Day 3

Trip Start Sep 14, 2006
Trip End ??? ??, 2007

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Flag of Russia  ,
Sunday, September 17, 2006

Belarus is a very poor looking country with peasant farmers working the land and looking generally unhappy. The next morning we were woken by more banging on the door but it wasn't more guards, this time it was a bloke selling little toys and he walked right into our cabin as if he owned it. I sent this chap on his way, before getting dressed and seeing where we had stopped. It was a pleasant little station and we got out and walked around. On the platform we were offered vodka and fruit by various hawkers.

Later in the day we arrived in Smolensk which meant Russia! We'd already got our Russian visas checked out at the Poland-Belarus border so there were no such formalities here. A Russian Officer came and stood outside our cabin for an age, I wondered whether he wanted to see my passport, but as we left the station, he took his tie off and took the remaining spot in our cabin - obviously on his own way to Moscow too. Karel the Pole came and chatted with him a while, and he acted translater as Yoshi and I asked him questions. The Russian Officer turns out to be a high ranking army man who is in charge of all the army vehicles in Russia.

Five hours after Smolensk it was getting dark - we passed a village that our Russian friend told us Yuri Gagarin came from. The Moscow suburbs were all coming into view, and we started packing our things. Yoshi and I were at different hostels so we got on the Metro (think London Underground) for one stop only then went our separate ways - I look forward to seeing him again on Tuesday.

I got to the hostel after an absolute age of walking around a neighbourhood I was convinced I was supposed to be in. I had meant to print out the directions to the hostel but forgot so I had to rely on my memory of a street map! A guy called Noel from Kidderminster spotted me walking around and asked if I was looking for Godzillas hostel, that was a real relief. One good thing about that experience was that any fears about walking around Moscow late at night were gone. If I was going to be mugged at all, that was it, walking around with my massive pack and a map as it got closer to midnight.

I immediately met some people in the hostel who all seemed to be doing the same journey as me on to Beijing. Some are doing it in chunks, some have tickets and most don't. That made me feel like less of a mad man, and actually made me feel pretty organised too.
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