Getting Russian Visa in Beijing

As always the website of the embassy is shit and the visa requirements page didn’t work for me when I needed it. Russia is a tricky country because regarding the visa they have sort of different policies in different countries and it’s pretty frustrating to go to the embassy just to find out you are missing some documents. It was pain in the ass to find any updated information for tourist visa so I decided to post this quick post.

My 30 days single entry tourist visa cost: 288RMB for 5 processing days + 15€ visa support.

Continue reading “Getting Russian Visa in Beijing”

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Back in Beijing

Click here for a map of the trip

Last evening I came back to Beijing, which felt like a miracle. Many times during my 9 day trip I felt like I would never get back and for the rest of the times I didn’t want to go back until that one day when everything went wrong and all I wanted was to get back to Beijing. How do I feel now that I am back? Actually, I don’t know. I have one month left and coming back to work for only one month feels kind of useless. I didn’t have this feeling of coming back home for some reason or maybe because the last few days of the trip were so awesome I got a little ‘after trip’ depression. Continue reading “Back in Beijing”

Winter Trip Plans

Chinese New Year is nearing and I will have 9 days off work, which makes me lucky. At our hotel not many people get a long holiday, a few days at most. The public holiday is 3 days 31st-2nd. But the VIP lounge is closed for a week and 3 days so that’s why I get time off, and even if we weren’t closed I would have asked for a week off. This is the only chance for me to travel so I will, even though it’s going to be hellishly crowded everywhere and there would be enough activities in Beijing as well. It’s a pity I don’t get to see the capital city empty, maybe next time. Continue reading “Winter Trip Plans”

Around Chongqing: Dazu

Dazu Buddhist Caves 

These caves are UNESCO World Heritage. This doesn’t make them into a breath taking absolutely must see place but it’s a nice and relatively easy day trip from Chongqing. I’m not sure why these are called caves because they are mostly carvings on the cliff side, some are pretty big and some over 900 hundred years old. The themes are Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. We definitely did not see any caves, one small grotto that’s all. There is also a temple and a little garden, nothing too special but quiet and peaceful. (Take your student card along and you get 50% off from the entrance fee. They only accept Chinese, Taiwanese, Hong Kong or Macao student cards but it doesn’t kill to try with your western one! Lie that yours is from Macao or something.)

Continue reading “Around Chongqing: Dazu”

Kazakhstan – The Land of Borat

Nature or nothing.

 

I decided to go to Kazakhstan because I had some friends there and wanted to visit them, in the end I only had time for the two guys in Almaty but it was still fun, from there I took train to Astana and then continued to Russia. I hope my Kazakhstani friends don’t read this blog post or they will start hating me. Find out why.

The Borat joke begins, WAWA WIWA! 

I met these guys in China, we studied in the same university. There was also a guy from Italy, Britts, Finns and Koreans. But anyway, we once watched Borat and this Italian guy fell in love with the movie, WAWA WIWAA became our hello, and we made “King of the castle” jokes about anything king of the cookies, king of Vietnam, king of the room, Kimg of the library, king of the KTV, king of everything.  We also made sure to talk with Borat accent.

However our Kazakhstani friends didn’t like Borat, at all. In fact they hated Borat with passion and threatened, while walking around in Kazakhstan sports wear, that if  Sacha Baron Cohen ever came to Kazakhstan he would be beaten to death. We tried to explain really hard that we understood Borat was just a joke but it didn’t seem to sink into their brains. They just madly hated Borat, blindly. Later when I came to Kazakhstan and they made sure to show me all the cool places they asked jokingly: “So what do you think? It’s not like in that Borat movie around here, right? Hehe. ” I could hear it in their voices, as if they were saying “We told you Kazakhstan is not some retarded village.” They never understood no one ever thought so in the first place and I still don’t get why.

Back in China I am not sure who started this joke but since one of the guys was tall, one middle height and the girl really small we started calling them  (behind their backs)  Da (big in Chinese) Borat,  Zhong Borat(middle) and Xiao Borat (small). In fact we had a lot of fun until one other Italian guy went and blurted this out to the Kazakhstani friends, he had no idea they didn’t know about this.

One evening I am in my room, having my dark period which doesn’t mean period as you think, but a time period when I just write my stories or whatever and don’t come out of the room.  Suddenly Xiao Borat runs into my room, her face red from rage and starts asking questions. “Did you know? Who started this? We will show him what’s his place! He is so dead! making fun of us like this!” I tried real hard not to laugh, but seriously, no matter what I said she wouldn’t calm down. Soon she left, still angry, huffing and puffing.

In the end there was a huge argument between the guys, I stayed out of it for safety reasons. The Kazakhstani guys said bitterly “But you know what, in Britain it always rains so you can’t go out and play” which was supposed to be a huge insult for our British friends … … What comes to Italians, the Kazakhs started talking about the ‘Italian who went to Malta’ – youtube video, if you haven’t seen it go watch, it’s super funny. It was supposed to insult out Italian friend but he just found it funny instead. They argued and argued until nothing was the same anymore, and our Kazakhstani friends stopped hanging out with us, they just wore their Kazakhstan sportswear and smoked cigarettes by themselves in a small group. Gangsters.

Anyway, I kept my relationship with them just okay and so I was able to visit them this summer. I was supposed to visit the girl too but she lived too far. One of the guys lives in Almaty and the other in a small village but he came to Almaty so we could hang out. Since it was the end of Ramadan and there are many muslims in Kazakhstan, my friends too, they had a huge dinner party and we got to join in. I must admit Kazakhstan food is nothing special. Sorry. But visiting someone’s home is always a very fun experience, though everything in Kazakhstan reminds me terribly of Russia.

Sightseeing the subway

I must admit that there is nothing (much) to see in Kazakhstan unless you go meet friends or go trek on mountains.  The mountains are very beautiful and the landscape similar to Russia, just majestic. Tourist sights… well, so so. If you want to go on a trek it must be organized beforehand, a month in advance at least.

