Only we could find a camel in Russia and Ellen gets stranded

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May 5th 2013
Published: May 5th 2013
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Our Russian dumplings with pepper sauce were a success so much so we made them again the following night. With the help of our 'hello we don't speak Russian, please can we have a bus ticket to Kungar write the price here _______ and the time here __________' messages we were successful in catching a 2 hr bus and heading to Kungar - next a taxi to the ice-cave. The taxi driver laughed at the message (at last we made a Russian laugh) but took us to destination. With no message we got the ticket to the ice cave and explored the underground caves- one big one with lots of icicles but the others were more like dungeons and underground lakes.

There were no taxis to take us back to the bus station so we used our dictionary and asked 'telephone taxi please' in Russian to the ice cave ticket staff... we got given the telephone number of a taxi... not much use as no pay phones, no mobile and not fluent Russian telephone language! So we decided to walk hoping we remembered the way and hitch hike if necessary, luckily we remembered and got there just on time for the next bus and got back to Perm..... whilst being a circus act to the two boys in front who kept turning around and staring at us, next time we will remember to pack some photos.

On our walk back to the hostel we saw a camel. A camel in Bovey Tracey would be one thing, but this is even colder... must be a very well acclimatized and evolutionist camel.

As Russians don't seem to be the height of sophisticated traditional food, we decided to be typical Russian and not eat Russian food that evening... we found the pancake shop. If our jobs ever fail we decided we will open the same pancake chain in the UK and hopefully become billionaires. Not only did the pancake shop have pancakes, but also entertainment of a local man trying to electrocute himself... the staff were not impressed!

Its Russias 9 day holiday... yepp 9 day! so they celebrate tonight with a-lot of alcohol... the guy in the hostel was concerned about us so required us to be back before 11pm!

Next morning- 4am start train to Yekaterinburg- two top bunks on the train but luckily we slept the whole time, in Yekaterinberg we found a luggage store and were just stopping for part of the day so left our big rucksacks and explored- a relay race in the main street, highly decorated cathedrals, city pond (more a lake) and rollerblading is definitely the top mode of transport there! we bumped into the man from the train who was on the bunk under Justine- he wanted a photo of us with him so that kept him happy.

Next train- 37 hour journey from Yekaterinburg to Krasnoyarsk (nearly missed it as we couldn't find the luggage store again). Got chatting with a Russian called Anna- who spoke some English but enjoyed chatting to us with the Russian-English dictionary and she taught us some Russian too. Was chatting for over 4 hours and very in-depth about our work and she thinks having a chemistry job will make me famous so requested to add us on facebook so she has a famous contact... would be good to be true! She also said Russia is the place to find a beautiful man and not china (so for those who placed bets the odds are on Russian!). Russ-silly who was above Anna then decided we weren't as strange as he thought and joined in, he thinks we are crazy for coming from England on the trains but then got chatting- he speaks no English but we managed. He's a welder and very proud to be so.... gave us proof of his welding certificates, photos and id cards! We than had some of his chunk of meat.. he did a cow impression but we think its pork, Anna translated it to cow too but we're definitely not convinced! They were amused by us with our meals with our spork and cup.... unfortunately we have no one to pack us up a picnic so survive on cup pasta, couscous,cup-a-soup and dried apricots. I've realized i'm more a tomato soup and Justines a bombay potato spinach and pea fan! Everyone else on the train was content eating slabs of meat, fish, sewing, smoking, selling their craftwork and sleeping.

Anna got off after 5 hours, russ-silly the next morning, everyone else on the train was about ten hours before changing but we and one other women were on for the whole time

Washing on the train isn't very existent- the toilet is a drop onto the tracks and there's no running water that we can work out how to use. The train stinks and is at least 30 degrees but you get used to it, its only when you get off for the brief few stops and back on that you realise again how much its stinking. At the platforms women come up to the train selling fish, eggs, bread, potatoes, beer and pastries. means that the next few hours the train is smelling of egg and fish (luckily no one too close to us bought any!)

The view is pretty similar and continuous... birch trees and shrub-land.... and the other 52 people, cat and dog on the carriage!

Next stop... Krasnoyarsk.. more mountainous and a bit WWII we arrived at 6.54 am and had an unplanned city tour... kind of a replication of the British OAPs with their free bus passes making the most and sitting on the bus the entire circular route just for the fun... only ours we did pay (30p!) it just took a whole circular route to get to the street we wanted...well we got there. A man fell asleep on the bus and fell off the chair, we were rather polite and contained our laughter! The hostel is typical Russian... not a hostel.... no sign its just in building 85 then you go round the back to the industrial tin door and intercom to apartment 75... still no hostel sign... but we're in a 4 bed dorm.. smallest so far, with an English guy hes the first traveler we've met but his route was from china back home whereas we are the opposite- hes warned us of the terrible Chinese manners (or lack of).

We had a shower... the water ran off brown although we hadn't washed for a good few days we were pleased to see it we weren't that filthy just the water here is!

We had dinner with Al as he had a voucher to use.. But he forgot to use it!!! After the meal Al bought a drink from a drink cabinet. after trying to open the drink door, and not succeeding we then tried and didn't succeed the women sat in the kiosk stared at us so we pointed and she tapped the table, we still didn't get it so tried again, then she tapped the table again... then we realised you have to pay before she will release the electromagnet fridge door. She still didn't find it funny but we definitely did! She was just as proud of her drinks as the welder was of his welding.We then went back to our hostel and made plans to go up a mountain with him tomorrow (now today) the mountain was a success... Good views but we got the ski lift down.. we figured they only check tickets when you get on st the bottom, so we could get a free ride if we came down!!

Bus back to Krasnoyask... I saw it coming so ran to the bus... Al and Justine decided not to hurry.. As soon as I was on the bus the doors shut and drove off even though the others were clearly in there way.. Being typical Russian the driver ignored me when I knocked on his window and asked him to wait. I thought they would be worried so got off at the first stop.. Waited for the next 37 bus and got on that.. They should be on there.. But they weren't... So I stayed in the bus back to the town and thought they should be heading to the English school cafe as that's where we left our bags... So I made my way from bus stop to cafe and it was shut. So I sat outside on the floor like a tramp. I almost thought people were going to put some money down for me!! Time passed and then Al and Justine came.. Turns out the next bus they got was wrong.. They had headed in wrong direction but made it in the end... Reunited!!!!

We're tallying up our hours of travel.. so open to guesses. all will be released on our last day

Tonight brings us another long train, to Irkutsk.... perhaps we'll find a zebra in the street.

Dasvidinya (as the Russians pronounce) cant quite use Russian keyboard letters yet!!


5th May 2013

5th May 2013

The romance of riding the rails
Not the perfect train ride but very interesting. Sorry about all the bus issues. Makes for good stories to tell. Happy travels

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