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July 26, 2006

fresh off the train

i've just completed the second leg of my trans-mongolian journey, and arrived today in irkutsk, russia, from ulan bataar, mongolia.

i've made a ton of notes on the journey that i'll turn into longer writing pieces later, but suffice it to say that i am in love with the way that i am winging it through this trip with plans that firm up at the last possible moment, and everything works out ok regardless.

the ride itself was excellent. i booked a bed in a 4-bunk "kupe" or 2nd-class compartment, and ended up with three more-or-less friendly Russians in my car. after having a few conversations using whatever common ground we could find between their english vocabulary, and my 4 words of russian, they disembarked after the first day, which left me with my own private train compartment for a day!

being the intrepid partier that i am, i spent a fair amount of time napping and listening to old Love and Rockets songs off my iPod while watching the Siberian countryside stream past the window.

i have a few days here in scenic Irkutsk, and then on the 28th i board the trans-siberian train for an epic 4-day train journey to Moscow! i'll be packing lots of groceries and vodka to fortify myself for the journey.

that's enough time spent writing for now, it's time to go explore this fascinating new land where cars obey pedestrain crossing signs and don't constantly use their horns to signal their presence to the world. stranger in a strange land, indeed.

July 28, 2006

heading out on the trans-siberian

i am a few minutes away from heading off to the train station to catch my 88-hour train to Moscow, which involves travelling thousands of kilometers across Russia and crossing five time zones. given the extremely high cost of a kupe (2nd) class sleeper ticket, i've opted for platskartny or 3rd class, which is described by lonely planet as a "refugee camp", and my handbook as "not advised for long journeys", but it's the mode of transport that most backpackers are now favoring, given that it's 20% of the cost of a 2nd-class ticket. and i hear good things about it, despite the bad press from the guidebooks.

there won't be any blog updates for the next 4 days until i reach Moscow. looking forward to experiencing one of the world's most famous train journeys, and the longest train journey of my life!

August 1, 2006

houston, we have landed in moscow

after an epic 88-hour journey in 3rd-class on the trans-siberian railway, i have now arrived in moscow.

i stumbled off the train at 4am with a wicked vodka hangover, courtesy of the english backpackers that i met on the train, and watched some truly shifty activities at the moscow train station waiting room as we napped for a few hours and waited for dawn to arrive so we could call up the hostel and get directions.

after tromping through the moscow metro system and roaming around until we found our hostel (and then discovering the 8 flights of stairs involved in getting there... next time i'll take the elevator), dropped off our luggage, and went around moscow to explore all day. standing in red square less than a month after arriving standing tiennamen square was surreal.

things here feel much closer to europe than anywhere i've been in months. there's a lot of energy (and money) in this city, and i'm really enjoying the capitalist wild west feeling that is here. definitely a major lifestyle change from mongolia!

August 2, 2006

chance card

i've found that given the length of time that i'm travelling for, and the fact that i'm making up my itinerary as i go, there are a fairly large number of random surprises that occur along the way.

today's Chance card from the game of Gone Living:

Surprise Tax. Belarus and the United States are having diplomatic tensions, so the cost of a transit visa for US citizens has increased from US $40 to $180. Deduct $140 from your travel budget.


August 5, 2006

a lazy russian afternoon

today the sunshine broke through several days of overcast skies, and was cheery enough to even stir my hungover self (beer and vodka and backpackers are always a rough mix) out of bed and into the warm, sunny streets of st. petersburg.

i am proud to announce that i did almost nothing of any value whatsoever today, just uploading all of my pictures to flickr (finally caught up on the 100s of photos i hadn't uloaded yet), roaming in and out of churches and historic-looking buildings, and wandering around the streets of st petersburg. all of the energy and "big cityness" of moscow has evaporated here, so the people move slowly through the streets and they actually smile now and then.

this afternoon i was also happy to find the fastest internet access i've come across since i left on my trip, and had some pepperoni pizza at pizza.ru which was so perfectly like the pizza i grew up on in the 80s that i couldn't help but look around for a can of hansen's soda and a cocktail-table game of galaga or crazy climber to complete the scene.

it's summer and life is good.

August 6, 2006

spontaneous chorus

while sitting in a sidewalk cafe in st. petersburg, a chorus of russian girls showed up to serenade our tables. i think this is related to a chorus contest currently going on in a nearby church, but we never did find out what the story was behind this event.

About Russia

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to gone living in the Russia category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Peru is the previous category.

Singapore is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.