The public transportation is really badly organized, luckily in Almaty you can walk trough most of the sights by foot in half a day and in Astana there is a bus which will take you to most of the places. In Almaty they have subway but it doesn’t go anywhere useful. The locals call it a “tourist attraction” and they took us to the subway just to see how amazing it was though it was nothing special, really. On every station there was a huge picture of their president Nursultan Nazarbayev, just like pictures of the assholes in North Korean metro, or pictures of famous poets etc. Our friends insisted that the wall, or parts of it, was covered in gold but seriously… it wasn’t.  The subway was new, pleasant and quiet, not many people used it. And we mostly saw some tourist taking pictures there even though it’s forbidden, ah well… Actually many earthquakes happen in Almaty so the building project of the subway had always been disputed, still they are going to build more lines soon. more tourist attractions for locals… There are some nationalities I will never understand.

So in Almaty most people transported by cars or taxis. I didn’t see even one normal taxi, all were just random cars. You stand by the roadside and stick out your hand, just wait till someone stops and then you can start negotiating for a price. If you don’t know any Russian or Kazakh this procedure is almost impossible. There are trams and buses but then you have to have a travel guide to know which one will get you where.

In Astana everything is easier if only you can read Russian (because the places where the buses go were written on the sides), most of the buses go to the train station or near it and from there you can go anywhere. People are mostly pretty friendly so asking directions shouldn’t be impossible, language barrier might be an issue. Though our Kazakhstani friends, of course, tried to make their country sound as macho as possible always reminding us how bad the people are and how some get killed just for a phone.

In Almaty most of the sights are just some monuments or palaces, like sports palace or culture palace etc. There is a nice museum about the country’s history, minorities, relations, wars and the beloved precedent whom they like to call “daddy” as a joke, of course (or?). There is a also the highest mountain range in the world (for winter sports) with the largest area of artificial ice field – Medeo. But it’s just an ice rink and nothing more. From there you can take a cable car to the mountains but it’s damn expensive. If you have a car you can also go to a picnic, we did this. On our way back we stopped to buy horse milk which was kind of alcoholic drink, from the nomads. Just a day before my friends tried to convince me that the nomad culture was dead for good. Typical Kazakhstan…

 Daddy’s will is the law

Astana, is by far, the weirdest city I have been to. It’s true that some years ago it used to be just a random village when suddenly the Daddy decided to make it the capital. No matter if most of the transnational companies who have business in Kazakhstan prefer Almaty anyway. No one really cares about Astana. Except the Daddy himself.

We went to see all the must see sights in the new city center (like the palace of peace which is just an ugly pyramid with expensive entrance tickets and nothing inside). But it was way too artificial and there were no people, it reminded me of an empty, fake, boring, huge, useless amusement park no one cares about. The most interesting place in Astana was former house of the Daddy where we could look at his accomplishments in life and the gifts he had received from other countries, reminds us of North Korea, right? When we arrived to the museum it was closed for lunch, I never understood this habit of communist countries. Is it that hard to hire enough people so when others have their lunch the others can keep the place running? Idiots. We also visited the museum of modern arts, there were a few nice pieces buried in trash, this is my opinion.

The stupidest thing is that, you never know if you are in a city or a village. The new city center is build somehow separately on the other side, if you start from train station you go trough this village, kind of, then pass new high story buildings surrounded by nothing, no shops, no restaurants, then come somewhere with a lot of space and a few huge monuments, a mosque, a huge park, then there is a concentration of high story buildings and ridiculously huge hotel build in Chinese style then there is a huge highway surrounded by nothing really, then a street lined with super expensive shops, you come back to soviet style blocks of flats, then a marketplace, there are some even older wooden houses who all sell tombstones (seriously, everyone was selling tombstones, there would be houses next to each other only selling tombstones), a few cafes, overpriced shops which sell worse crap than they sell in Russia and you are back at the train station. WTF just happened? Makes no sense. You can smell it in the air, the artificial city. And in the end you come to a conclusion that it’s crazy, it can’t work, never.

There is one good thing I can say about the Daddy, when he came to power he gave up on the nuclear weapons. He simply said Kazakhstan doesn’t need them.  He did something every ‘daddy’ should do. But did you know about this?

Green and water for high price in Russian

Kazakhstani people don’t know how to use the irrigation systems. I regret not taking video of the broken nozzles which were either attacking bypassers, drowning the plants or trying to create lakes. Either they were shooting in wrong direction or just leaking on the ground, sometimes the flow of the water was too powerful rising up towards the sky and sometimes it was plainly shooting to the side like from a hosepipe. Not only in one place but all around Almaty and Astana, it was like this. Instead of healthy grassy areas there were swamps.

Kazakhstan seems pretty clean and well taken care of, Almaty was a very pleasant city with a lot of green (swamps?), some part of Astana too. Everyone can speak Russian so if you can speak it or Kazakhstan then you can get buy very easily. The service was better than in Russia, you can see the difference already in the embassy when getting your visa. Except the tourist office at Astana train station, when I asked about the museums she said: “Of course, I don’t know.” What the hell did she mean with “of course?!”

Sadly everything in Kazakhstan is ridiculously expensive if you think about the pays people get. Kazakhstan is definitely not a budget destination. Okay, vodka was cheap so if nothing else then… Food in cheap places was worse than in Russia, way worse. As for hotels in Astana you can stay in a resting rooms at the train stations and in Almaty it’s possible to rent rooms even for a short time, the quality is good and the price low (about 40 dollars/2 people). Hotels start from 50 dollars and go up to heavens.

To get rid of the past

If you long to see nomads or pieces history in modern times, it is being actively erased instead of being melted into new, at least in bigger cities. You can sense, from people’s words and attitudes that they are eager to move on and they are definitely super proud of their new achievements. Everything old is in the past, not worth even mentioning. I don’t understand what they are afraid of. They don’t care about the past, maybe because it was tainted by communism, they only look forward. This is sad because they don’t appreciate what they already have, eager to get rid of it all. You should have heard with how much pride their voices were colored when my friends talked about the new achievements of their government. But achievements for who? The gap between rich and poor is growing day by day… while nationalism just grows stronger.

