When I was twenty-one, I set off from Moscow to Nahodka, near Vladivostok, on the Trans-Siberian Railway. I was headed for a job in Hong Kong. It was August 1968.

A thought started in my head that it would be rather fun to complete the circuit so to speak when I was 71, half-a-century later. That is, to travel from China by train through central Asia - Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan - to Russia. Once that seed was there, it just grew like the giant beanstalk.

I flew to Shanghai in August 2018 and from there made by way by train to St Petersburg. I did have to take a taxi once to make it to the train station for an early start before Xian’s subways started running, otherwise the whole journey was on public transport.

In 1968, I stayed at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow. Second time around, I could not afford to stay there. The room price suggests the Metropol Moscow is a tad removed from its Soviet incarnation when it shared the gloom that blanked the city.  The art nouveau-style hotel has had a facelift and become quite wealthy.  I on the other hand ... have missed out on both of those!