Happee Monkee

Photography, food & travel

From Russia With Love

By • May 26th, 2011 • Category: Travels

I wrote this on my iPhone on our way home from Moscow: “I would love to hate Moscow.”

There were some frustrating and intimidating moments like when I was held back longer than necessary at the border security and questioned rather rudely by the officer, only because, we think, I held a Malaysian passport.

We weren’t allowed in the Red Square nor were we given reasons why, while others were let in. The same thing happened again at the Kremlin.

We were told off at the airport while waiting patiently for our turn to get our boarding passes — for, get this, waiting a little too patiently. The lack of respect and friendliness was an enormous turn off.

So yes, I can find many reasons to dislike Russian hospitality.

But, that would be taking the easy road out and not all our experiences were so unfortunate.

When G. and I were obviously clueless at the metro, a kind person noticed and asked us in English, if we were lost. She then gave us directions on how to catch the right train line to our hotel.

One time when I was on trigger happy mode, I took photos of some soldiers as they marched by, a few of them turned around and waved at me. Even gave me a big smile.

And when I dropped my camera cleaning cloth, an elderly lady pointed it out to me until I finally understood what she was trying to say.

All that may seem like small gestures to some, but it counts as something in my books.

So, I could hate Moscow but that would cancel out all the kindness we received from the people we met. They took the effort to be kind and therefore, I will make the effort to remember their kindness and generosity.

Mind you, these are my own experiences and not necessarily true for others. Don’t strike Moscow off your travel list just yet. It is interesting and perhaps we would have a better time if we spent more days in the city. As it is, we only had a night and a day in Russia. So, we’d barely scratched the surface.

They had a few local delights like crêpes with salmon roe and a soda that looked like Coke but tasted anything but. In fact, it tasted a cross between root beer and soy sauce.

I loved the metro stations. They all looked very grand central to me. And I like their pasties, cheap and tasty.

Would I visit Russia again? No, personally I would not. It was far too much hassle for us even to apply for the visa and also, it cost too much. Tourists pay quite a sum to see the sights, and you know, maybe that’s why I’m so cheesed off. Maybe if the Russian authorities were slightly friendlier and respectful, for all the efforts we’ve made to see Moscow, I could at least try to like the city a little more.

I will still love Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky and all the great ballets ever written. I’ll still love vodka. I’ll always love the St. Basil’s Cathedral. And I’ll always be grateful and appreciative of the locals but no, I will not return to Russia*.


*Note: Unless I’m paid a ridiculously amount of money and treated like royalty, then maybe, I’ll consider.

I’ve added some of these photos on my Etsy shop, have a look-see! Happee Monkee’s Etsy

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8 Responses »

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience!
    The strange soda could be an original Russian drink made from roasted rye bread and fermented. Now it’s all made of concentrates and doesn’t taste so well, but I remember in my childhood (as my country was part of the SU), it was made in large barrels and sold on the streets right from them in summer time.

  2. Ahhh that’s very interesting! Thank you for explaining it to us :-)

  3. I live here all my life and still don’t understand why people are so rude here(((( moscow for me is the most rude city and at the same time very expensive. even though we have nice places to visit i think the goverment doesn’t make it easier for tourists to come

  4. Thank you for your comment Demy. I really wished I had nicer things to say about the authorities. Perhaps one day, one day, things will change for Moscow. :)

  5. I forget to mention in my post that I think the men and women in Moscow are stunning!

  6. Very interesting to read about your encounters with the authorities as these are the first people you meet in a country. The pictures look amazing though! Love those buildings! But like you, I wouldn’t pay an arm and a leg to visit something that’s now very touristy. I didn’t in Venice either, feels so much like being taken advantage of!

  7. Ahhh but in Venice, it’s worth it just seeing the gondolas and the buildings. We’ll be going to Venice this August to kick off our Italian honeymoon

  8. Apart from the weird experience, I must admit that your photos are wonderful!

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