I shot this series on the Trans Siberian Railway last Christmas, using a 35mm point-and-shoot. Back then I had a job in a travel call centre in London. The one good thing about it was the perk of getting discounted travel – particularly on unpopular trips like the Trans Siberian in winter.
The journey took three weeks, starting in Beijing and ending in St. Petersburg. We got off the train and stayed overnight in Ulaanbaatar, Irkusk and Moscow on the way. The days were short and the sun set on a completely different landscape than the one it rose upon. The first night on the train we fell asleep passing factories in northern China and woke in the Gobi desert. In Russia we went through seven time zones but all the timetables and clocks on the train and in the stations were in Moscow time, which added to the sense of surreal dislocation.
It felt like a disjointed dream. One day I was working in a windowless basement wearing a telephone headset, the next I was journeying across half the world. I was overwhelmed by the sky and the train tracks, the freezing temperatures and the saturated colours, and feeling so transient, disorientated and disconnected. Taking photographs intensified this sense of being outside of the experience.
— Dee O'Connell