I decided the best way to approach this would be to break it up into segments and ensure each was feasible, then see if they all fit together then book it.
Having traveled throughout Europe i was well aware how easy it was to get from A to B via wherever.
So i concentrated my efforts on getting from Moscow, Russia to Beijing, China.
Instantly i was stumped.
Now, let me just clarify a few things, Russia, the all encompassing land of emptiness and a nice lake are still trying to drag themselves out of the communism and the days of making life as difficult as possible for anyone who doesn’t have a surname ending in ‘ski’
Firstly, you cannot buy a ticket for Russian Railways outside of 45 days – Ok, i could deal with that.
Secondly – You cannot book direct with the Russian Railways (that would just be too easy)
So, i quickly realised that there are basically 3 options to buy the trans siberian ticket –
a) Buy it yourself in Russia – Problem is they sell out weeks in advance.
b) Buy it from an Agent – Problem, marks ups of 200%+ and ridiculous delivery charges, Sverty whatever their name tried telling me it costs $80USD to post a ticket to me – And of course these are not guaranteed, if your tickets gets lost – Unlucky.
c) Find someone in Russia to buy you a ticket – Arguably the best option, i managed to find someone (Girl Friday) who offered to get me the tickets and charge me $50USD commission. The ticket prices were reasonable and i could meet her in Moscow to get the tickets. I was all for it until i realised suddenly she couldn’t get me the tickets and her friend was going to sort it and suddenly the commission had risen to $100USD – Instantly i lost trust and was back where i started.
I had come to the conclusiont that really there wasn’t a price for the TSR, Russians just thought of a number, my quotes ranged from (for 1 adult & 2 kids) $1000usd – $3000usd. With the reality being either i got anally pumped by a an agency or turned up myself and tried to book the tickets on the day i had to resign the fact that given an Air China flight to Beijing cost £500 all in and took 8 days less my dream of crossing the worlds dullest nation was not to be.
Straight away i realised the whole railway thing was going to be difficult, China is very much like Russia – The only difference is in China they at least openly rip you off by letting you know you pay more than a Chinese person from the outset – Which i don’t really mind – Well didn’t until i found out it was 200% more.
Then, when i realised Vietnam was going to be the same i was seriously starting to reconsider the whole on land business.
Not just because of the hassle – Had i been traveling without kids id have just set off and hoped for the best. But i felt it important i had some sort of structure in place.
The final Straw came when i realised the FCO advised against travel through Southern Thailand.
My plan of going round the world on land was now in pieces and wasn’t going to happen.