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Maly Goes To The Motherland Ep 4

By Lawrence Benedict 'Malystryx' Phillips
Jul 31, 2007 20:09

Back by Popular demand, since the last episode my brother has forced me to use another keyboard connected to his laptop because I keep “typing too hard” and the letter “o” keep coming loose on his laptop and I call him to put it back on ^^. Just a taster of future episodes I’ve been to a Russian Circus, a Russian Zoo, been to a Russian “bagna” (Sauna) and much more! I’ve taken over 800 photos so far and now you can look at some on the]Malystryx's Motherland Gallery[/url]! Please note all photos were taken with my mobile phone so some are not great quality :( ?
Today was the sightseeing day, a chance to see the heart of Novosibirsk, my brother lives about 5-10 minutes outside the city, over the River ob. My parents and I decided to travel just the 3 of us to give my brother and his family a break. My brother had designed a cool “treasure hunt” which was a way of making sure we did not wander aimlessly but had some kind of program of what to see. This consisted of stuff like “What is the building behind the statues? -__________ Have your photo taken in front of the big building” and it involved some kind of guesswork since the name was either in Russian or not there so we had to ask or guess, each of us had our own answer sheet. It was a ingenious way to really walk around the city and not miss the important things.
The “hunt” began once we got off the metro with 3 statues towering above us. One was clearly Lenin, one was a group of 3 soldiers and the other a statue of what seems to be a man and a woman trying to raise a flag. From what I could work out the soldiers represented the army defending the country, Lenin the leader although I was not too sure about the 3rd statue of the man and the woman, I assumed it meant worker or like the common man doing his best for “the motherland”. It was in fact a worker and a peasant, the worker represented industry and the peasant agriculture. The statues are pretty ace, The Lenin one looks like something out of Metal Gear Solid, Revolver Ocelot I think the guys name was? ~ Maly & Lenin
Some other challenges included going into a post office and buy an envelope, the function of a particular building or the name of a statue. The centre of the city is extremely impressive, with many points of interest and completely different to where we were staying. There was an “Irish pub” with a big fat Irish priest above the door, many statues and beautiful buildings all within walking distance.
It is only recently I’ve learnt to appreciate these kind of things, I think it’s the result of being with my girlfriend, I learnt to appreciate more things. When I was younger, a thought of looking at some buildings would result in me yawning and saying something along the lines of “oh my god. How exciting.. not”. The city is very young, a lot of young Russian women who seem to all have boyfriends significantly less attractive than themselves, one of them even looked like Bill Gates and I had to resist running after them to take a photo!
Lunch was probably the most challenging part of the day, we went to a chain called “Jili Byli” which is considered a “Russian restaurant”. It was a really cool restaurant, it was all in theme and was like being in a forest a large fake tree looming over the 2 floors of seating areas. Although with the chairs being made of pure oak it was quite tiring! Feeling pretty comfortable with our Russian it was our first time without the presence of my brother or his wife to translate in case of emergency. Luckily they had an English menu, however the waitress did not know what everything was on the “English Menu” which led to extreme complications and resulted in another employee trying to attempt to comprehend our “broken” Russian
My Russian was getting quite good, I know how to conjugate verbs such as; to work, to study, to want, to know, to hear, to speak and the most important to understand but that is not always enough. You can always memorise the expected answers A & B but the problem is when the answer C, the unexpected answer presents itself that you find yourself in deep trouble. This is particularly frequent in ordering food and it took us about 5-10 minutes to order correctly and we gave the waitress a well deserved tip!
After that we saw a church which marks the geographical centre of Russia, the church seemed popular with a bride and groom having wedding photos being taken. Although interesting the more note worthy point that this church is in the middle of the main road with 2 lanes of traffic constantly flowing either side!
I also ran into a giant Ant, two mime acts as well as travelling on the Metro for the first time. Russians do not seem to smile much and my smiling at anyone who stares at me seems to be an unexpected response and seems to get the giggles of a good few Russian girls! One thing that strikes me after being in the city compared to the UK is the fact there are no “Westerners” (a term I started to use after meeting my girlfriend) as well as a lack of any Indians or Chinese.
Inspired by the Matrix everyone seems to be “100% home grown Russian, born right here, in the Motherland”, there is a presence of Asians from other neighbouring countries though such as Ouzbekistan, Kazakstan, Kurdistan etc… but its not such a mixed environment here in Novosibirsk compared to the UK. Back home in Italy the only foreigners are Marrocans or Tunisians or other members of other African nations who stalk the beaches and follow mothers as they go for their weekly shop, not here though!
Although if I am geographically at the centre of Russia it seems unlikely if there is a presence of Westerners that it would be here, is seems more logical they’d be in Moscow or cities more close to national borders. Either way people pick up we’re speaking English and Russians jump at any chance to use their random collection of English words. The lack of foreigners seems to result in Russians never really speaking foreign languages since many can not afford to study abroad.
The older generations know German, mainly because Russia controlled East Germany for a long period of time. French was also learnt but it was used in olden times by the Russian Nobility before the revolution. These days the younger generations of Russians seem to all learn English just very little opportunity for them to use it. Makes me rethink about Russians posting on SK forums, it’s a great outlet for them to practise and to keep their 2nd language fresh.
I came home to check my email to receive congratulations on being nominated for the E-Sports Journalist Award. I was very proud, it was finally something I could show to people outside E-Sports that they can acknowledge as an achievement, and even my parents who normally frown upon gaming were impressed. They all asked how to vote, although Sophia (my 3+ year old neice) did not seem to really catch on and just said “Uncle Lollence can we want Bambi”. I think mym]Nordahl is right when I saw his comment saying people will vote for who they know not necessarily who is the best but whether a popularity contest or not I think all who were nominated should be very proud and I will try to avoid getting the lowest %of votes! :D
Instead of Linking Photos in each episode I've made an SK Gallery and I'll keep adding pictures.