I didn’t see much beggars, a few gypsies with their kids annoying by passers and once a woman with a baby buggy approached me, I though she was going to ask for directions but she just asked for money for the child’s food. While remaining in confused state I gave her a few coins, breaking my vow to never give anything to beggars, except food. She really didn’t look like one either.

Everything is getting polished on the surface only.  Ask to be taken to a village, they will tell you there is nothing to see, ask to be taken to a bubbly market they will take you to a supermarket. Streets are lined with Gucci, Prada, Samsung and Apple. What they want you to see is all new, extravagant, soulless and empty.  Capitalism? Everything is screaming modern and striving to be recognized, but old soviet trams still run on the roads, still.

So if you really really want to go to Kazakhstan go for the nature and breathtaking landscapes – everything else is pure business.

Tuk tuk, madam? Where you go, sir?



This post will be about Cambodian tuk tuk drivers since that’s the only place where I have encountered any tuk tuk drivers during my life. My experience remains short (4 days) but during this time I met many of them and implied a few different tactics of bargaining. I also made some research about Cambodian tuk tuk drivers and read other blogs/ forum posts about this topic just to make this post more truthful, objective and to make more sense in general.

Complicated business

What I figured out during my trip was that the “get a ride” business is one hell of a business. Our moto drivers at the border, they had a deal with the taxi driver and got paid when they delivered customers to him. I didn’t know I should have bargained for the taxi price with them already. Another thing is that the drivers who hang out in front of hostels/hotels have to pay for it, they get more customers but have to share with the hostel owner. Every driver has to pay certain extra fee to the government on yearly basis for their “tuk tuk license”.

I read that used motorbikes usually sell for 200-250 dollars and usual yearly income for Cambodian is about 150-540 dollars so buying a moto, it’s a big deal. The drivers can get 0-200 dollars per month, sometimes they get nothing. Usually the tuk tuk is rented so when you are paying for your ride you are also helping with the rent fees. There will be advertisements on the tuk tuks, of hostels, cafes, clubs and restaurants. Know, if you take such a tuk tuk and the driver recommends what’s mentioned on the advertisement he will get extra profit for bringing you there. They also get extra profit if they manage to sell you a girl in a nice brothel. This is not a hint how to get best sex deals during your sex tourist trip, this just the sad truth and dam you if you are a sex tourist. See how connected these people are?

By no means are the tuk tuk drivers rich, they are poor no matter how many extra dollars they cheat from you (except if they have websites and own a business). Maybe the street vendors are rich but not the drivers. They are dirt poor and that’s why they make those sad faces when you offer too little money, probably most of the sob stories they pull on you are true too. But I don’t get it though. If a trip to the airport costs 5 dollars then ten trips would be 50 dollars already, 30 trips (1/day/month) ? 150$? This is considered a really good monthly salary in Cambodia. Beats me, really.



Bargain the best deal

You know, at first it was just a bunch of shabby looking men and their tuk tuks, all trying to get us ride with them for xx price, not that high but at least a bit higher than for locals. If you are not mentally prepared enough and take it all too lightly you will end up paying extra, might be just insignificant 1 or 2 dollars per ride but suddenly miraculously over 10 dollars a day. So if you stay for a week… Mamma mia!

When I arrived to Cambodia I was prepared to never trust anyone there, ever. Not even if I get friendly with some drivers, nothing will change the fact that I am just a walking wallet in these people’s eyes. Maybe this is not the best tactic because it will make you feel extremely anxious and suspicious about everything and everyone, eventually you will grow unbearably angry and start hating all tuk tuk drivers in whole world just because (that innocent looking smiling face and those “but it’s so far away” comments lies). It’s better to come prepared, with your guns loaded and your heart hardened.

1. Ask how much before getting on vs don’t ask, just get on and pay when you get off.  

I tried these both tactics and came to a conclusion that there is no much difference. If you negotiate the price beforehand it will make you feel better because if you think about 2 dollars, arrive, pay up and the driver is left unsatisfied, asking for more… it’s just sad. You negotiate the price and pay exact amount, no wavering or extra pity because they will/might ask you for more once you have arrived.

If you have decided to get on and pay later, you must know about basic local fares, which is not a problem anyway, you will learn fast. The problem lies in unsatisfied drivers and your own mental health. You know the basic fare and give just so much money but the driver stars protesting “What you give me? 2 dollars more.” Of course, there is always an option of nonchalantly walking away and maybe  probably getting yelled at by a driver who has nothing good to say to your sensitive, privileged, western, 1st world ears. But at least you have saved those few extra dollars you might have lost while negotiation the price beforehand.

2. Know the price. 

The answer is simple, google. There are travel blogs, forums and all kind of sites from where you can read latest information about tuk tuk fares. Know how much others paid and pay the same or a bit lower.

Another method is to pay a visit to a local gas station see how high is the price for gas  and calculate the answer in your head or with a help of an additional electronic devise. If you don’t know, ask the driver how many kilometers to the destination (a high possibility he will lie), you can even ask him how much does his moto use liters/km. I asked and the answer seemed pretty legit. If you know the price of gas it gives you a good advantage while bargaining.

One more thing, I did try asking people about the prices but especially locals refused to give any answers. They always had this “What? Are you stupid? Do you think I will really tell?” smiles on their faces. I’m telling you, it’s one huge plot of the whole society to rip off foreigners. Other travelers? They pay either more than you (and they will give you this moral crap for not sparing some 3 dollars) or less (and it’s just gonna piss you off). Just find out about the price before you come.

3. Negotiate. 

There is a high possibility for you to get lower prices if you ask one driver to work for you for several days. If he doesn’t show up the next morning it will be his loss, not yours (he won’t show up if someone else offers a better deal). And anyway, there are enough tuk tuk drivers just everywhere so you will never face the problem of not getting a ride. If one tuk tuk driver won’t budge from his “super high fares” just walk away, but know that he might follow you for several blocks while continuing his bargaining and he might make a scene in front of other drivers just to prevent you from getting other rides (but this is a case of extreme asshole drivers, most of them are decent people). What you should be aware of is that the tuk tuk drivers have this bad habit of grabbing your luggage and carrying it to the vehicle so you won’t have other options but to ride with them. Just exclaim:”Wait a minute!” and coolly stop them.

