St. Petersburg (Tue) 4 May 2010 (I)

Finally arrived at St. Petes this morning at 6.15am.

We got woken up at about 5.30am and I thought we were just crossing the Russian border, so I just sat in bed waiting for something to happen. Nothing did, so I eventually went back to bed, figuring they’ll wake me up again when border control gets on.

But a little later, the carriage attendant appeared again indicating that I should get dressed and pack up coz we’re actually arriving in St. Petes!

Having Jack and Vanessa around was a god-send. They made everything so much more bearable.

We found our way to the Metro. It turned out that we were all going to the same stop, with our hostels not too far away from each other.

It’s grey and rainy.

I got to my hostel. The lady at reception didn’t seem to speak much English. I told her I’ve booked a room for three nights. She looked at me blankly. So I asked if she wanted my name, and she just asked for my passport.

I gave it to her. She couldn’t find a Russian visa or a Russian migration card. She pointed to my Belarus visa and indicates that it runs out today.

I explained that it expires today because it’s just a transit visa for Belarus. It’s a short term thing. I told her that I don’t have a visa for Russia because Hong Kong passports have visa-free access to Russia for 14 days. I showed her my printout from the Russian consulate in Hong Kong, indicating in Russian and English, the visa-free agreement.

She read it, but was unconvinced. She pointed to a bit at the bottom of the paper that explains procedures for getting a tourist visa should you need to stay beyond 14 days. She said I should have a tourist visa, and she insisted that I must have a migration card.

But I don’t have one! No one gave me one!

I was losing my temper and my patience, but tried to be as smiling, polite and soothing as possible.

I’d just stepped of a two night train journey with little food and sleep, it’s 8am and I was exhausted.

After a very long time of going back and forth, she refused to do anything and just stood there and told me I need to go to immigration to sort it out.

So I asked her where it was. She shrugged, “I don’t know.”


So I said if she could just please give me a room, let me dump my bags and settle down and then we can sort out the lovely migration card later? She just shrugged again and said, “Room absent.”

WTF?! What do you mean room absent? I have booked a room and paid a deposit, so it’s impossible that there is no room!

I dug out my hostel booking print-outs and gave them to her.

That seemed to do something and suddenly there was a room. She took a copy of my passport and BLR migration card and gave me a key.

I hate her.

I was exhausted. Haven’t slept or eaten properly in two days. I changed, drew the curtains, turned off the lights, and climbed into bed. It was almost 9am.


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