After 5 minutes of geting off the train at Novosibirsk we were being harassed by a man with very lanky hair, nasty clothes, a broken nose and loads of severe scars on his face, a typical male resident of the city. we hurriedly lost him and headed for an in ternet cafe to contact our hospitality contact here, Dara, an Englishman, who seemed very cool and happy to help us however he was able, although a 10-month stint in russia has obviously left its mark on his character.
we headed for his house, deposited our luggage and lounged about in his flat with a cat called David Markovich, who at first seemed anoying but we all soon warmed to his antics very much, until the evening. after we'd eaten we tried to go clubbing but none of the doormen would let us in as we were all very drunk and wearing only our tatty traveler's clothes, so we went back to Dara's house and met his flatmate Nick, a 5'2" dreadlocked russian dude who is very friendly indeed.
we went today to Novosibirsk zoo, the only zoo in the world with a 'Liger' (lion tiger hybrid) but it was all quite expectedly upsetting: all the animals (originally from much warmer surroundings than 0°C) paced dejectedly around their tiny enclosures) i found the whole experience pretty depressing, except for the indoor monkey enclosure, whos inhabitants looked like they were constantly having a whale of a time.
In the evening, Oli and I went to a drum'n'bass night, where we met a group of incedibly SAFE 19-20yr old Russians, especially Max(im) and Vlad(e) who bought us loads of drinks (one of whichinvolved downing a shot of flaming absinthe in a mixer and sucking the absinthe vapour out of an upturned wine glass through a straw, wearing antique WW1 trench helmets, and getting whacked over the head with a glass by the gleefull 'Rock City' barman). They spoke a reasonable ammount of English so we were able to talk to them quite a bit and we've made arrangements to see them later on during our stay here. We were also interviewed by a russian MTV cameraman about our feelings on russian nightlife and we should be going out on the air very soon!! we left at about 5am and headed bac k to Dara and Nicks'. Ed went to talk to Katherine.
did not very much during the day and went out again in the evening (this time ed came too) but the night we went to was a JOKE so, after clowning about for a bit like merry fools, we left the club and returned to D N's. dara soon came stumbling back in (absolutely lashed) and told us to go with him to a series of afterparties. ed was in bed by this point and was staying put, but oli and i dragged ourselves out again haeded out into the bitterly cold night with an absolutely pissed Dara as our guide.
the afterparties (little underground dens filled with smoke and more beautiful young russian than you can shake a stick at) we went to weren't very good, we were both pretty tired not drunk enough to make it that funny. but Dara introduced us to a young man who was apparently in the Russian maffia and it was quite an entertaining experience all-in-all. At about 8am, as the day broke, we decided to cut out loses and go back to sleep. on the way back, dara decided to take us to see a very sletchy stolen phone market where there was apparently someone who wanted to kill him. as we neared the place, two Russian 20-stone thugs wearing black puffer-jackets and criminally insane expressions burst out of a grotty-looking porta-cabin and tried to drag Dara inside. We tried to pull him from their grasp but were unnable to. his coat was almost ripped in half and he was dragged through the door, which was slammed behind him. we listenned in horror as the cabin shook and we heard sounds of a beating coming from inside.
After having just heard his 'death-threat' story , I genuinely thought these brutes of men were killing him and we were just standing outside, unable to do anything, witnssing his murder. I'm not sure if I have ever been more scared in my life when the two guys, after the noises died down, burst out again and came at us!
We tried to run but I didn't get very far and oli, who almost got away, wascaptured by a random bystander and we were both taken inside the dark little room as well, where we were surprised to see Dara sitting on a bench, looking a little hurt but still quite alive.
it turned-out that these men were actually the police, and they thought of it as a game to try and terrify us. we sat in the cabin for a few hours and had our pockets turned-out and were very aggressively shouted-at, until another police car came and took us to see a doctor, who told the police that we were a bit drunk and we were thrown in a Russian jail cell until about 1 the next day.
we went to see Madame Butterfly at Novosibirsk Opera House, thinking i t would be a ballet, but we don't really like opera so we left after about 20mins.
after that Ed went off to talk to katherine again and Oli and I went to another nightclub. 'Neff' was full of russian could-be supermodels in a ratio of 3-girls-to-1-guy. It was surely a sight for sore eyes.