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Salvador Dreaming: Once bitten, twice shy

I’m sure I won’t fall into the same trap as last time. And when the El Salvadorean officials check my passport I hope they don’t recall what happened in May 2006!

Due to a damaged bridge on the border (over the dirty River Paz) only light traffic are crossing these days (and months!). So all passengers on our flash double deck bed-bus are merrily walking from this side (Valle Nuevo, Guatemala) to the other (Las Chinamas). It’s several hundred metres across a makeshift pedestrian extension hung out on one side of the bridge under repairs. Luckily they’re taking our checked on bags across in a ute for us.

Dodging the crazy money changers offering exchange of Quetzales to US Dollars (the Salvadorean currency for more than a decade now) I watch the ute (pick-up) with all the luggage go by in a swirl of dust; riding happily are three armed guards sitting variously on the luggage piled high. I spy my backpack poking out and smile.

Blessed are the money changers for they shall inherit the faulty calculators! They tried to rip me off and I came back to haunt them and claimed my dues.

Now I’m on the other side and in the other bus in the same top deck panorama seat and the Salvador immigration official is coming through the bus. He flicks through my passport and I’m wondering if he has access to my immigration fine from eight years before! I maintain my gaze straight ahead. He hands the passport back. No stamp!? He insists that no stamp is needed and he moves on from seat to seat registering each passengers passport details. Once bitten, twice shy! I insist on the stamp. With a weary sigh he repeats a third time for my benefit – and the bus’s – that an entry stamp is not necessary.

With a little twinge of doubt I sit back and watch the dry hot world of El Salvador flash past before me.

Bridge over Rio Paz (border) damaged and open to only light traffic.

Bridge over Rio Paz (border) damaged and open to only light traffic.

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Riot For Your Russian Cat Women

Riot For Your Russian Cat Women
Rottnest Island, Australia

Rottnest Island, Australia


Free Pussy Riot now!
http://bit.ly/riotputin

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/video/2 012/jul/30/pussy-riot-trial-moscow-cour t-video?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3486

After my sojourn in the Russian Federation I see that the Russians I met are either angry or just fed up and are simply getting on with their lives in the face of political injustices that maintain a hold over such vast lands, much still wild and free. The band ‘Pussy Riot’, while brusque in their approach to dissent, may well deserve to be charged with hooliganism, but let such a charge receive the degree of attention it deserves: a public apology for standing on a Russian Orthodox symbol – an apology they’ve already given in spades – and not a gaol sentence. Please. May the so called ‘victims’ accept their apology and be done with it! For everything else they’ve done I applaud. Loudly! Go Cat Women Go!

Watch members of Pussy Riot perform the punk prayer wherein they ask the Virgin Mary to save Russia from their country’s controversial president. It was performed in Christ The Savior Cathedral – a prominent Moscow icon actually not owned by the Russian Orthodox Church.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALS92big 4TY


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Sun stories

Sun stories
Wembley, Australia

Wembley, Australia


It’s coming up to the completion of my forty fifth time around the sun and being back in Australia after two months in the northern climes is still an adjustment.

But the sun is playing tricks on me of late.

I was sitting in a meeting with a colleague yesterday late in the afternoon and suddenly I wondered why it was so dark outside. It seemed unnatural for the evening to be so dark so early in the piece.

I’ve hardly said hello to anyone outside of work. Not having a phone has been good for that. Head office tells me that a new one is on the way.

Sigur Rós (Icelandic post-rock ethereal princes) are coming in mid-November to the Belvoir Theatre in the Upper San Valley, just out of Perth. Possibly my all time favourite band. I’m not missing them for quids.


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Drink me

Drink me
Wembley, Australia

Wembley, Australia


Drink me Third day back. Bowling alley. North Perth. A mate’s birthday. I’m there late so I sit out the first game. Order beer. That’s when things start to go wrong. The world has shrunk and I’m staring, Alice-In-Wonderland-like at the thimble-sized Little Creatures beer bottle in my hand. “Hey Alex”, I yell over the roll and grind of the bowls and the clashing of the ten pins exploding, “Are these fair dinkum? Have they shrunk the size of beers here or what!?” Seems that my time in Russia, regularly holding 500mL bottles or 1000mL cans has had a serious affect on me. These Aussie beers look hilariously tiny in comparison. Things continue in this wayward trajectory. The price is inversely proportional to the size. I pay through the nose for beers while I shoehorn my feet into the disco bowling shoes. In Russia I’d regularly pay AUD$2.50 for 500mL. Anyway I’ll stop my rant. The bowls master and bar attendant has just come over and handed me back AUD$10 – I’d overpaid. Nice one! And now, back to bowling lessons from Princess Leah!


