Trip Start Sep 20, 2007
12Trip End Nov 13, 2007
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While there, we visited a very spurious outdoor Museum of Ethnography, which was a hodge-podge of old style buildings, some "reconstructed" rock formations and a very squalid, sad looking zoo, with cages far too small for their nervous, unhappy captives. There is something deeply unedifying about gawping at bored brown bears being forced to beg for biscuits thrown at them by small children
Ulan Ude did throw up a couple of unexpected surprises. Firstly we were finally able to watch a World Cup game - SA v Argentina in the semi final, on at 4 AM local time, and on our last night, the last night in Russia, we stumbled into a Chinese restaurant-cum-disco (?), where we saw some of the most bizarre dance floor action since the infamous double-ankle breaking episode of 2002. Just as we were tucking into our dinner, a trigger tune came on that sparked a frenzy. Think Ian Curtis, mix in Bez from the Happy Mondays, add a dash of John Travolta and the worst elements of circa 1981 Soul Train (including the threads), then garnish with a sprinkling of Steven Hawking. Drown the whole lot in a sea of vodka and you'll have some idea of the scene.
It's possible that I am grossly misrepresenting Russian disco dancing, or maybe Steven Hawing, but that display was certainly a great way to finish off the Russian leg of the Trans-Siberian epic.