Maly Goes To The Motherland Ep 3

By Lawrence Benedict 'Malystryx' Phillips
Jul 29, 2007 10:01

I'm actually really behind on doing the blog, I've got photos and videos of each day but atm its Sunday Day 7 and this is the blog for Day 3 so many more blogs to come! We're here for 10 days in total
Today we went to what in Russia is called the "dacha" which is in their eyes a "summer house", this one was owned by couple who are friends of my brothers and his wife. The morning started with going round a huuugeee supermarket. That is what is so ridiculous about Russia. It is such a clash of advanced technology and a huge collection of shops but no money seems to be going into the surroundings. People have mobile phones, laptops, there are huge shopping centres but then there is also such neglect, roads are just a joke holes in them, buses seem to be some 70s hippy van with engine parts exposed, housing areas look like they've just been bombed, it just doesn't make sense.
When I asked my brother why is this he said "its the constrast between private and public space, private spaces owned by particular individuals who invest time and effort into improving and maintaining them. public space owned by everyone and no-one". So basically it is because no-one really owns the public spaces, like the play area near housing estates etc.. so in the end no-one bothers to maintain them. If they are maintained it is because someone was feeling kind and decided a jungle is not the best place for the children to play and they cut the grass.
I asked my brothers wife and she said its to do with communism, she is actually Russian so I thought her opinion might shed some light. In the communist age there was nothing available so people had huge bank accounts filled with money then in 1991 the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R) was disbanded and then each of each of the 15 republic at that stage became indepedent countries like Kazakstan (Borat! Yeshemesh), Ukraine, Belarus etc. After this more technology was available, so people wanted to have it. As my brother Russell pointed out Russia is all about perceptions to roads inside the big cities are really good then outside very poor, bricks of apartment blocks are much nicer on the outside than on the inside.
The same with technology, people live in holes but hey they have mobile phones or laptops, they want to spend their money the moment they get it instead of perhaps saving for a house. I find it funny sometimes but I think its like a misconception that Russia is like a 3rd world country, all the resources are there just the people just have different ideas of what they think they should spend their money on. I saw the "nicer" side of Russia on Day 4 (Ep 4) but that will come soon ^^
Back to the episode at hand the "summer house". We went round this massive supermarket, this place was huge. We found the couple who's "dacha" we were going to, they had just got married, the husband was 19 and the wife was 23. Me and Sophia (my neice) went in their car and started the journey. Normal journey to begin with but then we find ourselves on a rally racing track, this was not a road, it was a dirt path with holes disguised as a road, we had to swerve from side to side to avoid the biggest holes and all the time the car was going up and down with clouds of dusts firing into the windscreen. The driver seemed to be enjoying it though. In one part there was a motorway being built overhead, above the worst road in the history of the planet, typical russia, why not just improve this road instead of leaving the shit one?
]Video 1 of the Road to Hell[/url] | Video 2
After what seemed an eternity, Sophia and I were asked if we could close our eyes because the friends were embarassed by the rubbish heap. I agreed although my brothers wife said after she did not understand why, I understood why on the way back. Photo 1 | Photo 2
. This was not the dream house we had imagined and when we arrived we got out and were attacked! When I asked my dad about the dacha he said "The dacha was lovely as well as the welcome offered by the local insect population, mainly mosquitos, I was bitten 100 times before I got to the front door ".My god it was ridiculous. The house itself was really nice, a main “house” which was a lounge a kitchen then a bedroom upstairs, then lots of little sheds one which included a sauna or “bagna” as its called in Russian. Also it housed the toilet facilities. [url= After being massacred by mosquitos in an attempt to go for for walk I decided to go back with my t-shirt over my head to save me from dying. My dad and I then hid inside for a bit before going outside to chat and watch the barbecueing! My dad then commented it would be a nightmare if it rained because their garden was not organised just like earth/dirt so water would turn into a field of mud. We then noticed a large group of clouds forming which then unleashed a storm which included some heavy rain and some hail. My dad and I hid inside with Sophia while the host Alexi obviously decided the show must go on and held a big umbrella while continuing to cook the barbecue.
In the end we ate our food (not too bad), and then the hosts said bye for some reason. They suddenly just left?? They left us keys to tidy up ^^ then we went back down the road from hell but this time it was worse because it was completely muddy and the Alexi guy had already got stuck when they left an hour earlier and someone had to pull them home. LOL. Summer house. Summer Hell more like.

