Man, it has been a LONG time since i updated this thing. There is so much to talk about! As you can see from my Blog entry, i am now in Shanghai China. A lot has happened since Moscow, so i will try my best to tell you all the detail of the last 2.5 weeks, but some of it has become somewhat of a blur. "Ah, here it goes...."
So, the rest of Moscow. I can't really remember now it was that long ago. The following night from my last post there was more drinking...of course. Me and Liam checked out another museum, came back and the Melissa and Nicole the Canadian girls were hanging out, making a cheap-ass meal of Dolmio pasta i believe?! And we started drinking some beer (Baltika i love you),well at least some of us were drinking beer....
The girls had said they had found a really really dirt cheap bottle of beer from the supermarket. I have no recollection of what it was called, all i know is that it looked suspect, and the taste?! Watery liquorce piss. That'sthe only way i can describe it frankly. They continued to drink their 'beer' while me and Liam were happily slurping on our tasty Baltika until, after a full bottle of their rye beer and research on their ipod, we found out that the beer was beer, but non-alcoholic?! hahaha GUTTED! What a waste of unneccessary pain. Upon hearing this news, we headed out to a store to get some more booze and some disgusting sugary, crunchy bread (thanks Liam), where we met a wonderful lady who thought she was Julia Roberts or something?! Anyway, we continued to drink a LOT of booze and chatted the night away.
Next day, felt ok. I've been amazed at how i can suddenly now handle hangovers a lot better?! But what i have been feeling a lot more is what Melissa and Nicole call a 'Reverse hangover'. I never knew that there was such a term for that, but is EXACTLY what happens to me everytime i drink. So it's good to know that i'm not alone on that one. So next day, did a bit of shopping for the train and met up with our Honcho for Moscow who introduced us to the rest of the group we would be travelling across Russia, Mongolia and China with. We were intrigued to find out who the other 4 were and what they would be like. The other 4 were Brenda, Milou, Kim and Liz. The first 3 were all from Amsterdam and Liz from London town! So there were 6 girls and 2 boys in total in our group. I was down with that, what guy would not want to be surrounded by 6 lovely girls?!
Our lovely honcho Marina took us on a sightseeing tour of Moscow, where we visited an art Museum and saw some famous sculptures and then went to a traditional Russian Church where we were lucky to see a cermemony being performed which was absolutely incredible, i was really blown away by that. Then after some more walking around in the freezing cold wind and snow, with some SICK jokes from Marina about snipers waiting on top of the Russian Parliament building waiting to shoot tourists who take too many pictures?! Yeah, we all believed her at first! Real sick jokes. We ended up going for traditional Russian food, which was really cool. Dead bears nailed to the ceilings, and i had some traditional Russian dish called 'Borsch' which was awesome, and some more of the Rye beer that the girls were drinking the night before. It was actually enjoyable! The Cans girls took my word for it.
The next day, we visited the shop again to get our cheap food for the train and grabbed a bottle of the all important vodka each. We were going to be on the train for 4 days straight, so Vodka was essential. The train looked awesome. We had 6 berth carriages up until Irkutsk which had a enclosed section containing 4 beds in 2 bunks and then on the opposite side facing those, there was a 2 bed bunk. Hard to explain, but it was cosy, and all open plan. So no doors, no privacy and loads of sweaty feet everywhere. Liam who was on the top bunk, at one point said that he had his foot IN the carriage wardens hair?! Massaging her head?! Revolting! There was a bathroom which just basically flushed your s*** (literally) onto the tracks below, and there was hot water provided which we could use to have tea or pot noodles mash etc. Strange way of living. But, we became accustomed to these living conditions. We were all disgusting, no shower for 4 days, eating pot noodles and pot potato mash (which is actually quite tasty) by the fourth day we were all very ready to get off the train.
The first day on the train was fun, we sat down chatting when the radiators started booming out the hottest air ever experienced,and with the sun shining in.We were roasting, bad times. Then suddenly a little babushka came by 'chinging' bottles of cold beer in her little cart. We bought a bottle each and suddenly everything was on the up. We drank the rest of the afternoon away, gazing at the stunning snowy Russian forest through the window and then began to play some drinking games in the evening. Sociables i believe we were playing, a fund drinking game to get to know each other. Everyone got on incredibly well, it was fun times. I got to drink Vodka neat "cause i'm a man" which was actually not so bad, but things got very fuzzy.
Day 2 on the train, was blurry too. We stayed up drinking to late the night before, and so i think we pretty much woke up, had a potato mash breakfast, and a greazy treat from the Babushka then waited patiently for beer o'clock which got earlier every day. It couldn't have come arouond sooner. We drank, played cards and then, we needed to do our first beer run. I will explain....
