Sunday, October 21, 2007

Crime and Punishment

Ok so Dostoevsky got there first but I'll see what I can do with this story of modern Russia. It all stemmed from lack of food, most shops in Mongolia serve nothing but "choco-pies", and lack of sleep, whilst camping I have been kept awake by biting insects, wild dogs, hurricaine force winds (nearly) and the fact that I always seem to put my tent up on top of a hole or on a steep hill. So we finally made it to Siberia after the bizarre Mongola/Russia border and on to the town of Gorno-Altaisk. This place is, according to the Lonely Planet, "a narrow ribbon of Soviet concrete blandness". They weren't wrong. Due to inclement weather we elected to stay at the biggest hotel. The description for this "crumbling Soviet slab" with shared seatless toilets and no shower (well there is actually one for the whole hotel now) finishes with the fact the "Lenin points accussingly to its door". This is true, infact the Lenin statue pointed straight through my window. I have a feeling he was trying to tell me something.

Anyway if I could remember more I would talk about the over excitement that comes from staying in a town for the first time in over a month. Really all that happened was that I had no food, alot of beer, even more vodka (courtesy of an increasing strange set of characters who inhabited the Medea bar on a Friday night. Come Saturday morning it came to light that I was short a wallet, $600 and my mobile phone. I probably have photos of the culprit but the police inestigator kindly advised me that any true investigation would take a long time and that I should simply report them as lost. And so the chain smoking and bureaucratic world of the Russian police force was revealed to me for 4 hours whilst I had photos of my pockets taken, gave 4 million personal details that couldn't possibly be of any importance and got laughed at by assorted men in tracksuits who wandered in and out. I have been told that I was very lucky it was so quick. And having waited 4 days for a police report in China I guess that relatively it was. However I'll be glad not to get involved with the Russian police again as I'm a little unsure about the amount of pieces of paper I signed without understanding anything that was written on them.

Now it's off to Kazakhstan where hopefully my luck will change and I'll win the lottery. I'll let you know when it happens.
This was originally written on 19 August 2007. It is from my summer trip from Beijing to Birmingham.


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