We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

To reach the sukhbaatar is a major ambition of mine.

Recently (by which I mean about six weeks ago), I ordered a 3D printer kit to be sent to me from China. It was much cheaper to order it directly from a seller in Shenzhen than via an intermediary like Amazon. Because I was in no real hurry to get it – and because I am cheap – I selected the cheapest shipping option – Europe Railway Priority Mail.

My printer has clearly been coming via the Trans-Mongolian Railway, which joins the Trans-Siberian railway north of Mongolia. Given that it has taken over a month to get to Budapest, it has clearly not made the journey on a single train, even on the sections where this is theoretically possible, such as Beijing to Moscow.

I give you my wonderful tracking information. I particularly like “Arrived in changsha chardonnay coagulation loading bays”. Also, let’s face it. “Get to Russia off sharply” is good advice for anyone. (Click to make the image larger).

16 comments to To reach the sukhbaatar is a major ambition of mine.

  • Get to Russia off sharply

    Sound advice for any budding commercial shipping enterprize.

    Presumably being translated from Chinese to English through some local translation server in China (given the lack of access to Google Translate through the Great Firewall)?

    I suspect the original was more like “急切地去俄罗斯” (Ready to go to Russia)

  • Brian Micklethwait (London)


    What are you going to use the 3D printer kit for?

    If the answer is: To make a 3D printer, then my next question is: What are you going to use the 3D printer for?

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    John Galt: The Chinese version of this is here, if you want to check. Sadly, I can’t understand Chinese. The Chinese of “Get to Russia off sharply is “到达俄罗斯下乌金斯克”, which I hope survived my cut and paste. Google translates this as “Reaching Russia, Uzhginsk”, (I would guess Uzhginsk is a place, but I can’t find it on Google).

    My guess also is that some of these translations have gone from Russian to Chinese and then to English, too, so it’s hardly surprising some of the translations are so, er, poetic. (“To reach more blah in Slovakia” sounds like a great title for my autobiography).

    I am of course impressed that such a tracking system exists and works, particularly given the vast number of old and in most ways incompatible railway systems it is being used to track. I guess everything is in shipping containers, and these containers are what is being tracked. Very clever, anyway.

    Brian: yes, the intention is to assemble a 3D printer from the contents of the 3D printer kit. I will then use the printer to print stuff of some kind. The point of this exercise it to teach myself about 3D printing, essentially. (I have a couple of friends who have already done this, so having help is likely to be helpful.

  • I am surprised the cheapest option was not to put the container on a ship in a far eastern port and unload it in the UK. That said, everything made sense until the train went from Slovakia to Hungary; I’d have thought the Czech republic a better route towards the chunnel, which this sea-transport-disdaining printer is presumably heading for. However after enduring ‘still more blah’ in Slovakia, perhaps taking the first train to anywhere seemed like a good idea at the time. 🙂

    I like the idea that one reaches Erlian by leaving the silver Hal station. Erlian sounds like a place to encounter elves, not 3D printers.

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    I am surprised the cheapest option was not to put the container on a ship in a far eastern port and unload it in the UK.

    Yes, me too. It is fascinating, though, that the only viable land route for getting things from East Asia to Europe by land remains the trans-Siberian railway. The more obvious and historically more important route through Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia (call it the “Silk Road”, just to choose a random name) is completely impossible for now. The Chinese are doing lots of talking about establishing a “New Silk Road” through that region. This will certainly require a negotiating strategy involving fewer scruples than most western countries now possess.

    That said, everything made sense until the train went from Slovakia to Hungary

    It went from Kosice in far eastern Slovakia, and then on to Budapest. Budapest is the first major city to the west of Kosice, which doesn’t surprise me too much. Probably some mountains are being missed by going south, too. What does surprise me a little is that it crossed from Ukraine into Slovakia somewhere near Uzhhorod. That’s a pretty obscure routing, I would have thought – Kyiv-Lviv-Katowice-Wroclaw-Germany would have made more sense to me. Alas, we have limited information as to the precise routings within countries.

  • Bharata Vishwanath

    somewhere near Uzhhorod

    That is next to Mordor, no? 😆

  • The Pedant-General

    BLimey – I wouldn’t have had Yekaterinberg as far West as it turns out to be. I fondly imagined it to be on the Kamchatka peninsula (which is why I checked as it seemed a rather roundabout route…)

    And +1 for “still more blah”
    Suspect that’s an edge case trap in the software…

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    Bharata Vishwanath: Carpathian Ruthenia: a place of interesting (although not always pleasant) history.

  • AlexB

    Just how big is Shenzhen operating centre? 😮

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Uzhhorod sounds dwarfish, so another name for the lonely mountain?

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    “horod” means “city” in Russian. Uzhhorod sits on the Uzh river, so “City on the Uzh river”. “Uzh” apparently means “snake” in an old West Slavic dialect, so “City on the Snake River”.

  • lucklucky

    A friend of mine also bought a 3D printer recently, i have to asking how is it going. Like others i am surprised also that the cheapest route was not a ship.

  • bobby b

    OT, but, Tevo?

    No matter the brand, could you possibly come back later when you’ve formed an opinion on the choice you made or . . . whatever thoughts come to you after having used your choice for a time?

    Between my various hobbies of weaponry and model railroads (am I a geek or a nerd? I never remember) I can see lots of uses for this tech, I just want others to iron out the problems first.

  • The connotations of strange names are wonderful. Uzhhorod does indeed sound dwarvish. “City on the Snake River” might be a location in Lovecraft where something you really don’t want to meet rules, but “Snake River City” is obviously some town in Wyoming where shootouts were a daily occurrence and “an honest man was the only law for 500 miles”.

  • Michael Jennings

    bobby b: I have ordered a Tronxy X5, which was recommended by a friend who has one too. Knowing someone who has gone through the various issues with this particular model already is going to make it easier, hopefully.

    Yes, I think I can commit to writing something about my experiences when I have played with it a bit.

  • Mr Ed

    That said, everything made sense until the train went from Slovakia to Hungary

    Stranger things have happened there, like a whole city Kosice (and more) going from Slovakia to Hungary, in 1919 (in all but name) and again in 1938.

    And ‘Leave Russia induct lobo‘ conjures up images, ‘lobo’ being ‘wolf’ in Portuguese and Spanish.