Maly Goes to The Motherland Ep 2

By Lawrence Benedict 'Malystryx' Phillips
Jul 26, 2007 16:59

Maly Goes to the Motherland Ep.2
Well I think the other blog seemed well received so I'll continue my tales of the Motherland. The city we are in is called Novisibirsk which has a population of +- 2 million. It is one of the most populated cities in Russia along with cities such as Moscow (12 million) and St Petersburg. Where we were staying was on the outskirts so outside the main city but like a 5 minute metro journey into the city so not too far. So in the last blog I told of my journey to the Motherland this time I'll talk about the first few days as well as things I've noticed about Russia.
Well the first shock for my parents was where my brother actually lives. My brother has a trick of mentioning quietly things such as "remember to bring some shoes for the mud" but failed to specify where this mud actually would be. his house is in a large courtyard with 4 big apartment blocks facing towards and a small road running around the centre. The road itself was to put it bluntly "shit" so I think we were all a little anxious but when we got to where my brother lived they had really made the place nice, really comfy (inside), outside and around the apartment lived up to my previous statement when we were shown pictures of "nice, is this iraq?". I think its important to mention this is in the outskirts of the city, the poorer area not right inside the city ^^
Ill do a quick Intro of the family to avoid me having to introduce people later ^^^
Mum & Dad = self explanatory -]Mum & Dad in Italy ~ Photo[/url]
Russell = Eldest brother (33) lives in Russia with his wife and 2 children
Oxana = Russell's Wife, she now looks after the kids but before worked for a Law firm.
Sophia = oldest niece 3 and a half years old -> Photo 1 | Photo 2
Kiera = youngest Niece 5 months old Strong Baby
Well the first day was uneventful trying to survive jetlag for the first time. I tried to keep to the new timezone (i.e. not going to sleep when im used to) but I fell asleep in the evening in the end :( Next day (Tuesday) we began the meeting of the RUSSIAN family. OXana has an uncle and an aunt who live together and we wait to visit them, our first experience of meeting russians in Russia. Russians are quite interesting because it is impossible to tell what they are thinking. Most people you can see if they or sad or angry but Russians have a very serious expression which their face returns to after they speak or laugh or whatever. So a lot of the time we were unsure if we'd said something offensive but then they end up suddenly bursting into laughter then we were like "Phew.." then suddenly back to the serious face. Interesting. Russians seem quite cool as in they are not too formal, I don't like formalities too much, that is why I hate Japanese restaurants every second some woman is bringing you something, a serviette, a bowl, a pair of chopsticks. I prefer to eat without all this seriousness just chill, relax and enjoy. ~ THE AUNT - tell me what is she thinking? mm?
Everything is so spaced out in Russia, the amount of nature wa something that shocked my mum, no idea why. Big roads, lots of shops, lots of forests, fields, overall quite a nice environment aside from the fact every apartment block is identical. The aunt had kindly helped us "register" which meant another form to fill out this time prove we were where we said we would be. We had to go into an official building and wait in a long queue. Luckily the aunt had gone a few hours earlier and done the whole waiting for us, by the time we got there she just handed them the forms we had filled out and it was all over!
I've noticed Russians here don't bother with making buildings fancy. Every building I've gone into if it serves some purpose for the gouverment, even the sports facilities they do not bother making it flashy or having a middle-aged secretary who knows how to pull a smile all day its just bare. It does its purpose, people come, they give in forms, they leave. people come, they play sports, they leave. A good way to save money! It does make you think do we really need all this fancy stuff all the time? Its a bit fake really.
Russians take administration very seriously, most find it annoying but they just accept it and get on with it. That was sort of surprising, so used to british people moaning about buses, trains, my hamburger is cold that when Russians just accepted it I found it quite refreshing. go RUSSIANS! We then went home through the wilderness, it was crazy, grass overgrown everywhere, bushes invading the pavement at parts you had to wait for people to come through so you could pass!
The Aunt and Uncle lived in a tiny apartment, it was 3 rooms basically with the kitchen and toilet being tiny, the lounge was ok but it had the double bed in it and one sofa. We managed to squeeze in 7 adults and 2 kids somehow and then began the questioning. Lack of formalities is cool but the aunt and uncle were asking us all sorts of questions! I was asked if I was single so they could get me a Russian wife, I said I already have a girlfriend for a long time. This is normally followed by the question "oh is she nice?" but it followed by the serious face turning into a face of horror and disgust once I mentioned she was Chinese.
From what I've been told by my brother his wife as well as other russians, marrying a non-white person seems to be a criminal act. They then proceeded to ask her name, how much she earnt, where she lives, can she support me in the future? is she a good cook? I'm quite honest so I answered all the questions, not necessarily with the truth but I answered them all! ;D I suddenly felt the urge to go to the toilet and managed to end the conversation. Relaxed I then checked my surroundings, WOAH! Thats an interesting bath [url=] [Photo. There was no tap on the sink they'd cleverly rigged the bath tap to be able to flick over and pour into the sink.
The Aunt and Uncle seemed to like, the aunt said I was "Nice boy" and I should stay a "nice boy" and not have Chinese girlfriend, I nodded politely and we said thankyou for the food and the hospitality. When I got home I was completely worn out from jetlag and question and ended up sleeping from 6pm-00:00am. then staying up for 6 hours before going to bed and waking up at 10:00am for the NEXT TRIAL!

