And at the same time probably the most Eastern point of our trip. We are in Sakhalin island and tomorrow we will head South to Japan. We are in deep need of some civilization. We are dreaming of Japanese onsens (hot baths) for couple days now. The main thing I’ve learnt from this two months trip in Russia is that, next time I will travel here I should learn more Russian before hand.
While one can get along the trip and go everywhere knowing just the basic travel Russian (buy train tickets, check-in at hotel, understand the restaurant menu) you cannot really enjoy the country if you do not speak the language. People are eager to talk to you but there is a barrier, museums are just in Russian, books in shops which could give you ideas where to go are just in Russian.
But I’ve enjoyed a lot, even if I’ve dozens of complaints. I found great the Buryatia School and the chance given by Aiuna to us to be the first foreigners to visit those two small villages near the Mongolian border. I found wonderful to travel day and night in the on-time Russian trains, in the open platskarty compartiments full of people, full of smells, full of live. Was magic to visit and sleep at local people houses, see their habits, understand their difficulties and hear to their dreams. An important Russian word I discovered here was “Remont” (repair). I hope much of it gets fixed before my next visit. I definitely want to redo this whole trip in some years from now (even if some places I would like to re-visit soon).
More posts about Russia will come later. Now is time for quick re-look into Japan (we were already there two weeks in 2007).