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From Russia With Love

From Russia With Love
Perth, Australia

Perth, Australia


Things I Miss About Russia (and Cornwall):

  • Spending precious time with my father walking the coastal track from St Ives to Porthcurno, Cornwall (UK)
  • Getting to know our dear cousin Howard – a kindred Curnow and man after my own heart, who taught me that the revolution is alive and kicking (brocolli) in Kernow (Cornwall) – Kernow bys vyken!
  • The eternal conviviality of new-found friends and companions on long-distance Russian train journeys
  • Baikal’s shore, her moods, her smell, her crystal blue waters deep and her plunging cliffs and deep, soft and dark forests
  • The House of Gertruda, Baikalskaye. My sanctuary while exploring the peace and tranquility
  • Cruising the Hermitage with fast-moving and big-hearted Katya
  • The salt sweating and birch thrashing of a generic ‘banya’ experience with brother Anton, and Sergei his dad
  • Drinking local vodka and tasting delicious zakuski (закус&#1 082;и) after the banya with brother Anton
  • Drinking kbac with the vendors at ВДНХ / VDNKh (Verdenk’ha) – the former soviet ‘Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy’ in Moscow
  • Drinking medavukha on a steamy Moscow electric, Baltika Number 9 with Sasha on the train
  • Admiring
  • Being the first official tourist at Hotel Yamburg, Novy Urengoy
  • Shashlyk in the taiga-tundra with my subarctic Novy Urengoy friends Sasha (and Anna), Julia, Vera, Nicolai, Oleg, Ludmila
  • Climbing Avachinskaya (2741masl) on the southeast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, and seeing a Pacific Rim of Fire from upon high with lofty pyroclastic cones piercing low cloud blankets
  • Receiving gifts of live music on trains or at dinner tables – Thank you especially to Peter (Петр) and Yuri (Юрий)
  • The smells of the Russian Taiga. From European-Russia to Siberia and the Far East the delicate and transfixing olfactory powers of taiga beguile me still: Siberian pines, larches, firs, spruce, birch, poplar, willow. And then there’s the understory of rhododendrons, lichens and mosses
  • The ever-helpful assistance from strangers. Thank you especially to Yuri in Nihzny Novgorod, the chain-smoking RZhD lady in Novy Urengoy, wide-eyed Azamat in Severobaikalsk, sultry Natalia the bank director on the train to Vladivostok, big Sasha and small Sasha on the slow boat from the Arctic; skinny Sasha on the train from Irkutsk, street-walking Sasha from Vladivostok, Iren and her freshly tattooed uncle from Yelisovo, Prof Fred in Kamchatka, Martha & Yuri from Yelisovo B&B
  • Sasha and Sasha’s eyes


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Home Is Where The Heart Is

Home Is Where The Heart Is
Perth, Australia

Perth, Australia


Well I’m home.

‘Look So Fine, Feel So Low’ just came on via random selection on the home stereo.

In Singapore, checking my email, a few friends had forwarded me the alert for the premiere of the first feature film documentary of our national poet laureate Paul Kelly (coming in September – I bought tickets on the spot online in the Changi Airport!).

I knew I was getting close to home when that happened. Maybe I was already on my way home when I sang ‘To Her Door’ at the foot of the Trans-Siberian 9288km monument on the platform of the Vladivostok Railway Station. But then I went and climbed Avachinskaya in Kamchatka and I was on another planet. Again.

Cornwall to Kamchatka seems like an absolute lifetime in the construction. And even the post-journey deconstruction (or destruction at times!) homeward (Petropavlovsky-Kamchatki – Vladivostok – Novosibirsk – Beijing – Singapore) seems too long ago.