4. Know where to catch your ride. 

Definitely not in front of a nice hotel or even a hostel, not in front of restaurants, bus stations or even at the airport entrance. Just think about it, why are there only “fancy” looking tuk tuks in front of fancy hotels? Or will a driver who can speak English be more expensive than the one who can’t and would there be an English peaking driver in front of your hostel rather than a non English speaking one? It’s all a game like in Hollywood movies where fancy gentleman thieves go to Las Vegas to rob banks and Casinos, you have to think smart and be one step ahead, at all times. (Will this make you into a fat tourist without morals who is out there to cheat poor tuk tuk drivers while your pockets are full of money? If you want to put it so.)

At Phnom Penh, if you bother walking some 5 insignificant minutes away from the airport and to the roadside you will save several dollars. The same story when you negotiate for a tuk tuk ride to Angkor Wat yourself instead of asking the hotel reception.

5. The destination

The drivers are usually from the countryside, probably sold their lands in order to buy a vehicle, so they don’t really know the street names too well. When taking a tuk tuk it’s more convenient to tell the driver the name of the place you are going to instead of the address. They know most of the guest houses and all the important sights and markets (if they don’t know they will still attempt to take you there and might get lost, then they might demand more money upon arrival because “Sir, the gas is so expensive.”) When I showed the address, I had written down, to a moto drivers in Siem Reap (I forgot they use different alphabet) the only thing they understood was “Cambodia”. No shit Sherlock!


 Afternoon nap.

What I learned in December 2012 in Cambodia:

My friend said that in Thailand it’s better to just get on a tuk tuk without asking the price and then pay upon arrival, but if you don’t know the price it’s a bit hard. Anyway, I prefer bargaining in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises, at least in Cambodia. If you smile and are very friendly it’s easier to get the price down, Cambodians don’t like angry bargainers The price ranges between 1 to 3 dollars per person. Usually they settle for 1 $/person (a short trip) but 6000 riels (1,5$) is possible too (if you bargain well). From Phnom Penh airport you can get a cheaper tuk tuk outside the gates, 4-6$. And from the city to the airport it’s cheaper to get a tuk tuk not trough hostel/hotel but by yourself, same 4-6$. A taxi for a day might be cheaper option than a tuk tuk  but way more boring. Ankgor Wat should be possible for 12 dollars a day, we idiots paid 17 per day because we didn’t check the prices beforehand. Some paid over 20 dollars but the cheapest should be 10-12 dollars.

Plan your days well so you can include many destinations in on ride and save money. The tuk tuk drivers usually have a map with destinations and most probably will suggest you several routes which make a lot of sense. Just tell them what you want to see, they tell you a plan, you accept, then they tell you a price and you bargain it lower. Simple and easy. In Siem Reap you can walk everywhere, it’s a short distance, and get a bike for a day to visit Angkor Wat, so if you want just forget about these tuk tuks.

The Dilemma 

I guess, the hardest thing will be the sudden jump from middle class to the riches. Once you arrive to Cambodia (or any other poor country) you will suddenly become rich but your mentality will stay the same old middle class. Suddenly you are facing all these poor people, who look at you with their greedy sparkling eyes  because for them you are nothing but a stack of dollars yet to be spent, on them. But in your own heart, you are nothing but a poor student who could barely afford this trip. It’s a confusing situation.

I am just a student, worked hard to get enough money for my trip and can’t really spend extra. It pisses me off when people cheat me, no matter how poor. I come from a country where cheating is considered bad or even illegal. Yet I know all these people are so poor, can barely earn enough for a meal and my responsibility is to share because I can. But then again, they are cheating me because they think I am rich. I am not rich but in their country I actually am. But if I always pay extra I will exceed my budget and have no money when I come back to my own country. How will I live? But anyway, it will still be a better situation than for people in this country. Fuck. Stupid roller coaster, there is no end to this and thinking like this will just turn me into a cynical asshole, which I actually am but anyway…

Morals will just make you vulnerable, that’s all.

Forget about them?

And what? Become a monkey?

“In my country I am not rich” that’s what I said to one tuk tuk driver. His answer was: “At least you can work and save for traveling while I just work to earn a decent living.” Don’t pretend to be innocent and play the wrong cards. They know all those million ways how to make you feel guilty and they are not afraid of using them against you. Don’t let yourself feel guilty. For what should you? Why would you pay extra? Probably because that will make you feel temporarily at ease, like you are a good person and shit. You are buying that good feeling for 3 dollars so you can go back home like a Messiah, waste water and electricity and throw away food you didn’t finish eating? Ha ha ha…. Double standards, throw those away and we are all nothing but monkeys.

I recently read in a blog something along “[…] but don’t bargain too much because…” Why not? As long as you pay like locals it should be okay? What’s the use of over paying? Letting these people live off scam (pisses me off)? Truthfully speaking, I did feel guilty until I read from this one book about Asian sex slaves “Tuk tuk drivers are the majority (of men) who use services of brothels in Cambodia” (Excluding all those pathetic disgusting sex tourists) Excuse me? I thought if I don’t pay that extra dollar people will die because they won’t have enough money to buy medicine or food. Turns out I saved a man from getting HIV.

My point is, you never know how that money will be spent. Of course, not all tuk tuk drivers buy sex (I presume) but still, what about alcohol, cigarettes, drugs etc? So feeling guilty is just… stupid? It’s inevitable but unnecessary. You can’t help it. But even if you pay extra, what will change? Absolutely nothing. Let’s not romanticize poverty. Are you imagining something about girls going to school, mother recovering from an illness or father bringing home meat or sweets, all this because you paid extra? The possibility of this happening is what, 10%? Get real, the girl gets sent off to a brothel, mother dies and there will be no meat. That’s it.  The sad truth of the world.



