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Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Travelling with allergies part 2: From Russia with love

Check out the second instalment of Stephen's travel diary as he and Ollie board the Trans Siberian Express travelling through Russia, stopping in Mongolia and ending in Beijing. Jealous yet? You will be!

"Hi again!

Ollie enjoying some home comfort!
I've now been away from home for over two weeks and you’ll all be glad to hear I’m having SO much fun thanks to all the new countries and the great new foods I've been discovering! Having said that, after spending two days in Moscow in a hostel, Ollie and I were already missing home food so found a local supermarket where be bought pasta and tomato sauce for dinner…sometimes you can’t beat an old classic!

After a pre-departure meeting for our 10 day train journey through Russia, Mongolia arriving in China, I realised that food options were going to be pretty limited while aboard. We visited the local supermarket where I chose foods I knew would be safe like tins of beans, sweet corn, baked beans and tomatoes. As the only cooking facilities on the train was boiling water we decided that noodles was the easiest and best options. I used my allergy cards to look for egg in the noodle ingredients before double checking back at the hostel where the receptionist spoke English and Russian. Having packed enough food to last for 10 days, off we went!

Us aboard the Trans Siberian Express
We arrived in Ikurisk after 4 solid days on the train, then met a guide to show us the local area and lake Baikal. The guide spoke good English so I took advantage of this getting him to help me in supermarkets and restaurants. One of the evenings we all had kebabs and I could see from the stall the kebab was just pork cooked on the open to eat! The final meal in Russia I had Borscht, which I had researched before so knew it was a standard Russian dish of cabbage and potato so was likely to be OK, but I still used the allergy cards to double check. Better safe than sorry!

After a couple of nights back on the train we arrived in Mongolia, where we met a new guide. I knew that eating there should be pretty simple as Mongolia is the home of meaty filling potatoes dishes! Probably the biggest issue I had there is that it tends to be around -15! Still, a real highlight would have to be staying in a get camp and having a local mutton, rice, potatoes and cabbage dish. Mmmm!

I think I’ve been really lucky so far as I've had a guide at each stop along the way as our train package included this, so I’ve taken full advantage of their English and local knowledge.

I’ve been in Beijing a couple of days now and finally have had a chance to use the internet and kick start my entries! We don’t have a guide here, but I have my translation cards and from previous experience the reception is often a great resource for checking labels and advice. Our first meal out in Beijing consisted of rice flour noodles and a range of vegetables and duck all mixed together. The portion was huge as you can see from the picture but it cost just 18 yen (around £1.80!) Bargain! Translation cards in combo with some pointing was necessary for ordering here, as the waiter spoke zero English!

I can’t wait to explore Beijing more. We plan to visit the great wall, forbidden city, temple of heaven and lots more in our remaining 6 days here…Better get our skates on!

Check back soon for more of my travel updates, pictures and to see how I'm (hopefully!) coping with my anaphylaxis abroad.

Stephen :)"

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