Maly Goes to The Motherland Ep 1

By Lawrence Benedict 'Malystryx' Phillips
Jul 24, 2007 22:40

Maly Goes to The Motherland Day 1
I thought since my trip to Russia has been crazy so far I might share the experience with you all!
Well it has been such an experience so far, European countries have tended to be all quite similar but Russia is a completely different story. I flew back to Italy for 10 days to visit my parents, I used to live in Italy but I left at 17 to study at University in England, all 3 of us then began the trip to the Motherland. We flew to Frankfurt which took an hour, then had to wait around 5 hours for the flight to Siberia.
I've been to Germany quite a few times but you never ceased to be amazed by how punctual everything is, every bus will arrive at the exact minute it says. We went out of the airport to go have some food but were quite sad to find the only place that was open was an Italian restaurant (coming from Italy -_-;) but we managed to get a good old German schnitzel and I had a Spezik (unsure how to spell it Coca-Cola + Fanta). ~
]Pro German Toilet Video[/url] ~ When I turn a tap, I expect water to come out...
When we got to Franfkurt Airport we got 3 hours delayed, but we went up to the shopping area, it was upstairs so you had to go the "escalator" and some bloke was trying to be clever and get the trolley with his suitcases on the moving escalator.
I thought it was quite original but my Dad was like watch out he could fall back but infact the escalator stopped because of the wait, I ran up the non-moving stairs quickly to take his "oh shit" face, he wasnt amused but hell he was stuck! He had to then climb over the trolley and lift his suitcases which were obviously ridiculously heavy. As we walked my dad just kept pointing at him and laughing, so evil but the bloke was obviously trying to play it cool.
Whats worse is I bet he felt really annoyed to see right at the top of the escalator were infact trolleys which you could use on this level! That's what you get if you try to be too clever! ~ Russian Tries to Be Clever Photo1 | Photo 2
When they flight was ready (finally) we got on and seated, I've never been on such a huge plane, it had 9 seats per row and it was quite exciting! When i was seated I took some quick photos, and my god are russian serious.
It was obviously a plane full of Russians, and it looked like they were preparing for the electric chair they were ALL completely serious I tried to smile to sort of say, "hey look im taking your photo" but they just became even more serious and you don't want an angry russian especially on a plane for 7 hours where you can't escape! ~ Serious Russians Photo 1
The flight was alright until I needed to go to the toilet, so I went to the front of the plane to go, as I came out the russian hostess comes and spams me in russian, she seems pretty pissed but then when I say "nie gavayu parruski" (dont speak russian - yea!) she then becomes calm (why is russian so aggressive??) and says this is the "1st class toilet". 1st class toilet what the hell is that? I've been to many toilets in my life if thats supposed to be first class I wasn't impressed.
1st class on planes is such a joke? What do they get a curtain and different coloured seats. 1st class toilet indeed, its a bloody necessity, whats next " im sorry you cant breathe here this is 1st class air"?? I prefer 2nd class you get fitter hostesses, the 1st class are always some old women who have reached the height of their career as hostesses (they can breathe 1st class air).
Well with the first few hours of the journey over we left at 10pm CET (after 3 hour delay) and russia is +5 CET so we'd arrive late morning. At 1am CET when everyone has finally got to sleep they decide to bring us food. Thanks. It was an ok meal the bread was probably the best part of it. Finally they go away and I managed to get like an hours sleep.