If you think I am being heartless check out this blog post or this one and think about tuk tuk drivers asking western men “How about a girl?” and then think about those human trafficked poor girls in brothels. Feeling any pity for the tuk tuk drivers anymore? When we arrived to Siem Reap in the middle of the night to a bus station which was located nowhere, there was this tuk tuk driver we tried to bargain with but he just got angry “We are not in Vietnam!” he exclaimed. Then we tried to bargain with another driver but this angry tuk tuk driver started yelling at him in khmer (most probably something about us being bitches) so I told him: “You are a bad man.” It felt like getting overboard then but afterwards when getting yelled at by the street vendors how we were bad people for not buying anything… I knew what I did was right. Anyway, we ended up taking motos, it felt less like a rip off since both got their own rides.

Finally, I KNOW it’s just a few dollars but this is not about the money it’s the matter of principle. Getting cheated all the time is not a nice feeling and when you are treated like garbage on the top of that. No matter how fucking poor anyone is you pay for service which is worth xx amount of money, paying extra just feels shitty. A little bargaining is always good and I am sure if you offer a fair price the tuk tuk drivers will accept. Too little is too little. Overall they are nice people, don’t pity them or give them too much but also don’t mistreat them by being angry if your offered price is not accepted.

Be a good tourist 

1. Don’t get your ride in front of hostels/hotels so your driver gets to keep the whole profit. Get a random ride at a random place.

2. If a driver comes to sell you his service accept it (if bargaining bears good fruits), reward hardworking.

3. Recommend online (forums etc check this out!) if you get good service, take the driver’s cell phone number and let other travelers know. This will give an extra boost to a driver who really deserves it by being honest (more or less) and a good businessman.

4. If a driver suggest you a cafe or restaurant agree to go if you don’t really care much where you eat. He will get a  few extra pennies for bringing you there.

5. Tip good service (after bargaining a good price) but only if it’s a good service.

6. Talk with drivers so they get to practice English, priceless.

It’s HATE both ways

Finally I  left Cambodia with “I fucking hate tuk tuk drivers” and I’m sure they sent me off with “I fucking hate that rich bitch”. Put yourself into their shoes. They are meeting all these fat ugly people every day for the past, what, 10 years. These foreigners have their wallets full of dollars yet they refuse to pay 1 dollar extra? If I was a tuk tuk driver I would detest all white trash, no matter if a man or a woman, drunk or sober, pretty or ugly, fat or skinny, I would hate everyone equally. Just because they have enough money to travel, they have enough money to dress and eat well, to stay in hotels but not fucking enough to pay 1 dollar extra. Those arrogant and stingy bitches, the double standard us. We think we are Messiahs. In truth we are bastards. All of us. Feeling guilty? How ridiculous.


 Drivers getting some water from the fountain, for the radiators, you know.

Cambodia: A Pitiful Scam Paradise?

So Cambodia, one of the poorest Asian countries, if not the poorest (at least in South East Asia). Probably sparring in top ten with Burma, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Nepal, Mongolia and the bloody North Korea. Here are some round facts fished out from various Internet sources:

Maternal mortality over 200 deaths per 100,000 live births

Infant mortality around 40 per 1000 births.

Life expectancy about 63 years.

Literacy rate less than 80%

Almost 50% don’t complete secondary education.

About 35% Cambodians live under the poverty lane.

Usual yearly income from 0 to 600 dollars.

Urban population just a bit over 20%

Access to safe drinking water under 40% of population.

Almost 60% of the labor is occupied with agriculture.

Less than 50% of the roads are paved.

I think that’s enough numbers to realize how poor a country we are talking about here. Can you imagine a yearly income less than 600 dollars? My view is that there are a few big cities where the tourist go and the rest of the land where no one goes, undeveloped, dirty, wild, ridden with diseases and poverty. To top it all there are still, God knows how many. land mines waiting for someone to step on them and blow a part of their body. The west. or America in general, could FOR ONCE be responsible and actually do one good deed, remove those deadly little traps they planted themselves.

It’s my fifth day in Cambodia and I am having mixed feelings about everything. I want to say I definitely hate this poor damned country but I can’t really. I know I will come back to explore the countryside, and only then I can say for sure if I like it here or not. Then again, to go somewhere where people suffer from malnutrition and live in poor dirty conditions, see starvation and disease, smell death and despair,  to walk around, take pictures and then write an arrogant blog post about my mixed feelings of pity, disgust and hate – would that be fun? I doubt.

So far it’s been good and bad, overall like a little Thailand (like Thai people write on forums; “They stole our temples”). The first impression wasn’t too flattering, rip off tuk tuk rides in the late night, cheating soldiers at the border, 2 years old children ‘power selling’ magnets, poverty everywhere, arrogant tourists, stench and dirt, petty fights with peddlers. They say Cambodia is cheap, bullshit. Just to enter and leave you need to pay up 50 dollars (the international airport tax is 25 dollars for foreigners). All the hostel rooms have air con but only if you pay extra you get the remote for it. Two dollars here, three there and five somewhere else, suddenly it’s 50 dollars per day. Compared to China, everywhere is expensive.

I understand this land is poor and that I am seen as a rich person in here but I am not really rich and have a mentality of a poor student, it’s impossible to, suddenly, step into the shoes of an indifferent millionaire and throw money around without bargaining. If I pay more the next tourist pays more, the one after pays more and then the locals pay more as well. Why should I pay more, anyway? Mainly it’s about 1 dollar, petty I know, but still… So many tuk tuk drivers hate me right now.

If I was a Cambodian, a poor one, I’d hate westerners. They come here, bargain for little indifferent (for them) sums, sustain the illegal sex industry, don’t respect local culture, are petty, rude and greedy, take pictures of  my pitiful life and as I am striving to earn an extra 0,25 dollars to get even some kind of dinner for my children they hang out at bar street, drunk and ignorant, eating and leaving food behind. And here am I, unable to send my kids to school. I want them to be educated but I have to send them to streets to beg and sell all kind of odds and sods just to barely come by.