If you’ve been following my blog, then you may have a sense of the time I’ve enjoyed. The amazing people that I’ve met. And the natural and geographic planetary delights I’ve witnessed, sampled, devoured, swallowed, smelt, tasted, trodden on, laid down upon and smiled, even cried, before. And while I did write a good deal, I must say there is much I missed out – characters still treasured, places of passing wonderment, and friendships transitory and special that didn’t make always make it to the pages of my diary or to the cybernetic reaches of my blog. And similarly, while I didn’t write about them much, there were down times and times of infinite loneliness. Times of self-doubt. Times of anger and fear in the face of loveless moments. But that is the Road. And Adventure Road is never far from these shadows. And as Isabelle in Kamchatka says, one’s life is only ever directed in the present moment. Hear, hear!

I arrived home after midnight to a very well looked after house (Thanks so much to Kath!). Slept through till after midday today – I needed it. And I am feeling very disoriented. My house, which was still new to me when I left Australia, is almost a strange place. But the welcoming light of my spacious kitchen and living area, as well as the familiar objects around the place are helping me to slide back to Perth.

After two solid months of waking up wondering what decisions I have to make regarding what to do, where to go and how to do it, I’m suddenly feeling very lost. But this will pass. I’m sure.

Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Signing off from ‘Cornwall to Kamchatka’
http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog/p lanetlars/1/tpod.html

Planet Lars
Chris


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Singapore Ballast Balls

Singapore Ballast Balls
Singapore, Singapore

Singapore, Singapore


I’m in Singapore today after an incredibly eventful afternoon and evening in Beijing! See a less than complete version of events in previous blog – the effects of whch I’m still reeling from.

Too much to write about (though the previous entry is an attempt) and I’m in fact still trying to process it all. In short I met a nice young provincial teacher and the afternoon and evening proceeded to get more lively from there with him as the jolly companion!

My Singapore-Perth JetStar budget flight departs in soon. I went into downtown Singapore today to look around. Hot and sweaty. Had fried oyster hokkein noodles and barley soya drink. This was the first time I’ve ever been into Singapore after years of transiting through it. Watched the Chinatown market guys take live frogs from their pens, chop their heads off and then peel their skins off in one fell swoop. Watched another fishmonger chopping the huge Song Fish heads in half laterally and removing the shiny gelatinous ballast balls that reside in there and allow the fish to rise and fall in the water column at will.


