Trans-Siberian Express for six days and six nights from Moscow to Beijing.
I was really impressed with the city of Moscow. It was much more beautiful than I had expected and there was so much to see. The Kremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral were fantastic!
The views from the train window were almost the same for four days - trees, trees and more trees!! The Russian forests are huge. However, inside the train I was never bored because it was like a big international party. About half of the people were from China, but most of the rest were European. Luckily for me, most people were able to speak English so I enjoyed chatting all day and all night for almost a week!
I shared a cabin with three university students from East Germany. They spoke German, Russian and really good English. I also made friends with some wonderful people from Holland. Two of them were a young married couple who were travelling around the world for a year.
Whenever the train stopped about 5 or 6 times a day), we all got off and stood on the platform. Unlike the train, the platform wasn't moving - it felt good!!
After Russia, we travelled through Mongolia. The open grassy landscape and views of the mountains were stunning. We passed by Mongolian people living in their traditional tent homes - called ger or yurt. We also saw a great many horses.
After almost a week on the Trans-Siberian Express, I arrived in Beijing (Peking) where I stayed for a few days. The city was fascinating and I loved the Forbidden City (or Emperor's Palace). It is enormous and very beautiful.
I travelled by train from Beijing down to Shanghai and stayed there for three days. During my stay I spent a day with these two Japanese university students. We met in a restaurant and became friends. They spoke good English and I was very happy to learn about Japan from them. Finally, I took a ferry from Shanghai across to Kobe in Japan and started my new life here.
Copyright: Nigel Stott (2007)