The Train from Yekaterinburg to Novosibirsk

The standout feature of the train is undoubtedly the provodnitsa in the next wagon. She looks to be in her late twenties and is quite stunning with long blonde hair and a firm figure under her uniform. Don quickly sets up our new plant, Nastya the Tree, hanging inside her plastic bag in the

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Farewell Yekaterinburg

Being tourists..

It’s the end of our last night in Yekaterinburg and the whole group heads for Elven Nastya’s place. I volunteer to make a real dinner for everyone and we stop at a supermarket to acquire everything. Uralski Yulia comes to me, while I’m trying to figure out if the meat I’m looking

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The Yekaterinburg Skyshow

Lari's Tank Sexytime

The day is unbelievably hot. We never thought Russia was capable of such temperatures, but we’re all sweating a lot. We decide sitting in a café all afternoon is a good idea, but visit the Afghanistan war memorial on the way there. A central statue is flanked by two lines of

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Yekaterinburg heights and the Night Mission

The city and its river

We stroll next door into the Scottish pub and settle down for a beer while we wait for our Russian friends. They arrive a pint and a half later and, true to form for most of the Russian Couchsurfers, they don’t want anything to drink. My three wives along

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Ganina Yama Rocks

Ivan leads us into the crime site

Our mission today is to visit Ganina Yama, a huge monastery still being built on the site where the remains of the last Tsar and his family were found. It’s a shallow pit where the Soviet revolutionaries had attempted to dissolve, burn and otherwise erase any evidence

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Dr Scotch and the Blinis

Having finished with my nightmarish morning, I sit down at a café and have a drink while I send messages to my missing Australian friends to find out where they are. It turns out that while I was experiencing some first class travelling blues stories, they were sound asleep and only just woke up. I’ll

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The Good Days… and the Bad…

We wake up late in the morning and Don and Lari head off home to get changed while I potter around the apartment with Elven Nastya. I ask her, “What was happening with you yesterday in the park? You looked like you were on a different planet to the rest of us. And when we

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The Endless Summer Day

Hot Yulia Action

My couchsurfing host Elven Nastya receives another message on her phone and herds us all downstairs where we are briefly introduced to a large group of people, fourteen in all, who will be spread across three cars. And so it is that three Australians, an American guy, Mehmet,

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A Stroll Around Yekaterinburg

As the train rolls through the city outskirts we watch the buildings and parks drift past us in the bright morning sun. The city feels palpably different to Moscow and St Petersburg already. No rush and crazed pressure of Moscow, but a different kind of laid back style to St Petersburg. We are

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Moscow to Yekaterinburg by Train

So we’re finally aboard our first true Trans-Siberian train out of Moscow. Yekaterinburg is about thirty hours away and we sleep long after the sun comes up. I should take a moment to describe the main inter-city trains that run on the Trans-Siberian line. The wagons come in different types for different budgets. First class

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The Day of Nightmare in Moscow

Useless shopkeepers hide here

We find the left luggage room easily and leave our suitcases behind, then decide to head for an internet café. I want to shift money around my accounts and the others want to check email and Couchsurfing requests in cities ahead of us. I cannot login to the internet banking

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The Trans-Siberian Adventure Begins

Near Moscow after sunrise..

So to bring you up to speed, it’s now about eleven o’clock at night and we have to travel back to Moscow overnight to catch our first real Trans-Siberian train to Yekaterinburg twenty four hours from now. We’re all sad to leave St Petersburg; it’s been our first stay together

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Peterhof; Peter the Great’s Summer Palace

After the storm the previous night, we awake to a fine day.  Now, Peter the Great built his Summer Palace, Peterhof, as a response to the French palace at Versailles; he was determined to make this its equal.  It cost more lives than Versailles did to construct, but it is truly magnificent and helped

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The Monkey’s Epiphany

Calm monkey action.