But as a westerner I hate those “price for foreigner and price for Cambodian or only foreigners have to pay”, I hate being cheated out of my money even if it’s just 5 dollars, I hate petty peddlers who call me names just because I don’t want to buy anything, I hate the barbarian lifestyle, I hate it when they use me when I am helpless, I hate it when they think I am super rich when I have to book a cheaper room in a hostel and can’t afford the air con, I hate it when they approach me with a smile and flattering words just because they want something from me, I hate how due to hard life they become like animals, no, even worse, selling their kids to pimps and such. I totally hate all the scam going on around me. I was reading this blog post and lolling all the time, unable to disagree with many opinions.

And yet I pity all those tuk tuk drivers who have to lower themselves and beg for people to take their rides then be petty about some 0.50 dollars just because they desperately need it, I pity those 5 years old kids selling stuff by the roadside because they have no other opinion, I hate seeing young girls working instead of being sent to school, I hate seeing middle aged western men with local whores, I pity those who die from hunger and at the same time are forced to watch lavish lifestyles of foreigners, I pity them all just too much.  It’s all way too complex and in the end so many of us would prefer to just escape,  go home from all this shit and forget, just remember the good times and feelings. We forget, they die. But that’s just life and nothing can be changed overnight, nothing at all. Even if we cane save some, poverty will exist like it always did. The end.

Border crossing from Vietnam 

In the afternoon we took motos from my friend’s house. Her family helped us to arrange rides for a cheap price with reliable Vietnamese men. Though, we paid some extra because our luggage was heavy. First ride was until a ferry and from there we got another reliable Vietnamese men to take us to the border. They were so cute, wanted to take us trough the border all the way to Phnom Den but the officials wouldn’t allow them to cross, we didn’t think about tipping them but should have!

Everything went so well till the border. Small paved roads with palm threes and wooden houses on both sides with locals chilling on hammocks, drying grains at the road side and kids running around. A funeral, little shops, fresh fruits, water buffalos, more and more scooters everywhere. It was a hot day and my hand burned in the sun, but not much. I felt kind of sad leaving safety of my Vietnamese friends behind to enter one of the poorest South East Asian countries and my “suspect everything and everyone” switch turned on.

Actually, a few years ago people told me it was the best time to go to Cambodia because there weren’t many tourists yet and it was somewhat “unspoiled” land. Why did I believe them? Maybe two years ago everything was different?

I have to confess I knew nothing about Cambodia before entering. My view was somehow idyllic post card style: colorful and unspoiled, temples by small lakes with awesome reflections on the water during good weather. Sunsets splashing colors all over the sky, local farmers working on their green rice fields. Well, this was just an idea, and I wasn’t even surprised to see that the reality was a total opposite from a tropic paradise. I should have at least checked out the tuk tuk prices in advance. All I knew we had to get to Phnom Penh and take a bus to Siem Reap where we had booked a hostel. I skimmed trough Lonely Planet and that was all.

At the Vietnamese border they looked trough our passports and then told us to go and get stamps at the near by building. Meanwhile people were walking back and forth, throwing money trough the little window on the desk of the official and no passports were in sight.

After we walked some hundred meters to the place where we were supposed to get stamps there was no one, I joked about stealing something or stamping our passports ourselves but then a man in uniform appeared out of nowhere and took his sweet time going trough our passports as if it was something rare. We finally got our stamps and had to hand our passports for inspection once more before crossing to Cambodia’s side.

Oh man, goodbye reliable Vietnam and welcome… Cambodia. I thought I hated Vietnam but then this day finally came and I realized how much I actually like Vietnam now. I want to go back there, really.

On Cambodian side no one was wearing their uniforms, from one window we were guided to a building where we filled the visa forms and paid 25 dollars, meanwhile men in their casual clothes hung around and joked with each other. Didn’t seem like a border at all and I wonder if it was the first time they even saw passports. The real price for visa is 20 dollars but we weren’t sure if bargaining at the border was a good idea…

The man who handled our visas reeked of alcohol. When we asked about a bus to Phnom Penh they said there is no bus but “luckily” there was a moto driver hanging around, he promised to take us to Phnom Den for 3 dollars, and from there we were to take a taxi to Phnom Phen. After getting our visas we headed to the first place to get stamps and fill another form, then we went to quarantine office to fill the third form and pay up 1 dollar each. For what? Who knows? After asking around for bus everyone just said there is no bus, yeah right… Smelled like a big fat scam. (Later I checked it online and true, there are no direct buses to Phnom Phen from there and we didn’t have enough time to lose some nights. Anyway, this border crossing was categorized in ‘other crossings’ which means foreigners rarely even pass there, I couldn’t find even one single blog post about anyone crossing there).

After about 10 minutes drive we were in Phnom Den, the moto drivers stopped right next to black taxis and one of the drivers was already putting my bag in the trunk when I stopped him and asked about the price. He wanted 45 dollars and I declined right away. We started bargaining with men who hardly knew English and for soem reason they were yelling at each other in their own language.

When we finally managed to bargain the price to 35 dollars the man threw our bags in the trunk. I didn’t realize that one of the men was offering 30 dollars and when I was about to get in the car he exclaimed “NO! 30 dollars!” So I went out and started demanding for them to open the trunk to change the car, but do you think they opened it? Not in the million years, they just joked: “We have your bags now and the trunk is locked, ha ha”. Protesting was no help at all and I felt so cheated, those scammers. I think the business is pretty bad so the men do their everything to get customers. They literally wouldn’t allow us to leave anywhere from the spot. Also the competition between the drivers was fierce, they were yelling at each other like crazy.