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China’s Number Three

China's Number Three
Beijing, China

Beijing, China


Last night somewhere in Beijing, I can’t exactly say where, I was eating fried cicada pupae off a wooden skew and dancing in a private karaoke room with a couple of very attractive young women in their late twenties from Harbin. I was in the tow of Gao Shan, in his late thirties, whose name literally means ‘High Mountain’, but who is a very vertically-challenged teacher from the provincial back blocks southeast of Beijing. I was having a ball, but our constant re-calculations of the deadline for my subway run to the airport were making me a little nervous. Earlier that morning I’d arrived off the Airport Shuttle into somewhere amidst the smog enshrouded downtown area of Beijing. The culture shock of coming from Siberia and Russia’s Far East was suddenly marked in my nervous system. People. And Urban jungle. And Smog! Various brands of police stood to noticeable attention on all street corners. When I asked them for directions to Tienanmen Square noone seemed to know. I was sure it was a conspiracy, similar to the Google search earlier in the morning for Tienanmen Square coming up blocked (see previous blog entry). I bought a one yuan icy pole from an old lady on the corner and walked up a side street in hope of finding a sign. I got a good lead from a young agricultural student and headed in a new direction. By this time streams of sweat were running off my brow and coursing uncomfortably down the small of my back. And I could feel the particulates in the air being hydro-statically bound to my body’s exuding moisture. I wandered into a temple opposite Tienanmen Square, more for want of escaping the traffic and smog and finding some shade. After paying the three yuan I discovered some comfort in the shade of some 600-1000 year old cypress trees, planted here during various dynasties’ reigns. The aimlessness of my gait must have caught Gao Shan’s attention. He bowed his head sideways as I walked by and with a huge bespectacled smiling face asked me where I was from. I didn’t give any particular attention to his immediate offer of assistance. But as he accompanied me he was in fact quite the gold mine of local information. He’s a teacher of Chinese literature in his small provincial town. But he was also a little eccentric. His English pronunciation wasn’t always the best and so he had this endearing habit of spelling his words, mid-sentence as he spoke. Sometimes he got the spelling wrong too. But he was so confident of his spelling that he refused to be corrected by me, more for the fact that he wasn’t always aware that I was in fact giving him the correct spelling and pronunciation. It became very humorous. “Dis is from da emperor’s reign and is da alter – A-L-T-A-R – of the god of land and green – G-R-E-I-N”, he’d say in earnest. I would be confused but eventually we’d establish he meant ‘grain’, which he was both misspelling and mispronouncing. “Ho, ho”, he’d laugh in his little jolly half-bent over fashion, “You are very intelligent man!” I’d told him that I was writing a blog of sorts and that I was a musician too. Two things that seemed to define me better on my Cornwall to Kamchatka odyssey On went the afternoon with his sentences constantly punctuated by his little spelling antics. The Forbidden City had closed for the day and so he took me to the second Forbidden City, just a interesting he said. But such was the heat and fatigue that I suggested I might shout him to a Chinese tea ceremony. I didn’t know what to expect but it was much much more than I ever dreamed. Just behind the Forbidden City was Emperor’s Lane. Gao Shan told me as we walked up the moat that the Emperor’s Lane houses back onto, he pointed out the heavily fortified house of China’s Number Three Leader – the leader of the People’s Congress. It was on this street a few houses up that Gao Shan found us a tea house. Ushered into an ornate little room replete with gnarly old peach root cut and polished to serve as the ritual’s preparation table, our young host, Nana, presided. We tasted in specific order eleven amazing and delicious teas. And with Gao Shan’s interpretation I learnt alot of the cultural significance and medicinal properties of them all. The tea ceremony was a delightful ceremony taking me and my jolly ever-spelling-his-English-words companion through eleven special teas, complete with their benefits and their cultural meaning. It was good to have Gao Shan (High Mountain) there to translate. I was taught how to hold my tiny tea cuplet like a man should hold it. And as we sat before the Nana, the pouring girl, I admired the huge contorted and polished peach root that served as the ritual tea preparation table that separated us. And after an afternoon of wondering around Tienanmen Square and the second Forbidden City in the smog and fug, the humidity and mugginess, with an ever present Gao Shan giving me interpretation in a harmless but slightly eccentric fashion, it was a relief to find this little tea house on Emperor Street, and rest in an air-conditioned ornate tea room, complete with incongruous flat screens, karaoke consoles and cordless microphones ready to go. Being so close to the Number Three’s heavily body-guarded place of residence would explain why later, when I was really embracing the karaoke session that ensued with vocal and gesticulate gusto, that