Somewhere past Kirov (MT 11.13) (Wed) 12 May 2010

Over the next week, my days and locations will gradually become more and more ambiguous as I travel through what is called the “Great Trans-Siberian Time Warp”.

I’ll be going through 8 time zones and I’d have little idea of where I am save for the black and white distance posts along the railroad tracks showing our location in terms of kilometers from Moscow and the platform stops that we make. I strain my neck out the window, hoping I don’t get my head lopped off by an electical pole and try to catch a reading glimsp of the posts whizzing past at however fast the train was traveling. I usually end up retreating into the carriage after about 10 minutes of straining with my hair sticking out behind me horizontally.

I’ll be scribbling in my journal at odd times of day and night as I try to come up with the best way to mark my location. I tried using the km posts (e.g. 1460+ km from Moscow), then I tried marking timezones (e.g. Moscow Time [MT] + 2), then I tried marking that with local time as well (e.g. LT 00.14) and then I started doing one or the other and then everything all at once. So I apologise in advance if my post titles start looking a bit absurd.

So here I am, after my first night on the train. Don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to go to China and see Chinese people! Woohoo!

Didn’t sleep too well last night. My Russian neighbours stayed up noisily all night and they kept banging their door. On the other side are the very nice Jack and Vanessa.

The train seems quite violent. It seems to keep lurching suddenly whenever it starts off from a stop. I was hoping that I’ll be able to sleep long and sound, but that didn’t happen. Plus, I got very very cold at night.

My sore throat is getting better, as is my cold in general. (Yay!) I think just having a constant supply of hot water and being forced to stay put in one place (well, not technically) getting some genuine rest is doing me good. Hopefully I’ll sleep better as the week goes on.

Moscow was definitely better than St. Petes. It’s much more cosmopolitan, much more things going on. It’s also more interesting, in terms of the touristy sights. Very different to those in France and the UK.

It’s just a shame the locals are so shit. (I’m to lazy to find a more polite word.) Scott, the American owner of my hostel in Moscow, said that the Russians basically don’t care about tourists. He said that if tourists one day suddenly stop visiting the country, no one would care. There is little infrastructure and such built to cater to tourists.

Although it is the capital city, Moscow wasn’t any better than St. Petes in terms of being more accomodating to tourists. Unlike St. Petes, the Moscow metro have no English whatsoever for signs and station names, so I consider it quite an achievement that I’ve been able to find my way around!

Here is a list of observations I’ve made. The Russians….

– will keep speaking Russian to you even if it’s painfully obvious that you don’t understand a single word

– probably 90% of the population smokes, with as many women as men. (The difference with the Chinese is that, although they infamously smoke a lot, it’s mostly the men who does it.)

– have zero concept of customer service

– a woman who’s anybody would wear 4-inch platform heels and a very short skirt. I will obviously never be anyone of significance in Russia.

– mullets, although not popular, isn’t unpopular either. Kids and adults alike can be seen with a mullet or an almost-mullet hair-do of some sort.


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