Not quite two years ago, I had the pleasure of riding trains from St. Petersburg, Russia all the way to Hong Kong. Quite the experience, let me tell you.
One part of it was riding the Trans Siberian Railway from Moscow to Ulan Ude, where the Trans Siberian effectively becomes the Trans Mongolian, as we cut through Mongolia to Beijing. The trains (as there are many that ply the line) vary from relatively nice (the one from Krasnoyarsk to Urkutsk was pretty nice) to pretty cruddy (Urkutsk to Ulan Ude), with various points in between.
Mind you, we never rode in the platskartny class — cars filled with open-plan bunks. We stuck to second class cabins (four people each) and once in first class (out of sheer desperation to get the hell out of Krasnoyarsk).
It’s kind of funny, really. We travelled without showers, good food, air conditioning (or heating), or toilets that really resembled anything sanitary. But that’s also part of the appeal! The Trans Siberian is for people, and tourists are considered a bit of an irritation, I’d wager (“damn kids and their huge backpacks!”).
$22,000 for the trip? I think we did all of our travel for a tenth of that…