In the end, finally giving up, we got in the car and noticed there was a woman sitting on the front seat. It’s a pity we didn’t notice her earlier, could have used her as a tool in our bargaining session. Anyway, the taxi driver didn’t get in so I opened the door and yelled at him to go. After a while he got in and started driving, suddenly made a turn to the left on some shady small unpaved road, stopped and took in another man who squeezed on the front seat with the woman. Why? I seriously don’t get it…

Then the moto drives from before came after us and started yelling at the driver, he got out from the car and started yelling back at them, after 5 minutes of arguing some money changed the owner and we FINALLY departed. I realized I wasn’t really surprised about anything, typical Asia. My friend joked we were in a car with a whore and a drug dealer on our way to be raped, killed and robbed. If I saw the scene from TV it could be even scary but there, that moment, I was just feeling annoyed “Let’s go already!” In fact, I felt like a CIA agent on the way to my mission in a shiny black car with leather seats, outside there were just palms, fields and once in a while dirty, poor neighborhood. My friend commented: “Except CIA agents don’t have bananas and dragon fruits in their bags.”

On the way we tried to ask how long does it take to Phnom Penh and would the driver take us to the bus station. After some gestures we got our answer, it would take us 3 hours to arrive but where, there was no answer. On the way we stopped at some busy road and our taxi driver sold something in black bag to a shady looking guy. Boy, what a start. I finally realized that there is no bus station where to buy tickets, the buses are all independent companies and you have to choose one to buy tickets from their offices. Probably there is like a big bus station or something but of course, no one wanted to let us off cheap or easy.

In Phnom Penh we arrived somewhere and there was a bunch of tuk tuk drivers welcoming us. They said it would be 3 dollars  to go to the bus station but we managed to bargain to 1 dollar per person. So 1 dollar discount. I scolded our taxi driver for not taking us to a bus station and refused to give 5 dollars trying to lower the price to 30, but it failed… so sad.

We ended up at the bar street, bought the bus tickets and went off to get some dinner. On the way we stopped at an ATM to withdraw money, it said dollars on the screen but for some reason I thought I would get riels and started wondering how much would be 100 dollars, ended up withdrawing hundred dollars and got dollars… I see, only dollars from ATM and I lose. Can’t be helped. We stopped at a small grocery store which mainly sold alcohol, lotions and condoms, to buy a sim card. I can’t be too sure but there were whores all around.


In the end we managed to exchange some dollars for riels just because it was easier to bargain. 1 dollar is about 4000 riel but coke from street vendor cost either 2000 riels or 1 dollar so we figured out we must have local money. Cambodians use 1 dollar and up but not down and if you want to bargain a cheap tuk tuk, the cheapest we got was 6000 riels for two. The driver had a sexy back.

It was a very unsteady 5 hours bus trip from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. At some point there was no paved road and dust was everywhere, it was hard to breathe so I wore my Asian dust mask for the most of the way. The bus was an old shit but the driver was driving as fast as he wanted, didn’t really bother me just that the seats were very uncomfortable and they sold us 8 dollar quality for 10! At some point I went to the back of the bus and lied on two seats, stretching my legs across the walkway on the opposite seats. That way I could catch some sleep before we arrived in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night.


I wanted to take a picture in the bus but something went wrong and it looks like we are on our way to hell, haha.

Again, tuk tuk and moto drivers attacked us and we started bargaining for a ride but he wanted 6 dollars first, the last price was 4 dollars, 2 each. When I said 1 dollar he exclaimed: “This is not Vietnam!” Pointless, so we waked to another tuk tuk but the man with whom we had bargained just now followed us and started yelling at this other tuk tuk driver. I told him he was a bad man for intimidating the other driver, it might sound like going overboard but Cambodian peddlers told us we were bad too, for not buying anything. It was a war all again. I randomly asked the guy in the tuk tuk how much he was paying and he said 3 dollars “Which is probably a total rip off” I just mumbled a tired “yeah…” and turned around to bargain with the moto drivers. Like in Vietnam, I finally accepted there must be a special night price so we ended up paying 2 dollars each. But it felt less like a rip off because we both got our own moto.

The ride was about 5 minutes or a bit more and we finally got to our hotel/hostel. The receptionist urged us to change for an air con room without telling the price, after asking a few times he said air con room is 7 dollars, but the room with fan was 3. Screw the air con, that’s what we thought. The first night was kind of chilly but the two other nights were too hot without the air con. However, we survived to another even hotter room with a fan, in Phnom Penh, an now at 2 am I finally finished writing this post.


More about Cambodia coming soon. 

Two Sides of China

Ciqikou

This is a tourist trap with a golden heart. From outside it looks like some place where all the couples, foreign businessmen, teens and rich Chinese travelers gather to buy overpriced shit and taste all kind of unhealthy street food, which eventually kills you.  The wooden houses are build in old style but look brand new, there are poorly maintained temples and a few museums along the way (my heart cries blood), beggars and a huge noisy crowd just everywhere around you.

I always bargain but I had arrived to China the same morning and it still felt weird to be abroad. I felt like I was walking down the streets and that it wasn’t “Finnish” at all but somehow my mind was still back home. So it was a bit of a confusing day (or night in Finland), the worst times to buy souvenirs. But it was dirt cheap anyway, the most expensive thing I bought was a pink panda hat (for my god daughter not me! And why do I keep buying panda stuff for her anyway? She never said anything about liking pandas) and it cost 28 yuan. Hats cost between 20 and 30 yuan everywhere in  China anyway.

Nothing ever starts well for me. The hostel staff told me to take bus 503, I missed the first like by 2 seconds, decided to walk to the next stop and missed the second bus as well… stylish. On the way I stopped to buy a bottle of water from this angry old grandma, she got some kind of anger attack when I misheard the price. Then in the bus some perverted man sat next to me, again someone’s elbow was jammed into my side (maybe just a Chinese custom?) and it felt like he was leaning into me. I’m not overreacting, his hand was dangerously close to my thigh and I kept glancing at it in disgust, pressing myself against the window. But he was just leaning into my side…  I was prepared to yell “pervert” if he came any closer, haha.

