Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Guest post submitted by bleedingdirt_doll
After 4 hours of bus ride, I had to alight at Lithuania to change to another bus to Moscow. The wind was blowing and I was wearing layers of clothing and I was freezing even after I pulled my parka hood over myself....I was feeling out of place as everyone was staring at me like I'm some alien from Ching Chong land.
I was rubbing my hands to warm myself while being impatient that I had to wait 1.5 hrs for the bus to arrive.
After 12 hours being the only Asian on board the bus among 20 other Russians and Latvians, we passed Latvia and finally arrived at the Latvian-Russian border.
The numerous documents I need to have to cross the Russian border.
Invitation letter, Visa, Insurance...
I spent my next hour and a 1/2 at the Russian Customs...being asked all sort of questions...in Russian. I was starting to panic, again. I know no Russian and no one speaks English and they were holding my passport, UVing it, calling the embassies to check on me, and I'm alone in a place no one wants to go to. And they were giving me the stare, you know like I'm a spy sent to infiltrate them. Okay, I watched too much Hollywood spy movies.
So in the end, the bus attendant came and helped me out by conversing with the Russians and translating back for me. The Latvian-Russian border has yet to see a Singaporean Passport so far and given my age, they didn't know how to deal with me as they thought it was kind of suspicious. But in the end, I convinced them that I was just backpacking and flying home from Moscow, and they let me go.
And the passengers who waited for me on the bus looked like they were about to shoot that Asian girl (me) with their Kalashnikov AK.
Cornelia finally got to Russia!! Aren't I glad? I'm the 2nd in my family to have set foot in Russia.
Moscow - can you say, Caviar, Vodka, beautiful fur coats and HOT HOT HOT RUSSIAN GUYS.
But 1st, I had to get things sorted out. Rubles, maps, visa registration, etc... before I could head out to town to get some eye candy (guys).
I came prepared, knowing that there would not be a single English sign in Moscow, but was crossing my fingers, hoping that there just might be English signs in the metro. Instead, I spent 40 minutes lugging my 20kg backpack around looking for the metro station. When I finally did, the destination signs on the platforms looked like this:Enough to scare the crap out of any primarily English speaker's pants.
But hey, after the days I spent in Moscow, the metro system was relatively easy for me to navigate. All I did was remember the colors and count my stops, like I did in Tokyo, except it's far more challenging than Tokyo. Maybe I'm just smart or maybe I've been on too many Metros that it all came natural to me.
And the Moscow metro must be one of the most efficient underground systems in the world, with a train approaching every 2 minutes, and they are fast, even though these trains have aged back to the Soviet era. The occasional blackouts in the underground made me shriek twice in the train and embarrassed me. I'm afraid of blackouts.
Anyone who knows me knows how terrified I am of heights. And the escalators to the bowel of hell in Moscow metro stations scared me so much that I was gripping on to the side so hard, and couldn't help envisioning myself tripping over my own clumsy foot and tumbling 9 stories down to my own death. It was only 1/2 way down on the escalator in the picture. It takes 3-4 minutes just to get down/up.
Outside of Red SquareSt. Basil Cathedral
Lenin's tomb on the upper left side of the picture.
And I was off to visit Lenin in his Mausoleum. That was one of the things to do on my "100 things Cornelia must do before she dies". No cameras or phones were allowed in there. It was a quick affair.
I called my dad to tell him about my whereabouts and also to annoy him.
"Dad, I'm about to enter Lenin's tomb, can you believe it?? And I bought him flowers."
"Lenin's a murderer."
"No, he's a great revolutionist"
Have you ran into hard times in another country and the language barriers made it tougher? Where?