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Is Russia Really that Bad???

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Are Russians really bad? – 5th October 2011

I have always been really quite anxious about visiting Russia, I have read about the frequent muggings, often violent, tending to target men on their own at night. I have heard about the inherent racism within Russia, towards immigrants, people with a darker complexion, non-Russians, and tourists, I mean that just about covers everybody right? I am not saying that these things don’t go on, but my view is that although these people do exist, they only really represent 1% of the population, as the Hells Angels are famously referred to, the 1%ers. I am not wishing to count my chickens yet, but for those people that I had spoken to before I left for Russia I had more or less convinced myself that at some point in Russia I would have been either beaten or mugged, more likely both. My rational was that if I had I expected it, then at least when it does happen it was just one of those travelling hazards I couldn’t have avoided…..

However, now that I have more or less completed my time in Russia I have a totally different view to the country and to the people as a whole. The country has had 80 years of Soviet Socialism where the people have been seriously oppressed, propaganda material has been mocking the West and telling that our greed is evil and that Capitalism will never work (there is probably an element of truth in that though, look at the state of the Capitalist countries’ fledging economies?!!), and of course they have been promoting the Soviet Machine that was the USSR. And the reverse of course is true, and I guess that that was just one element of the huge pissing contest we all called the Cold War.

So to now turn around and bring free commerce into Russia and encourage trade and Capitalism, then you would expect that these people are probably a little bit pissed off. The wealth divide is greater than ever and those that are struggling are selling everything they have to survive.
Over the last 20 years or so Russia has gone through a massive transformation, so therefore you need to allow for that when judging people and particularly how they react to foreigners who are all smiles, taking pictures and generally not knowing a word of Russian.

So to carry on with my top ten lists theme here is another one showing the good experiences I had Vs the bad experiences I have had:

Good:

1. Waiting in line to buy some goods for the train trip to Yekaterinburg, Vincent and Ali were paying for their goods, I was stuck behind two customers who had shopping trolleys, content but also rather miffed that I would have to wait, I was offered by both of those in front to pass in front. Sweet
2. Trying to make my way to a hostel in Moscow to drop my bags off I was armed with a small map on the iTouch and was without my sense of direction. When asking a lady at a market for help, she went completely out of her way to help, taking about 15 minutes out of her time to assist and get help from others. Eternally grateful for that.
3. Numerous times being stood at train information counters and although the stern woman at the counter cannot help, there is often somebody in the area whether it be a customer or assistant who is willing to help, perhaps it is that look of absolute desperation I have had in my eyes at times, but great, I love it.
4. The Journey from Yekaterinburg to Irkutzk, an amazing experience with an older Russian couple. We spoke in broken Russian, broken English, equipped with only a small pocket phrase book and hand gestures we managed to enjoy each other’s company for the entire journey. They shared all of their food and they were great travelling companions. I could not have asked for a more enjoyable trip.
5. The Russian Army, they gave me a ride in an Cannon Fodder carrier to the centre of Irkutsk to flag down a “proper” taxi for me, see separate blog post which I will have to do at some point, quite an experience.
6. Random people coming up to me and asking questions, genuinely interested in who I was, why I was in Russia and what I thought of their country. Their younger population have massive ambitions but are massively restricted.

Bad:

1. Stood patiently waiting to go through the metal detector for Lenins tomb in Moscow and some ‘Lady’ barges through me and goes straight through the barrier. Good thing about this one is that she had not dropped off her phone at left luggage which is a requirement so she had to go back, but also the guard made a point of letting her know that she had barged past this ‘Young Gentleman’ (I had a translator at hand)
2. I got stared out by some young woman whos face was very hostile after I spoke to the driver of the bus and asked in Russian “Afta-vag-zal?” which means Bus Station. She stared straight through me, all I could muster to say to her was “Afta-vag-zal?” and then will balls of Britain I said straight to her, “Come on love, crack a smile will ya!!” said all the while smiling bearing my teeth to her. I am overly nice to those who are particularly hostile to see if they will soften!!
3. General Hostility in the Service industry for anything, but I experienced this less than others.
4. Generally the amount of drunks, but that wasn’t such a real problem for me, perhaps more of an issue for the Russian NHS (if they have one)

I think the weight of this is definitely in the favour of the positive, though some guys I have briefly been travelling with cant wait to get out of this country, but I think Russia is like Marmite, you either love it or you hate it. Next time I will try not to judge a nation based on factual evidence, books I have read and newspaper clippings. I should try and be a bit more positive from now on and not try to assume the worst.

So I've just bought my tickets to now go to Ulan Bator in Mongolia but between me and you, I've heard that the Mongolians are all wankers……

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Hoolabools dream dish........
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Dogs or Cats for dinner or domestics
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Mr Lenin
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Irkutsk - Capital of Siberia
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Home for som poor cold Siberian Family

Article By David Beattie of Rounton Coffee

Posted by beatski 01:31 Archived in Russia Tagged moscow trip russia planning irkutsk concerns checklist hostility

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Comments

ive passed your comments on about the lovely citisens of ulan bator and they said they will have a special reception for you on arrival

by andy keen

What an enlightened chap you are Dave, is it me or are these post not in chronological order?mmmmmm Mongolia heard its full of Mongs wouldn't bother xx

by Gaz Moz

Andy, they waited with a Taxi, want to prove how nice a nation they are..... will see, trying not to eat mutton whilst im out here.... just going out now to buy some carrots.... thats if i dont get mugged first...
Gaz, trying to be chronological, but its a bit of a mare at times, is that a request??? I got some catching up to do, dont get much time to publish them to be truthful.....

by beatski

Na it's not a request mate just wondering why the dates jump around so much. Been trying to read em by the order of the date on the post as opposed to the actual date they're posted on. Just so as I can follow your trip better, I have actually been running my finger along a map! That's just how geeky I am!!!!!!!!

by Gaz Moz

Mutton rocks, love the stuff in a nice stew but then you wouldn't be interested in all that xx

by Gaz Moz

Loving the posts Beat. Can just imagine you doing the 'crack a smile love' but please don't tempt Hoolabool with a pigs head - he doesn't need any encouragement!

by Miss CHill

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