Farewell Russia

Tim Tams in Moscow

We arrive back in Moscow and I’m suddenly tired and beyond caring about anything. I decide I’m getting a taxi to my hotel and give Lari a lift into the city. A man approaches me to offer a taxi and I give him the destination. He gives me the

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Farewell Vladivostok

The end of the line: Vladivostok station

Three crazy Australians find themselves in the late morning taking turns with the photo opportunity at the mile marker statue on the Vladivostok train platform. We have the place to ourselves and take the time to get a few different photos each. The ritual is complete; the

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Vladivostok: The Final Swim

Don tries to look inconspicuous

Natie puts on her bikini in the morning to be ready for the swim and reminds me I have to remember to wear something appropriate. Don is still sick and stays asleep so Lari and I decide to stroll around the hilly streets of Vladivostok making random turns at

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Vladivostok Days

Vladivostok train station..so that's how you spell the word in Russian

The next morning Lari sends me a message telling me that Don has fallen sick, some kind of flu that makes him feel like lying down for a day or two. I do still wonder if this is just his natural reaction to

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Vladivostok Nights

Vladivostok – Golden Horn Bay

Don and Lari head back to their room and Natie and I to her apartment. When I emerge from my shower, she doesn’t look so well. “I’m not feeling 100%. I’ve been sick last week and I’m still recovering. I might stay home instead”. “But we need you to

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Vladivostok: The Lord of the East

Hot Trumpeter Action

The last three days on the train have left us with an overdose of the mobile village. It has been a rollercoaster of bright nights and seedy days and now we are happy to be free of the endless passageway and scamming provodnikas. We arrive in Vladivostok at six in the

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Irkutsk to Vladivostok: Love and the End of the Line

I’m admiring the view of the forest rolling by in the late morning when Don lurches down the corridor, “I can’t…do it…anymore…I’ve got to get out!” he slurs terribly. It turns out his new cabin-mate is a young guy with a bag full of vodka bottles who is determined to drink his way through them

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Irkutsk to Vladivostok: Anger and Flirtation

I wander outside and check the timetable to discover we have a longer stop coming up in half an hour, it will be for about ten minutes. I tell everyone and we agree to go and provision ourselves with cheap beer from a pavement shop at the stop. So we’re all waiting in the passageway

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Irkutsk to Vladivostok: Russian families and James’s perfect woman

I’m not feeling the best in the morning and I know the fireman doesn’t like me at all now. He’s looking at me with the utter disgust that is reserved for behaviour you consider unthinkable. “How is your head?” He asks disgustedly in Russian. I drink half a litre of orange juice followed by a

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Irkutsk to Vladivostok: A Fireman, a Pharmacist and James

Dima at large

Lari and I find ourselves sharing our cabin with a middle aged couple and Don is by himself in another cabin with an array of Russians. Leaving Irkutsk comes as a relief and a release from the unseen pressure. I didn’t realise how much that black cloud was weighing on

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Lake Baikal, Vodka and Fear

Baikal summer transport..

Spike and Zach return at some point in the evening and they are both asleep on Spike’s bed when I wake up. We three Australians and Lukash are up and moving before eight o’clock to get to the ferry terminal for our planned visit to the lake. I also discover my

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Irkutsk: Where the cats have no hair.

Russian Orthodox Cathedral

Church of our Savior

Lukash getting ready to rumble

I only get a few hours sleep before the provodnika warns us that we will arrive in Irkutsk in an hour. I enter a weird hysteria state, thinking we should be aiming to leave our suitcases with Spike and take

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The Train from Novosibirsk to Irkutsk

Hot mirror action! Lari with her Bodyguards

We wake up around ten and begin to explore our surroundings. For this leg of the Trans-Siberian journey we’re travelling first class, which means Lari and I share a cabin and Don is in another one. In the morning we discover that for some reason Don is

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Farewell Novosibirsk

Queen Yulia Vortex of Novosibirsk

Monument to the first traffic light in Novosibirsk.

Yana multitasking at some length..

