Wednesday, 1 August 2007


This is my brother's elementary school. I would have gone here if I hadn't moved the summer before 1st grade.

This is the ice rink where I learned how to ice skate. It's right next to the school.

The short balance beam in the center of this playground is where my brother broke his arm. He was 9 or 10 and I was 4 or 5. I still remember it clearly. He ended up running away from the hospital in his gown and everything because he hated it so bad.

This is the driveway our apartment balcony overlooked.

And this is our apartment balcony. Second from the bottom.

I used to play here all summer long.

I remember skinning my knee real bad falling off my bike right next to this slide.

It's all seems so distant. There are a million memories between now and then but I still remember so much detail. The wierdest part is walking around and remembering the feelings I had. Not the physical ones but my emotions. Recalling those feelings helped me realize why I am the way I am today. The last 13 years of my life influenced me but I think my strongest emotions have been with me since day one. One can change their behavior but perspective remains the same. It's funny how much a little courtyard can define me 13 years later.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Ленивый Вторник (Lazy Tuesday)

I don't know why Tuesday is such a great for laziness. Who am I kidding? Everyday is a good day to be lazy. I think Lazy Tuesday has a good ring to it. On this particular lazy Tuesday, we went to buy Ceroga rollerblades. We bought him a pretty snazzy pair of recreational skates with a color scheme almost identical to my freestyle pair. Then my parents and I continued the rollerblading lesson I started yesterday with Ceroga.

The rollerblades are an early 9th birthday present. He's a pretty big boy for almost 9.
Nothing else of significance happened cause it was a Lazy Tuesday and Wednesday was even less interesting so I'll just skip it.


I finally got to explore my home town a bit today. Ceroga, Andre Hapugin's younger son, put on some rollerblades with me and Ctopka showed me his school. I was teach Ceroga on the way there and he's a really quick learner. When we go to Ctopka tried the skates on and I told him to practice standing on one leg. I didn't manage to get any pictures of Ceroga but you can see his kneepad in this picture.

I also showed them how to grind and they filmed for me.

In the evening, we went to a classy restaurant called Res-Pub-Lica.

Peeing on Tom and Jerry's face was ultra classy.

Another Siberian sky at 11pm.

купатца в классна реке

Breakfast today was a Russian-style pizza. Of course, it was nothing like pizza but it was a tasty creation anyways.

Afterwards we hunted for a nice spot a river to soak up some sun. The river was fantastically cold. We would jump in, swim till we got cold, get out, lay down till we get dry and hot, and jump in again.

Afterwards was a 10 hour ride home. Nothing amazing happened except that I actually managed to fall asleep in a car for once. Too bad it only lasted 20 minutes. We got to Novosibirsk at almost 2am and went straight to sleep.

Friday, 20 July 2007

телецкое озера

We went on a boat ride around the lake right after breakfast.

China, Russia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan come together in the Altay Mountains. I guess everyone wanted a piece of this beauty.

The first waterfall our guide us showed could only be enjoyed from the boat.

For the second waterfall, we had to disembark and hike.

The hike was short and they took money from us for using the wooden walkway that took us over the tic-infested brushes.

Near natural attractions like this waterfall, Russians love tying pieces of cloth to the trees. Some just tear the strips right off whatever their wearing, others come prepared. The idea is that if you leave something behind you'll have a reason to come back. This tree illustrates how much of a tourist trap this waterfall is.

When we got back on our boat, our guide offered to take us to a second waterfall for an extra charge. We weren't in a rush so we took him up on the offer and it was well worth it.

We were the only people there for most of the time and we spent a lot of time there soaking in the tranquility.

We even got our feet wet.

We made it back in time for lunch. At the resort we were staying, breakfast, lunch, and dinner were included and everyone was served the same thing. I don't know what to call this style of service but its great cause it eliminates the stress I often experience when I don't know what I want but am forced to decide from a menu of a hundred choices.

These cows wandered the resort like the owned the place. Normally, there would be somebody playing volleyball here but this afternoon it was the cows turn to hang out.
After lunch, we tried searching for a beach away from our resort because my parents didn't like the beach that was right next to our rooms. We took a walk along the lake but after I got bit by one too many of the vicious flies that can make you bleed. I turned around early and went back to the beach next to our rooms and read there until they came to pick me up 3 hours later for dinner.

After dinner we took a walk along the beach in the opposite direction. We walked past a couple of people having camp fires on the beach and decided to make one of our own.

On the way back we saw a bar on the beach so we stopped in for a beer. They turned the music on real loud and it turned into a dance club. The people there could dance a lot better than at our resort and we stayed all the way until closing.

On the way home I almost stepped on this ugly little fellow.


I spent the night in the dorms as a figure of speech. I actually stayed up the whole night working the blog expecting to sleep on the 10 hour ride to Altai. The folks picked me up at 6am and as always, I had difficulty sleeping in the car so I listened to Russian rap and read most of the way. When we got there everyone was real excited about the beautiful location.

We got there just a little too late to catch lunch but we did catch a free dinner that was included in the resort package.

After dinner we walked around the resort soaking in the nice cool air. It was very refreshing after the everyday heat that we've been experiencing the last few days. There were two old rusty ships permanently docked as reminders of the origins of the resort so we had a little photo shoot with them.

I love sunsets in Siberia.

The fog rolled in over the lake and looked absolutely gorgeous.

After the walk we headed back to the the tent we had dinner for a little discoteca. Don't let this picture fool you, Russian's can't dance. Or atleast no better than the posers in the American dance clubs.

My mom told me that her massage left her feeling too relaxed for dance and it didn't make any sense to me. I was trying to get her to dance with me the whole night but she ended up saving herself for her brother.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

последний день в юрге

Last day in Urga. We cooked some more pirojkis for the road and say our final goodbyes. My grandma decided to bring all the clay figures me and my brother made in our childhood. We couldn't take them from ourselves but a picture is worth a thousand words.

Russia is funny because all this country villages are right next to the cities. Wish I had a picture to illustrate this point. I saw 20 story sky scrapers in the middle of neighborhoods like these.

If you thought American gas station toilets were bad and because no Russian travel blog would be complete without a photo of a "little house". Believe me when I say this is the rule not the exception. I could make a whole book out of these.

I also love how they don't tear down the old buildings but remodel the old.

Can't say much about this one except that Russians love their roots. Even if those roots happen to be just a generation ago.

Once again, Russian cloud kick @$$.

There are stores in Russia where they fill different size beer bottles straight from the tap. How awesome is that? From half-liter to four-liter bottles.

I know these bread, potato, tomato, and cucumber dinner pictures are getting repetitive but look beyond them to see the real Russian treats.

After dinner, I went skating with my cousin and her boyfriend. She's definitely a more able rollerblader than him. That's why he's flipping off the camera.

They took me around their university and I finally found some decent art.