the police and China’s Number Three Leader’s body guards came knocking and telling the little girls who stood by outside our private room for us to keep it down. We’d been told. After the tea ceremony had turned into a slightly off-the-rails karaoke session, Gao Shan was under my constant insistence and instruction to get me back to a subway station in order to get back to Beijing International for my post-midnight red-eye budget flight to Singapore. But my constant distractions in the packed hawker streets was proving hard for poor Gao Shan. And when I quite randomly saw two attractive girls, one attempting to ride pillion on the back of a push bike with her friend, coming up past me from behind on the crowded food-hawkers mall full of fried reptiles, amphibians and insects, I thought nothing of it to strike up a conversation. As chance would have it they spoke good English and were out of for a fun night. I was about to ditch the cicada pupae (which I think gave me the runs at a very inopportune time later that evening rushing to make my flight after a last-minute dash in a taxi to an of-site hotel for a shower and change was required!), despite the good protein source that they were as Gao Shan told me: they were too pungent, acridly and intensely sweet all at the same time. Almost made me shiver when I ate them. But Xi Lin, the lovely 26 year old from Harbin liked them and we shared the rest. Soon I was assuming control of the bike from her friend Anqi, and with my backpack worn on my chest and Li Xin holding on ever so delicately around my waist, I was ringing the bell, pedaling exaggeratedly and steering erratically through the crowded mall. “I need a beer to wash these cicadas down”, I said over my shoulder to a smiling Li Xin. After some crazy bike riding, we went to an upstairs bar somewhere and soon the four of us were singing, dancing in a private karaoke room. I think the young socially-awkward and married Gao Shan felt a bit left out but it was all harmless good fun. I was having a ball, but their constant re-adjustments of the deadline by which we should leave to get me to the airport continued to make me somewhat nervous. Finally we headed off in a rush, after another debacle over the billed amount. I said goodbye to Gao Shan, a good fellow. And the girls accompanied me to a subway station closer to airport where I could then get a taxi. The subway link to the Beijing Airport was now closed for the evening. I was starting to fret. The girls raced around in the dark at the exit to the subway station. All around men were in huddles in the dark. Above us a raised concrete highway towered. ‘We must get you a taxi with a metre”, exclaimed Li Xin, “That way you’ll have less problem at the other end” They finally found a driver with a metered taxi and I lept in. As it headed off I wound the window down to bid these midnight angels good night and good bye. I had just under an hour before check-in closed when the taxi, whose driver wasn’t satisfied with the metered fare and the tax stamps he’d thrown on to the dash to increase it a few more yuan, pulled three cars deep up to the curb. I had to argue my case and even write it down for him how much change I demanded. He gave me the correct change and then shouted for me to get out of his taxi. The JetStar budget flight check-in closed at 01:15 local time. It was nearly half past twelve. As I raced toward the check-in counters, the fried cicacda pupae had worked on my system too fast and I was in urgent need of a shower and change of clothes. So after grabbing my left luggage I raced downstairs to the Hourly Lounge hotel. But it was booked out. People lurking around here offered me another hotel room but it was off the airport site. They offered to drive me there and back within the 40 minutes I had left. I haggled and got them down from AUD$200 to AUD$40. And so it was that I commenced a race into the unknown and into the smog of the night. It was a highly stresseful run. And the claim that it was less than ten minutes away was starting to cause additional panic. I was screwed thought I. But after just over ten minutes we did arrive at the more costly hotel. Urgency consumed me. I lugged all my bags in to the room. And showered in lightning speed. The clean change of clothes was gratifying but I was filled with fear and loathing. Back at the reception desk waving my credit card, shaking heads all concurred: no credit card mister! So I pointed at the driver, who I knew was in cahoots with the hotel, and said I’ll pay you at the airport. And so we rushed back there, and the driver raced in after me to the nearest airport ATM. I slapped the filthy lucre into his sweaty palms and I was off racing my trolley to an as yet uncertain future. I was eight minutes shy of missing my plane when I rushed from the hotel-run taxi. But I made it to the deserted JetStar check-in area just in the nick of time. The commercial and cut-throat voracity of all the merchants I encountered on this hot and steamy afternoon and evening in Beijing was a shock to my post-Siberian system. While a little brusque at times the treatment by Russian merchants was never overbearing nor dodgy nor under-handed. Encountering the bare-faced nature of it in Beijing amounted to being the strongest case of ‘culture shock’ on my ‘Cornwall to Kamchatka’ odyssey. Despite that my serendipitous Beijing friends were a wonderful expression of life in this big fug of a city!


