There are three kinds of intelligence: one kind understands things for itself, the other appreciates what others can understand, the third understands neither for itself nor through others. This first is excellent, the second good, and the third useless.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A few funny points about Russia...

It is the land of Nyet...

Quirky cultural differences

Always love the FREE public toilet, god how I missed them whilst i was there. Prices for taking a pee in Russia range from 10 rubles (which will get you a squat on a porter loo of doom) to 15 rubles (which will get you a posh toilet in a shopping center or similar) I must admit, at one point I was desperate and had to take my chances with a street vendor and her porter potty…. Never again! They must operate as some kind of mini business as you usually find a man or woman with a little row of two or three mobile toilets (the sort you get on building sites) tending to them and taking money off people in exchange for a quick pee. They tend to these toilets religiously though, sweeping them out and changing the toilet paper every so often and generally just trying to make sure they are attractive to potential users. One of the toilets is also usually occupied by the vendor, who in my case was a little fat woman who appeared to be reading a copy of the Russian ‘take a break’. She laughed at me for some reason.

Was it clean? Yes actually it was but it was damned uncomfortable, cold, windy and it stank to high heaven. Like I said, never again.

First impressions

On a whole Moscow is very similar to a lot of the world’s capital cities. It’s dirty, busy and every one seems in a rush. The only difference is that it’s covered in dirty perma-snow and on the whole the people are ruder than most. Still, it’s bearable. The snow is less majestic than a thought it would be, the stuff on the pavements is black and grimy and the stuff on the roads is like sludge. All along the edges of the pavements the stuff is piled high up to your waist with deposits of beer bottles and fag ends strewn all along it. The air also stinks. A lot of the cars are very old (the Lada rules here!) and still use leaded petrol, also the skyline seems to be emitting a steady belching black smoke that looks almost purple in the darkness. Petrol is cheap though, 19 Rubles a liter and with 50 rubles to the pound you can do the math.

Home for my stay in Moscow was a hostel called Godzilla’s that was in a pretty central location and right next to the Tsvetnoy Boulevard metro station, which is good. There is a sort of park outside with lost of statues of circus performers, clowns and animals. I find the clowns sort of creepy though, especially at night when they seem to be peering at me all the time. The hostel really is good, we have a double room for the duration, a locker and a choice of two kitchens. Also the internet access is free which is really good. The place is run by a westerner and the staff all speak English and are really keen on giving out information about the city, i'd recommend it to anyone!

(sorry if this sounds fragmented, i copied it straight out from my dairy so it was written in the present tense)


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