Wow. So much has happened since the last timed I blogged.
So picking from Yekaterinburg, we stayed in a hostel that again had no signage to indicate that there was actually a hostel. If only Russia used appropriate marketing and advertising then everything would run a hell of a lot more smoothly.
Did the normal thing in the city. Saw the sights blah blah blah. Ate traditional village sausage and cabbage rolls. You realise that most cities are the same and there isn't much to stimulate my senses. But maybe that is just me. Our plans were to try and organise an excursion to the Siberian countryside. We were advised to use a travel agency close to our hostel. The directions we were given led us to a authentic soviet apartment. The only problem was we were unsure of the number. So we were hanging about knocking on random doors looking for a travel agency in an apartment block and typically there were no signs to suggest a commercial venture. There are many posts available for Marketing Consultants in Russia. Finally we called up and found the place. It was a tardis. You open the double sercurity door and a newly refursbished lamenated floor computers everywhere apartment is in front of you. A huge contrast to the run down state of the apartment block. Cut a long story short we organised a trip to the countryside and were put up in a guesthouse in a Village call Byn'gi with a German called Stefan....
So after a 1 hour drive our adventure in Byn'gi started. Stefan, his wife Olga and their Student exchange/ friend/worker called Lily greeted us. All very nice people and we were filled with tea and coffee. Stefan took us on a tour of the surrounding area which included a very small Lenin statue, a leaning tower and a gold mine which we were expelled from. It was quite a surreal experience, which sums up our time in Byngi. So our first night we had a Banya which is a traditional Russian sauna. In a very naive fashion I asked what the dresswear was for the banya knowing fine well it was the birthsuit. Stefan said 'nothing, I want to see your crown jewels'. Considering we had just met this man 6 hours previously we ended up in a very hot room naked together checking out what eachother has to offer. The problems started when we waited in the relaxation area between blasts of extreme heat as we were eaten alive by Mosquitos and still suffering the consequences now. Another design flaw in the building of the banya was that our bedroom was above it with a rather large exhaust pipe going straight through the middle of the room making the room hotter than the sun. As experienced travellers we handled this with ease by moaning excessively and sweating profusely.
Day 2 at Stefans started with a breakfast lovingly prepared by Olga. Then a tour of the local town which involved Stefans favourite pastime, wedding watching. We found a wedding party outside the church and literally drove up in a German Plated Volkswagen V4 van into the middle of the congregation of people and just stared at them usually making comments about how the bride looks like a horse and dressed like a gypsy and also how young they looked. On the drive home Stefan asked casually have we ever driven a left hand drive. Which I hadn't and he just pulled over and said ' Have you got a drivers licence'.
'then hop into the drivers seat then'
Considering I had never driven a left hand drive before I was fairly nervous. Compounding this fear was the diabolical state of Russian roads and driving etiquette. Without blowing my own trumpet I did quite well, despite being over taken by a HGV which was a blow to my pride.
We went for a little rafting excursion aswell which included the three musketeers, Stefan, Olga, Lily then the neighbour with the tractor, and then another neighbour girl who was pathologically flat chested and had horrendous upper thigh hair comparable to myself. The rafting was not the most exhilarating but was pleasant and the one rapid we went down we got stuck.
After a bit of relaxation and rejuvenation we were ready for the big evening that Stefan had install for us. We were told it was a traditional soviet dinner dance that people get up and dance between course. However, his description would never prepare us for what we were about to experience. Advised that we had to adhere to the strict dress code of long trousers I had to pull out my only pair of trousers which was a pair of navy blue cragghoppers. I complemented this with my favourite grey primark polo top and my brown leather deck shoes. With this look I was in no doubt I would be a babe magnet to all the Russian chicas all I needed was to smell like an authentic Russian man and have breath smelling of onions and fish and the look was completed.
Arriving at what looked like a school gymnasium from the outside we entered to find a large dance floor in the middle with a stage and then tables and chairs around the outside. The music was a mix of 80's techno house and cheese and was extremely loud. It was described by Marcus as ' eating dinner in the middle of an over 40's singles cruise ship disco or a gypsy wedding reception' I referred to it as having dinner in the middle of Basement on a Friday night. There was a collection diners dancing on the floor dancing so badly that it made me look like Michael Flatley. After our dinner and a couple of bottles of vodka we gained the Dutch courage to hit the floor and tear the place up. With my good looks, great outfit and great moves I had to beat girls and grown women off me. Although the vodka may have alter my memory and perception... I'm quite annoyed that words cannot describe the experience I had last night. It was the most surreal thing I have ever seen or done. Mid dinner there was entertainment which consisted of a belly dancer, a girl with a snake, a closet homosexual male stripper thing that never actually got his meat out and then finally a pole dancer who displayed her perfect specimens of mammary glands for all to see which consequently prompted a heated discussion about the authenticity of her breasts. The entertainment was topped off with a Saxophonist who played something that resembled the blues. It was a bit of an anti climax as he succeeded the topless pole dancer. At 2AM Stefan called it a night and rounded us up and headed back home.
I have had a wonderful time living the Russian village life learning that sometimes money isn't everything and as long as you have enough for survival and for what you enjoy then it makes life a much happier place.