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Baikal – The Long Way to Beijing from Kamchatka!

Baikal – The Long Way to Beijing from Kamchatka!
Beijing, China

Beijing, China


Just took a shower in the wierd and retro Hourly Lounge hotel rooms. I’m at Beijing International Airport. And now I feel 100%, though seriously lacking sleep, given that I left Petropavlovsky-Kamchatki (the capital of Kamchatka Peninsula) yesterday afternoon and flew a very indirect path to Beijing. After the three and a half hours back to Vladivostok I had an hour to wait there in transit before flying six hours back west across Russia to Novosibirsk (capital of Western Siberia, I was through here on the train a few weeks ago en route to Lake Baikal). Then after three hours wait in Novosibirsk I caught the red eye to Pekin, Kitay (as they call ‘Beijng, China’ in Russia) at 02:00 local time this morning. And arrived here at 07:30 local time. Last thing I saw in Russia on the Novosibirsk airport public TV channel was an ad for WWF! Haven’t seen hide nor hair of WWF on my trip, though I had the opportunity to make contact in various places including Kamchatka, but decided not to. A fitting reminder I thought as I drank the last Russian Baltica beer before boarding to leave my beloved Russia. So why such a seriously convolute route from Kamchatka to Beijing? When I arrived in Vladivostok off the train at the end of my Trans-Siberian sojourn last Sunday, 15th of July, the travel agent I lobbed into there could only find this combination of flights to get me up to Kamchatka at short notice and back to Beijing in time for my pre-booked Jetstar flight on Saturday morning, 21st July at 02:10 hours. But ah Kamchatka! Man it was worth it! If only to whet my appetite. I can already see that several weeks are required to immerse yourself into brown bear country and salmon spawnings (the planet’s biggest in fact), as well as more volcanoes and their craters and lakes and a sense of wilderness I could taste while up the volcanoes slide, where just one or two very industrious mosquitoes managed to find me! I met a Yale professor in Yelisovo, Kamchatka, who’s been writing about the Russian Zapovednik (from the Russian word for “sacred, prohibited from disturbance, committed to protect”) for years. He says that many don’t know that the Russians have been protecting nature for nature’s sake for a very long time, even before most other nation states. When he tried to get the National Geographic to publish his findings in 1996 they rejected his claims out of hand. He got it first published in the Sierra Club magazine that same year. The term is an established one on the territory of the former Soviet Union for a protected area which is kept “forever wild”. It is the highest degree of environmental protection for the assigned areas that are strictly protected, and maybe restricted to the public [taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zapovednik ]. At the time, the Soviets looked at the newly formed US national parks system, which was ostensibly created for human pleasure when it did start at the turn of the last century, and decided that they didn’t want to follow the same path. “Theirs was purer from the start”, says Professor Fred, my new writer friend from Yale’s Environment School. The closest English term for ‘zapovednik’ is “scientific nature reserve”. As I flew from Vladivostok I looked at the route to Novosibirsk and I estimated by my calculations that if the cloud was parted then there should be a chance that we might see Lake Baikal below. We chased the setting sun two thirds of the way across Russia last night. The clouds spellbound me. And and at four hours into the flight I started scanning the earth’s surface below as the cloud blankets parted. Luck was with me – there were now huge breaks in the clouds. I was recognising mountain ranges. Then the Russian S7 (airline) hostess came down the aisle to say Lake Baikal was coming up. I was ecstatic! (On boarding I’d asked the ladies to ask the captain as to the probability of seeing Baikal – at the the time they came back with a big negative). And so sure enough within five minutes I caught the first glimpse of the north-east corner of the Lake, where the Upper Angara river delta snakes through marshes toward and through Yarki Island sand spit. As we moved west I saw the point at which I’d stood on 6th July looking across to Yarki and admirning the fishermen and the marshes and the holiday makers swimming in Baikal’s warmer northern waters. As we drfited along her northern tip from on high, Baikal stretched out to the south and disappeared under massive low cloud banks. But the whole complete northern tip of Baikal was clearly visible. I was very thrilled. I scanned the north-western shoreline (always tempting to call it a coastline as it’s so massive and comandeering) and saw Severobaikalsk township (where I’d stayed with Evgeny, Alyona and Anna (the wonderful family of Baikal Trail Hostel) and laughed with Azamat from Kyrgystan). And further south of Severobaikalsk I imagined the route I’d hiked south on 9th July as I spied beautiful Lake Slyudanskoye reflecting a grey evening sky. Just seeing this reminded me of the walk through the taiga-covered headlands and along the smooth-stoned beaches by crystaline waters to my favourite little wood-constructed villlage of Baikalskoye. All from such great heights. And it took about 15 minutes in the plane from first my sighting of Baikal to when I could no longer see it straining my neck backwards looking out my window. Then within another 15 minutes we passed over the (Lower) Angara River and the Bratsk (artifical) Sea – the Angara River is the only river to drain Lake Baikal. So within half and hour I’d seen the Upper Angara River drain south from the Baikal Mountains into the northern tip of the world’s oldest (at least 25 million years) and deepest lake and then it’s major draining river, the same Angara, coursing north into the huge reservoir, known as the Bratsk Sea. Needless to say I was very happy about that. So I’m going into city now to explore the Forbidden City, Tian#anm$en Square, etc etc. I need to be back out here at Beijing T2 to catch my flight to Singapore at 02:10 tomorrow morning local time. Australia beckons. But right now, after Siberia and the Russian Far East, Beijing is serious culture shock! (Hey, I just googled ‘Tian#anm$en Square’ in this Beijing Airport internet cafe and the Google results page came up with some selections. I then clicked on the wikipedia link for it and I got a message in chinese, which I assume says that the site is blocked. I asked the internet cafe attendant girl to assist and she got the following warning message while searching for the same thing: “We’ve observed that searching for [tiananmen] in mainland China may temporarily break your connection to Google. This interruption is outside Google’s control.” All very interesting.)


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Airport stop over

Airport stop over
Novosibirsk, Russia

Novosibirsk, Russia


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