Novosibirsk Numero Uno

November 3, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

This morning I left Kazakhstan and flew to Novosibirsk, Russia. Novosibirsk is the capital of Siberia. It’s also an 11 hour time difference from Boston and the furthest East I am going on this survey trip (also the furthest east I’ve ever been in my life!)

Here’s a picture of Atyrau, just because I can.  Atyrau was the first place I went and it feels like a long time ago.  It’s just a rainy street near a supermarket, I think on the Asia side of town. It’s just so you get a sense of what it looks like. I’ll put another one to give more of a sense. Here’s a cool looking mosque, also in Atyrau:

I was so happy to leave Kazakhstan, this morning I had definitely had enough. The “get me out of here” moment came on Tuesday when I was walking down the street. It was freezing and windy and my legs were already stinging from the freezing cold. All of a sudden a bus drove by very rapidly and flicked up the slush on the road Just so that I was hit with an awful icy mud shower in the worst way possible. I got icy mud in my socks, my eyes, my hair. It made me even that much colder and stingy. I’m surprised you didn’t hear me swear thousands of miles away. When I went into a restaurant to warm up and get some tea, I got some serious looks.  “Oh come on this is your stupid city” I tried to tell the people with my eyes and face because I don’t know Russian or Kazakh.  Here’s a picture of a building I thought was very cool. I got hit with the icy mud in that area, but on a much Much grosser day.

I had also gotten tired of the taxi situation. Most people in Kazakhstan essentially hitch hike where they want to go. It’s very common practice to just put out your hand and hail any car that comes by. As woman alone that doesn’t speak any Russian (Many women do use this method of transportation) I was very uncomfortable with this. So, I was limited to going to places in the evening where I knew I’d be able to get someone to call a taxi for me (pretty much hotels and touristy restaurants). While I would usually, have no problem walking, it was too cold and dark and far to go anywhere in the night by foot.

This picture is also from Astana, I’m drinking tea after an absolute FEAST at a Turkish restaurant I went to where no one spoke English. What a fun lunch.

Earlier today, after an uneventful flight and passport control experience, I was ready to find transport to the hotel. However, I needed some Rubles. I went to the ATM machine in the airport and had to try a few times because the ATMs didn’t have any English! So far, the ATMs I’ve used have all had an English option… not here in Novo. Haha! I found that notable. With money in hand, I successfully got a taxi to the hotel. I think Rubles are less cool looking than Kazakh Tenge, they’re a little more boring. Just saying.

We arrived in a cloudy day/ light snowstorm, so the taxi ride from the airport to the hotel didn’t display Novosibirsk and surroundings in the best light. From the taxi, I saw a lot of mud and snow and industrial looking buildings. It felt like what you might expect if you think of winter in a city in Siberia.

I was happy and pretty relieved to find the hotel really nice. After I put down my bags, I went for a little walk to find some lunch. Here’s a picture from the walk. It’s on one of the main streets, Lenin Street. For some reason I thought it would be warmer here than in Astana, but this was incorrect. It’s definitely winter.  Maybe it’s a little less windy, and there are definitely more people walking around. I should have brought my rubber boots. For lunch, I went to a cool downstairs bar that I bet is Awesome in the night. No one spoke English there, and the menu was entirely in Russian, but somehow I got a glass of wine, a Greek salad, and french fries. The wine was decent, the Greek salad was pretty crap, and the french fries were Awesome. I used my phone to show pictures of what I wanted. 🙂 I needed some wine… it was five o’clock in Tokyo. Here’s just another picture from the walk on Lenin Street. This one is looking the opposite direction.

After the walk, I went back to my hotel and had an absolutely Awesome shower. The pressure here is Fantastic and I’m feeling like a new woman. I’m just delighted. I think I’m going to do some work, and then have dinner in the hotel. Not in the strip club in the lobby, but in the restaurant on the second floor.

I forgot to say Happy Halloween, so Happy Belated Halloween.

Love,
Anne

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