I suppose you’re wondering where I got the picture of the monkey at the top of the page there. More to the point, the more dedicated observer would notice there are three monkeys that change places each time you come to this website to read stories. Well, the truth is they

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Catherine’s Palace and a Storm on a Canal Boat

We decide to go and visit Catherine’s Palace, Tsarskoe Selo, and jump a train and a bus in that general direction.  The palace gardens distract us for hours, they are beautifully laid out and filled with interesting diversions.  The pathways lead us through varied garden styles that are all bursting with life in the

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The Chinese Character Part Three: Work, Family and Country

So the next installment is to talk about the Chinese family and work ethics and then the difference between China, Hong Kong and Taiwan in these troubled modern times. These answers can all be summarized fairly quickly, so here goes. You must listen to and look after your family at all costs. This especially means

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The Fire and Water Ritual

I wake up at some later time to find Don has appeared sleeping on the other side of the bed, clutching a bottle of vodka.  I roll over and go back to sleep.  I manage to stand up around three in the afternoon and shuffle into the kitchen to drink all the bottled water in

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One Night in St Pete’s

We find our way to meet Alisha at a Georgian restaurant nearby the Hermitage.  I immediately look for the Bozbashi soup and order it with a shashlik board while encouraging Don and Lari to try the same.  Don spots the vodka on the menu, discovers you can order a bottle for the table and acquires

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The Chinese Character Part Two: Good Health

Since before the mighty Qin emperor united China into one nation for the first time, the people have quested to find one thing above all others from the natural world; the secret to immortality. Qin Shi Huangdi himself is likely to have died from eating mercury tablets given to him as immortality pills. The stories,

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The Chinese Character Part One: Good Fortune

So a number of people have asked me about what the Chinese people are like and later asked what’s the difference between people from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. So I’m going to write a few entries now to give my definitive answer after long hours of consideration. It can, however, be condensed into

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The Russian National Sport: Qualifying Round at the Hermitage

The river side of the Winter Palace and Hermitage: The correct side to enter from.

Nobody gets out of bed until around eleven, it’s a rainy day and that helps us all enjoy the extra sleep.  We decided that the Hermitage would be the place to visit today, but now we will only have

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Beers and Beaches in St Pete’s

Filled with the kind of overwhelming happiness that only comes from the depths of utter despair, we finish our drinks and surge into the street to begin our journey into the city to discover this Russian pub they call Tolsti Fraer.  After the heavy tension of the last couple of hours waiting for the tickets,

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The Three Kingdoms Tour of China: Part Two

Sun Quan and Sun Ce

So let’s meet the Wus. Actually Wu is just the name of the kingdom that they form in the southern part of the Han empire. The real surname to watch is Sun (pronounced Soon, but quickly). Sun Ce (pronounced Tser) is the ruler of the area when the book

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The Three Kingdoms Tour of China: Part One

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is one of the four masterpieces of chinese classic literature. Written in the 14th Century by Luo Guanzhong, it is shakespearian in style; telling a story based on real events. It covers the period of time from 169AD to 280AD where the

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There’s Always a Shop Somewhere

Xi'an by winter night

The sharp, cold air bites into my face as I walk slowly, scanning the buildings around me. It’s three in the morning and I’m looking for water and beer. The amazing conversation with another Australian guy who’s been living and travelling in China for five years finished one beer early.

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Shanghai Models and the Nanjing Exit

Looking towards Pudong

This room is one of the most astounding things I’ve ever seen. They have spent a lot of time and money creating the ultimate urban planning dream; a complete architectural scale model of the middle of Shanghai city. All the buildings are there placed individually along the streets and by the

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Partners in Crime

Don and Lari attempting to look innocent

The first of my friends, Larissa, or Lari as she’s always known, is due to join me here today later in the afternoon. The train tickets are also meant to be arriving too, so I wind up staying in Alisha’s apartment, surfing the web, looking out the

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Escape from Comfort Zone 428

Jenny’s giggling like a schoolgirl holding up five fingers while she says, “I’ve got five now!” She’s talking about the boxes of party toys they’re handing out at the door of this nightclub as a part of their festive season promotions. Inside each one is a whistle with a light inside it, a confetti popper,

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Travel Blues

There comes a point in a long journey when travelling doesn’t provide the enjoyment you think it should. When you feel more inclined to stay in your room and watch films than go and see yet another tourist destination. Even meeting people wears thin. Always the same questions and answers in the ritual of greeting.

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Mammmoth Ahoy!

I wake up late, feeling particularly calm and relaxed.  The day has other ideas for me that it lets me in on when I try to have a shower.  There is no sign of hot water.  I think that maybe the heater might need to refresh after Alisha’s shower and wait for a while.  Still

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