Travel the Trans-Siberian from your computer

Russian train

I have a bit of a thing for train journeys. Back in 2006 I travelled from Moscow to Vladivostok on the Trans-Siberian railway. The journey takes around a week if you do it non-stop, but I spent about a month covering the 10,000-or-so kilometres. Although the romance of the rails might be all but dead in the UK, it certainly lives on in Russia.

It was one of the best journeys I can imagine. I shared a compartment (and vodka) with a bunch of Russian wrestlers, made friends with a cider-drinking man called Vladimir who helped me buy a new camera, then discovered the greatest lake in the world before arriving in Vladivostok, a wonderful city perched on the edge of the Pacific.

However, despite having some amazing stuff to see, the Russian government seems to have next to no interest in promoting the country as a tourist destination. The visa application alone is enough to put most people off, so it’s good that Google Russia has stepped up with its amazing online tour of the railway.

What they basically seem to have done is to stick a camera out the window for the entire journey, chopped the film down into manageable chunks, then wired the whole thing up to a map with highlights marked. It means you can jump between points on the journey, get additional information, and generally experience the bits of the trip you’re most interested in, from your desktop.

Now this is never going to be as good as doing it for real (trust me on this one), but the lack of flashy graphics and tourist board-supplied hype does make it a great way to get a taste for one of the greatest train journeys in the world. Go take a look for yourself.

(There are also a bunch of photos from my trip on Flickr, but be warned – I never got round to typing in descriptions of each photo!)

I’m back. I’ll be with you shortly.

Giant panda

As you might recall, I’ve been away on holiday. I’m back now, reasonably recovered from jetlag and eager to get back to work. Well, eager-ish.

If you sent me a message while I was away and I haven’t responded yet, hang on just a little longer. I’m working through my emails so I’ll be in touch shortly. And if you’re been meaning to drop me a line but decided to wait till I got back, now’s the time. Knock yourself out.

(Picture: a barely-relevant holiday snap taken at Chengdu panda base.)

I’m going missing for a while

planeRegular clients, look away now. You know this already. For everyone else: I’m off on holiday, so don’t expect to hear from me for bit. I’ll be back in three weeks or so.

I won’t be completely out of touch, so if you were thinking of dropping me a line, don’t let the fact I’m not in the country stop you. I’ll be checking my messages while I’m away – I’m just not entirely sure when or how often. So don’t expect an immediate reply.

It’ll be quiet here till I’m back, but if you’re desperate for updates then check Flickr. I’ll probably upload photos for safekeeping as I go.