Don’t you love 6am flights and the 3am wakeup call that goes with them? Because what you really want when you are travelling through multiple airports and timezones, through places where they really don’t speak your language, and through endless post 911 security lineups, is to be absolutely, mind-bogglingly exhausted.
To cut a long story short I have arrived in a city ‘a few hundred miles outside of Moscow’, and am settling in to the only hotel in town with a broadband connection. That of course was the primary requisite luxury, and after spending the last two hours trying to get it to work, I finally feel connected with the world again.
My arrival here was not without some difficulty. The airport in question is definitely of the Post-Chernobyl style that is so popular here, mixed in with something out of World War One and a deserted outpost long since left to ruin. The character in the picture above was the receiving party and as you can probably tell from the lady next to him, it’s freakin’ freezing here.
I had been warned that this town is not the safest or most law abiding, and that everybody who works for the government is on the take – Translation: bribery is rampant. I smelled a rat when I was told there was a problem with my passport at immigration (I use the term loosely), and was told I would have to wait a while why they made some ‘enquiries’. In the end it wasn’t a trick to try to extract valued US dollars from me, rather they didn’t like the look of my admittedly very pale passport photo. Even in the former USSR, where the sun rarely shines, and people look like milk bottles, my pasty white skin is apparently too transparent for their liking. Having finally convinced them the ‘invisible man’ in the passport photo was in fact me, they let me into the country.