The trans-mongolian on the way through Russia has many many stops along the way in various towns and cities. So when you stop, you can hop off the train for a certain amount of minutes, it varies at each stop, where there are little stores selling beer and various other bits. So, with our carriage staff not speaking a word of english, me and Nicole had to 'man-up' and became the infamous 'beeros', basically a hero, but for beer. Where we would run outside, grab a load of beer and Melissa and Liz would wait by the door where we would throw the beer to them in dramatic style as the train started moving and we were running alongside the train and have to leap in doing a barrel roll in the carriage....yeah,our imaginations ran wild. It wasn't dramatic at all, but it was fund. We grabbed like 20 something beers and got back on the train and drank the rest of the night away. This time though we got in serious trouble with the carriage staff for being too loud as the rest of the carriage was trying to sleep. We rebelled and tried to keep the noise down. That was the theme of the whole train journey really. We met some interesting friends along the way too. Some that stick to my mind are the big Russian guy who fell from his bunk bed! We were watching him sway all night untill finally he fell off to an almighty thud, kicking his girlfriend in the chops on the way down i think. It was far from graceful. Then there were the irritating kids soccer team we met, that were just hassling us for hours. I performed my chimp face and various other faces which they found highly amusing, until they got in big trouble from their coach and got a clip round the ear. hehe, i did feel sorry for them tho. Then there was the butch Judo girl who basically stalked us for hours on end. trying to learn english by reading Brendas Dutch to Russian translation book?! We tried telling her, but she just didn't understand! Oh boy, then there was teh restaurant cart night. Yikes. It started off civilized, had some cooked food in the restaurant, the girls had wine,i had a beer, then a Russian group sat across the table from us. He was a chief policeman in Russia, and had a bottle of Vodka and invited us over for a shot. I happily obliged. It was delicious. I am now a big fan of drinking neat Vodka, it's great! Has to be good vodka tho, of course. One shot, turned into 3/4 bottles. It was incredible. The shots became wine glasses full of vodka. I am proud to say though, Me, Liam and Milou all out drank those Russian guys. The policeman was absolutely smashed, singing at the top of his voice, and his friend who could speak some English was equally as smashed. It was awesome fun. They insisted in buying the vodka too. So generous. Meand Milous offered to buy a bottle, and the guy, Darras his name, insisted that in Russia, it is their priviledge to buy visitors drinks for them. I can't tell you how friendly and nice Russian people were. There was a lady in the restaurant who was eating with her family and she insisted on buying dinner for us all,as she didn't want us to suffer eating crappy noodles anymore! Bloody awesome!
So after 4 days of smelling and drinking copious amounts of alcohol, and many many noodle bowls later, we arrived at Irkutsk where we then got a coach up to Lake Baikal, the larget and deepest freshwater lake in the world. It was absolutely breathtaking at the lake, so amazing. The area had a ski slope nearby, and had beautiful log cabins and chalets scattered over the mountains surrounding the frozen lake. The lake, which is absolutely HUGE was completely frozen over. Cars were driving across the lake instead of taking the roads, people were having BBQs on the lake too, and ice fishing, sledging across. It was crazy. We arrived at our wooden chalet which was absolutely stunning. Lake view, ugh,it was breathtaking. We had breakfast prepped for us on arrival where things got, weird. We were all absolutely starving and craving nutrition on the account of eating crappy noodles for 4 days, and the hit of fried egg, sausage, toast, fresh summer fruits jam and cakes sent us into some kind of nutrition ecstacy. Liam completely lost his marbles and went into a laughter fit, which sent the whole room into histerics. It was mental. Were all offour t*** on nutrition, it was hilarious. It was probably one of the best breakfasts i've ever had. Then after a well earned shower we met our next honcho, Max.
Max, was, a total douche-bag. What a complete turd. It was his first time being a honcho apparantly, and boy did it show. The guy was Belarussian, hated Russia, hated talking to girls, took us to closed restaurants, got us lost on numerous occaisions, didn't speak Russian fully and didn't want to. God, fury is running through my veins as i type. We hated the guy. He didn't have a clue. It is hilarious looking back on it now (we had many funtimes on the way to Ulanbaataar laughing our t*** off at how ridic he was), but i was close to edge of killing him at one point, it was that bad. We had a wonder around the lake, and then tried to find somewhere to eat. That was a disaster, Max didn't know anywhere to go?! In the end we found a wicked place where we ate fresh Aulm (spelling?!) fish which is frozen and eaten raw, and is only available from the Baikal lake. It was delicious. After so much hate for Max, we decided to get smashed, so we bought a bottle of Baikal vodka that our kind waiter recommended (who looked like Kevin Bacon). It was amazing, things were suddenly much better. We later then went back to the chalet,and went to a nearby bar where we drank another bottle of vodka and got sloppy drunk back at the chalet with yet again another bottle of vodka. I got what the girls called 'messy-girl drunk' as Liam crashed out i was only male there. It was interesting, and extremely messy, we got ridiculously drunk, good times. Melissa slapped me round the face (undeservingly so) and Liz was force fed Vodka, and Liz also did someother corrupt stuff.....I won't get into that tho Liz ;).
Next day, a few of the people were write-offs. But the others went to the nearby Museum which was highly recommended by Max. It was a pile of crap. Totally not worth it. Then, we HIKED, yes Hiked for like 2 hours to take a cable car up a ski-slope to the viewpoint of Lake Baikal which was absolutely amazing. What a view. You should check out the photos. Had some Russian guy wanted a photo with me too. Strange!
We then went to station where there were more f#ck-ups by Max, and we got on the train, the Max saga thankfully behind us and set off for UlanBaataar....
I'm gonna leave this post here. There is just too much to talk about! And i have been sat at this computer in my Shanghai hostel for like 3 hours now, and i'm hungover, it was a heavy one last night. Shanghai is for sure a big party city! So i will update you again either later on the rest of Mongolia and Beijing and Shanghai. Off to Japan on Tuesday, so psyched for that!So guys, hope you enjoyed the loooooong post, hope it didn't bore you to death and i will speak to you all soon. BTW, Facebook is banned in China, so it has been hard to contact you all. Japan i should be back on the communication highway.
Peace and love xx