Sunday, October 21, 2007

Chilling on the Volga

Well it's been a while but that's because I've been mostly messing around in the desert. Exciting days of dust, 42 degrees in the shade and extraordinary roads. We've been searching for the evaporating Aral sea and the legendary ship graveyard but nothing seems to be where it should be. Kazakhstan is the 9th biggest country in the world and it sure felt that way for a week and a half. But now I'm in Russia, Samara to be precise and although the weather seemed to change completely on crossing the border at least I'm in an interesting Soviet style hotel, complete with fist hole in the door and a room down the corridor that's been completely bricked in. I've spent my time visiting Stalins bunker (11 floors down into the earth), swimming in the Volga (with all the other mad people who seem eager to do this), and visitng rock bars which serve beer by the litre and only occassionally get raided by a dozen policemen with submachine guns. The raid we witnessed was, apparently, to clear out underage drinkers. As I was (I believe) the 4th oldest in the place I felt fairly safe. All very exciting but not as exciting as the Mexican meal I enjoyed last night. That's all for now, I'm doing my best not to end up in any more ridiculous situations but if I do you'll be the first to know.

And finally a link to a few pictures from Kazakhstan. There's better around but it's tricky to upload at the moment so they'll have to do. I hope you enjoy them.
This was originally written on 14 September 2007. It is from my summer trip from Beijing to Birmingham.

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