In a strange balancing of Karma, Lari cleans everything up straight away and the first thing I hear when I awake in the early afternoon is that I have to check under the couch

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The Demon’s Eyes in the Russian Night

Tretyakov Gallery Action

It’s Friday and today has been an emotionally draining time. Later in the day I discover the train tickets are still not ready and I ask him to send them to my couchsurfing host’s apartment directly. I’m glad I’ve already been talking to Alisha for a couple of weeks about my

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Reindeer Meat and Vodka

Safari Restaurant

Don and I have been determined to visit the Safari restaurant ever since Vortex Yulia assured us that they have reindeer meat on the menu. Lukash comes with out of curiosity as well, but with one eye on the vodka menu. We find a lavish restaurant, decorated with all manner of animal

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Novosibirsk Zoo

Mushroom me now!

We surface from the twisted hysteria of the night late in the morning. Lari is much better than she deserves to be and is piecing together the story. Her memories centre on thinking she was going to die at any moment. She’s busy apologising and thanking everyone when I hit the

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One Totality and Vodka to go thanks…

The Black Sun shows itself…

The end of Totality is like hitting a release for your soul. “Like a reset for your brain”, as my Swiss friend told me just before I saw my first Totality. The end result is the kind of endorphin rush you might get after good exercise, good ecstasy or

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The Siberian Eclipse

Bouncy Russians!

Russian Hippies!

In the morning only the super blister and a few smaller ones on my ankle remain, the others have retreated to nothing more than patchy red marks. I’m happy with the progress and they don’t affect how I feel during the day at all, it’s just a mild inconvenience

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A Chef in Siberia

I wake up with my phone signalling a message has arrived. Bleary eyed, I try to focus on the screen to discover Vanya will be going shopping in an hour and I should be heading over to Yana’s apartment to leave with him. I’m pleased to notice the blisters on my arms are shrinking and

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Yana’s Conversational English Class

Traveller's Coffee Dome Action

The Travellers Coffee dome we are meeting Yana at is a delightfully unique building that takes the form of a ten metre diameter geodesic sphere. In the day the windows make beautiful reflections of the clouds and surrounding buildings on the street. At night soft area lights fill each of

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The Ob Sea Dump

In the morning I feel fairly normal again, a little tired, but coherent and very thankful to Vortex Yulia and her family for looking after me through what could have been a terrible episode. Her parents both ask how I’m feeling and I am so much better than yesterday. The fever has gone, but the

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The Island of Fevered Blisters

Blistery Goodness

I’m not feeling entirely normal in the morning. Bouts of dizziness roll over me on top of the lethargy I normally associate with being awake before midday. I am sooooooooo not a morning person. However, this morning is made even worse by a little visit from the blister fairy. There are blisters

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Altai, Condoms and Eclipse Chasing…

Hot Russian Folk Singing Action

Hot Russian Singers Video

We get started in the mid morning with a few missions in mind for the day. The plan is to try and get down into the Altai countryside, at least to or past Barnaul; a town best known in Russia for being a

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Of Dachas, Lakes and the Russian Utopia

Yana, our beautiful Ukrainian painter

We wake up late in the morning to discover Yana and Yulia sunbathing in their bikinis in the back yard. Lari is still sensibly wearing a long sleeved shirt with trousers and a wide-brimmed hat; a sure sign of an Australian encountering direct sunlight. Oleg produces two tins of

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Dacha, dacha, dacha, dacha … SAMOGON!

Hot Dacha Action

After the kaleidoscopic madness of the night before, we sleep for most of the day. We’re meant to be going to the family’s dacha later in the afternoon, which is about when we start waking up. A dacha is a small summer house with an attached garden that many Russian families

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Novosibirsk Nights: Beer and Hippies

Our lovely Yana

Yana arrives from her work and joins us. She is a rather beautiful Ukrainian woman with jet black shoulder length hair, a striking and very expressive face enhanced only by her firm, but curvaceous figure. Her heart is large enough to care for the whole world, which is why she and

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Novosibirsk – The Party Begins

Lenin, Takoi Maladoi

In the morning we each demolish a noodle bowl and then line the windows in the corridor of the wagon to watch the scenery change as we enter the city. Yulia and I exchange a few messages as she explains where to meet. We exit the train and stand waiting, wondering

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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 window.

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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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