Monday, 6 August 2007

I am not dead. To clarify - I am not dead. I've just been unable to get on to this site. You see, China's firewall stops most western sites opening, including mine, and Japan's internet cafe's are really, really, really expensive. So this is my update. Its small yes, but at least you know we're not dead.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

So, we have finally left Russia. Well after 10 hours of drawn out custom precedures, we left Russia. In effect it could have taken ten minutes, and even that would have given the officials plenty of time to scowl and smoke (not neccessarially in that order). The train ride was cool though. Very few russians on our train as it was very touristy but it was a lovely ride through some stunningly beautiful countryside.

But anyway, we have escaped to Ulaan Bataar, the caital of Mongolia. Everything here is nicer. Not in an aesthetic way, just the opposite infact. Everything here is ten percent dirtier, but the people are so friendly it's hard to care. Their favourite pastime is walking up to westerners and saying their random english buzz words. They seem to enjoy this though, so we let them get on with it in the name of anglo-mongolian relations. The Mongolians also have a rather unhealthy obsession with Genghis (who seems to be called Chingis everywhere else in the world) Khan. They love the little dude. To them he is still very much the hero. It's slightly sad that they see that era as the pinnacle of their civilization, though i suppose it was. It would be nice if they were more forward looking but i digress as I'm sure there was a point to this email but i seemed to have forgotten it. Therefore unrelated paragraphs ahoy.

Mongolia is nice and cheap. 20p an hour for the internet is most agreeable, as is the 20p beer (though my stomach doesn't always agree). According to the guide book 11% of Mongolian breweries regulary fail health inspections. Its kind of like the lottery except most people win, and a smal percentage get bowel complaints.

Oh, my t-shirt in every country is going swimmingly. They're all fairly touristy though and are off little note, all except the moomin t-shirt from Finland. It comprises of a strange scene containg most of the moomin characters. They are all angry at a kangeroo-thing, all except the young moomin who's looking whistfully at a group of tiny mole like creatures at the bottom. The kangeroo-monster says something in finnish but that doesn't help clarify anything. I'll whack it through babelfish at some point and see what's going on in moomin world. Also can anyone clarify who the young hobo (accomodation-impaired) is with the pipe?

I'll probably write again sooner this time, perhaps with something useful. At least something pertaining to what we're doing anyway.

So goodbye for now, to those who are expecting personal emails or replies i'll get on that soon.

A special hello to family, hey mum...

Sandsy - stop hiccuping

Dan - how do

Andy - how's the feet?

Cullsternatot - silly hair

jordane - wispas!

Friday, 29 June 2007

Sorry for the lack of updates, but we're currently in Siberia where the internet is not so good. Plus whenever we've been on the interent we've been forced to do trip planning. Hopefully we're all done now so the next time i get on will hopefully mean more pointless writing and photos. Though tomorrow we travel further to no where - Ikutsk and Lake baikal (largest, deepest, oldest lake in the world).

Take care everyone and see you all in the future.......unless you found this page by random and i don't know you.....................probably won't see you.

Friday, 22 June 2007

quick update in yekaterinburg

We are now in Yekaterinburg after a 26 hour train from Moscow. Rusians are some of the most daunting people to initiate conversations with as they see smiling before you know someone as insulting. however, break the ice and their generosity knows no bounds. Mikhail, an old dude on the trans-siberian, was initially very scary. Eventually we got chatting and he bought us food here and there and was generally a nice bloke. Unfortunately russians are alcoholics. Before 9am he had drunk two bottles of beer. Now, when you stop at a stations its a big thing in russia. Everyone gets off the train to buy food and souveneirs, and unfortunately Mikhail bought Vodka. There of two main rules of etiquette in russia. Turning down something is very rude and once a bottle of vodka is opened it must be finished - oh dear. So one bottle later (of the only brown vodka i have ever seen anywhere including the rest of vodka) everyone was more happy. By the second bottle the vodka wasn't going down so easy. Mikhail wanted to toast international relations, the train, katherine, everything so i resorted to pretending to be asleep. They really don't take no for an answer even if you say you're on medication. It is such a way of life for them it's crazy but if you're going to sell a bottle of vodka for a quid it's always going to be.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Russian doughnuts

It is ten past one in the morning and we are in Moscow. Just a quick blog to let people know that the search is over - I have found russian dougnuts. They're quite dense like a berliner only more so. The jam is very synthetic but perhaps in a good way as it helps breaks the denseness. To be honest i liked it, but then its a doughnut, i was never not going to. I liked it's unique qualities but i'll need a couple more before a rating. For now though bed.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

A church whose name escapes me

Go to our photo pages for a few photos, more to come.....hopefully
ok, so it's raining in Petersburg so w're in an internet cafe typing up some stuff. I was thinking about typing up my entire journal but i seem to have wrote an awful lot for each day so i probably won't right now. I'm currently uploading some photos but this connection isn't exactly fast so i might not be able to load many. Still, enough to wet people's appetites. Thanks to people who have said hey and stuff, so Здравствуйте (thats hello - wierd thing is katherine can now read this!!) back to you guys. A big hello to my family as well. And to the Bryson's of course - Finland has excelent doughnuts Rob which is the most important thing to know before you go to Scandinavia.

Russia is both great and not so great in equal measure. Crossing the border was terrifying in every way. It wasn't manned by civil servants like a normal country but the military and they aren't paticulary cudly. The main problem was that no-one spoke English so we never had any idea what was going on. Some how we hadn't made any mistakes on all our forms and we were allowed through. Petersburg is nice but it is very European in appearance. There are odd Russian touches here and there but if it wasn't for the drunk army soldiers and crumbling buildings you could be forgiven for thinking that you were in Paris. Tomorrow we have an eight hour train journey to Moscow which will be interesting. we can't read our tickets at all but the lovely lady at the hostel translated everything for us so hopefully we'll be ok. met some great people at the Hostel and we've been out with a few of them from our room. A real good mix of backgrounds and you're always bumping into someone new. Backpacking is strange. We're not locals, but we're not tourists. We're very much an underground group that you probably won't notice. We eat with the locals (pointing at the menu always works, if not pot noodles are 6 pence) and we head to the tourist destinations with the tourists (though we can't afford to do more than one tourist thing a day). Ask anyone in the hostel what they did today and they'll answer that they wandered. This is what we do and its the best way to see a city. No metro's or buses. Pick an area and just go. you see so much that way and all of our favourite times have come about by wandering. we wouldn't have seen Petersburg come to a standstill when the traffic lights went down; we wouldn't have seen a crazy dance group bury themselves to their waists in the beach before dancing and we wouldn't have seen all of the fantastic eighties hairstyles and fashions that the russian people enjoy.

Anyway, thats enough for now, i'm of to be shouted at by a supermarket check out girl for not having correct change!

Do svidaniya!