Smells have always had the power to transport me to past experiences and memories. I love smelling pumpkin pie and associating it with the comfort of my kitchen at home and being warm and cozy next to the fireplace. I hate the smell of rooms that are empty and clean and cold, because they remind me of my orthodontist’s office and the pain I would feel when my wires on my braces were tightened. Smells have power, and are as unique and varied as the colors of the rainbow.
Being on the Trans-Siberian Railroad for three days, I experienced a lot of interesting smells. There were the smells of people’s deodorants, lotions, and body odor. While my compartment luckily never smelled that bad, the compartment where four of the guys from our program stayed had a very distinct rankness to it. It smelled (as well as felt) warm and sweaty. At one point, it was almost like stepping into a whole other atmosphere, the smell was that powerful. That was not a pleasant smell.
Perhaps my least favorite smell I experienced on our three day journey was the smell of everyone smoking at longer stops. About twice a day, the train would have 20-30 minute stops in various towns. Our group would always be very eager to get out and stretch our legs on the platform, but the air always reeked of smoke. It made sense, seeing as smoking on the train was not allowed and so the stops were people’s only chance to smoke if they wanted to. However, I’ve always been repulsed by the smell of cigarette smoke, and so for me it was always quite unpleasant to get off the train expecting fresh air and instead getting the stench of cigarettes.
There was also the smell of foods and drinks. In the morning, I was always happy to make myself some instant coffee and inhale it. The smell of coffee always makes me joyful, and reminds me of mornings at home with my dad who loves coffee. Even when I was on a train in the middle of Russia, a smell was able to transport me elsewhere. Ramen was another smell that was popular in our compartment on the train specifically. I haven’t really eaten Ramen before the train ride, and so smelling it on the train was a new experience for me. I look forward to smelling it in the future and being transported back to the Trans-Siberian Railroad, and all the memories I’ve made on this trip.
Smells may not be something you can easily view in a blog post, but I do have a video of a beautiful sunset. Imagine the smell of cooking Ramen while you watch it, and you’ll experience exactly what I did. Sunset on the Trans-Siberian