With about 5 hours of the 6 and a half gone we then remember we have MORE FORMS to fill in. This is the most ridiculous thing about Russia, how much paperwork you have to fill out. We have to get an official invitation from the party/family whatever to be able to apply for VISA, you have forms to fill out then on the plane we have to fill out a IMMIGRATION form another official document then the next day we ended up having ANOTHER form which was a registration to prove you went to where you said you were going to.
It just takes the piss, I feel like im applying for asylum or im a psychopathic murderer. Anyway we finally land in the Aiport at 5am our time, 10am Novosibirsk time.
As we begin to relax we then have passport control and have to give in our immigration form and show our visas. Now passport control is normally quite easy you maybe wait 10-15 mins MAX at an Airport especially big ones with lots of flights. This was just one flight and it took us TWO HOURS to get through pasport control.
My parents and I just could not believe it. It made me think about Russia now saying to UK it will cause problems with VISAS for British officials travelling to Russia, if this is them NOT causing a problem I would love to see Russia making a problem!
The Passport control had no particular system, no queues, people seemed picked at random a bit like a slave buying with people trying to look fit and healthy and ready to make the motherland a better place. It looked like a passport control like you have on a motorway, and the russians continued to be blank faced and seemed to accept the fact this was taking ageeeeeeeeesssss! ~ Passport Control Photo1.
Finally we got to our luggage now around 12am Russian Time, it was on the slowest conveyer belt I have ever seen, i've seen ones at the supermarket go faster. Picked up our luggage and then oh look another check this time for our luggage and passports. Unfortunately we were confused over the ticket we needed to present and my mum is easily stressed.
We showed the russians ( who were not officially dressed, they could be some russian just having a laugh) our ticket from the plane and they just pushed it away and kept saying "BIGLET BIGLET, TICKET TICKET" this is our ticket "TICKET TICKET" look mate we don't have any other tickets, then my mum is getting stressed pulling all these papers out and he keeps pushing it away TICKeT BIGLIET, then my dad just cooly presents the right tickets, we'd warned my mum not get arguementative.
She has a habit of saying "I'm a member of the British Empire" too much when people order her to do stuff and likes to fight and write angry letters to members of the British goverment, my dad and I actually say that to her when she's moaning "Well this is ridiculous, I'm going to complain" we just reply go and write a letter and stop moaning.
We finally get outside and my brother is waiting, FINALLY We're in the mother land. We step outside and hey its a barren wasteland, we got in his car and set off apart from my brother lost the ticket to show he had paid for parking and guess what? They decided he had to fill out... Another FORM! Woo hoo!
As he was doing that I stepped out of the car because I noticed what the Airport looked like, as you can see in [url= the Airport still needs a bit of work. I might be old fashioned but when I see an airport I expect it be finished being built -_-; As we drove off we noticed my brother had a big crack in his windscreen and the seatbelt didnt work, I was told not to laugh when we visited his home but hell this place is amazing.
We noticed the roads have no markings, and people were fixing the roads with no cones. Everyone seems to have a broken windscreen, so I joked to my brother when my mum was moaning about it "your not a true russian unless you've got a broken windscreen, the more broken glass the better"
What a story and I've only just arrived! If people are interested Ill try to write about each day with some photos and maybe videos! :D
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