Then I thought my stop was announced so I got up after the man, he was getting off too. Just perfect. I glanced at him as I stood up and he was looking at me and smiling. Dear god, I was like wearing the ugliest jacket and the oldest the most worn out sweats (My usual bum traveler style. When someone tries to sell me anything I can say “Do I look rich to you?” and it’s easier to fade into peasant crowd) to avoid this! Luckily I saw that it was the wrong stop and didn’t get off, meanwhile he was standing outside the bus and looking at me, as if expecting me to follow him?! What the? In your dreams, even if your face is okay… Weird disgusting idiot.

I sat next to this dirty looking average Chinese man, a worker. Description: middle aged, dark slacks, black shoes, smokes cheap cigarettes, black jacket, dark (tan or dirt) face, short slightly overgrown buzz cut and some stubble of beard or ugly mustache. Ps. They are sometimes even good looking! =O These are the safest type. You might think I am crazy, which I am but… In China these workers are usually the most fun people, they like to joke around, small talk and are just genuinely interested. No matter how many of these I meet they are never perverted, ever. But they will surely make fun of you (in a good way though).

Though there are all kind of shady people and when someone seems shady he/she usually is. Anyway, middle aged Chinese peasants/lower class are the best. They are nice too. At least if you can speak Chinese. Try to chat them up next time you go to China and you will be pleasantly surprised.

Okay, so I went to this Ci Qi Kou, old town center.  At first it was just one little snack: classic fried potatoes with some spices (this time I was smart enough to ask them leave coriander out of it). Then I was suddenly holding some local drink and caramel dipped strawberries, half of the drink was soon spilled on my jacket. Then I stopped to sample Sichuan peppers and… my mouth died for 15 minutes. I had to sit down on abandoned stairs to finish up my caramel dipped strawberries, there was caramel everywhere! And after that I drank milk tea, ate chocolates too but the peppers were still burning. And you know, it really pays up to save all kind of shit from airplane, this is when I took out the wet wipe I had saved from the breakfast! The caramel was gone!

Then I saw this Indian guy selling filled roti bread, I choose one with banana. Once he saw me he started selling like crazy and I decided I must taste it but  my embarrassing comment: “I will go to bathroom first, then I will come to back.” You should have seen his face. Anyway, I bought one, the portion was big and it tasted like crispy extra thin roti fried in lots of oil, with banana filling. Nothings special. But why was there an Indian man selling roti in a Chinese tourist village? Remains mystery. Typical China…


People were lining up for this weird hard cookie or bread thing, I sampled some but it didn’t taste like anything special. There were at least 5 shops but people bought only from two the most popular ones. And the whole area smelled like shit, literally. How did they cook those.. things and what were they? My interest died pretty quick and I faded from there, turned a random alley and accidentally, without any plan, ended up in the golden heart.

What I love about China the most is the randomness. In Beijing go walk along this busy extremely touristy street with only expensive shops that sell over prised goods to fools. Then you turn a few corners and end up on a buzzing alley with locals going about their own business, dining in local restaurants and  selling even better goods with local prices. weird toilets without doors… dog shit… that awful smell… In China, that random, unplanned turn could be your biggest adventure. (No matter how smelly)

Where I ended up there was no buzz, no tourists, no street vendors. A few (extremely small) grocery stores and an old man selling tobacco. But there was local life, just another day. Mothers and grandmothers hanging in groups, gossiping while taking care of babies. There were babies everywhere. EVERYWHERE! Mother cooking, elders playing mahjong and cards, betting on money. Pets running everywhere, laundry hanging above your head drying. I walked past people’s empty living rooms, it’s not like back home where we have these warm and cozy apartments. They have these boxes made of concrete, little tables and stools as if for kids only, an old TV, orange peels on the window sill’s, egg peels in the flower pots, kids coming back from school, racing each other, yelling.

I stopped at one building to watch some elders playing mahjong. They gave me a chair and started asking me questions. Turns out my Chinese is still okay even though a bit rusty, I could keep up some small talk, even understood their mandarin with tick accent. Perfect language practice.

Curious looks, fast paced mahjong game, mechanic almost. No one knows where Finland is located, I take out my decades old Nokia cellphone and tell them it’s from Finland. This time “Noqia” doesn’t ring a bell, usually it does. I offer them Fazer chocolate candies (the biggest chocolate producer in Finland), the old man throws the wrapper on the ground even though he is at a place where he and his friends hang out.  No one cares if there is trash. Dirty rooms, lonely dog whining and barking after I pass by, two cats staring at me from the balcony…

Then finally, a moment of silence and old woman sitting quietly on a bamboo chair at a doorway, a grandma picking up dry shoes from the low rooftop with a long stick, a mother carrying her baby in a bamboo basket on her back.  She seems to be in a good mood, smiles, urges her little kid to say “Hello!” I wave at him and say “Hello, hello, hello!” but he only wants my camera. The mother laughs at it and walks away. Other people mention: “Waiguoren. A foreigner”, as I pass by, whispering behind me, a kid exclaims the word mindlessly, as if it has become a habit he is not aware of anymore. I know it’s nothing bad, they are just curious, interested. They think I can’t speak Chinese, that I don’t understand. But I do, partly.

These tranquil golden moments. Even though it stinks, I still love China after all. Stares, I don’t even notice them anymore. I feel good, at ease, happy. I visit public toilet and don’t care even if I have to squat, it feels less troublesome in a country where toilets are never clean, anyway. I am even prepared with toilet paper, I know it’s something I must carry around.

While roaming the shopping street I decided I’d buy all souvenirs at once and send them to Finland in a package, saw the China Post everywhere anyway. So, I almost got everything in one day. As it got later and darker and kids were back from school I saw some of them doing their homework at the back of the shops, one mother was scolding her daughter for making a mistake.

In the end I walked to a bus stop, had to wait for the bust for ages (20 minutes) but it eventually came, thanks god. I was so tired I dozed off whole way. The conductor shook me awake on my stop, drowsy, slightly cold, and totally out of energy I somehow made it back to the hostel. As I went to remind the staff that my friend was coming late and that the door needed to be open for her, the staff started asking me what did I buy and in a old good Russian spirit I started showing off my haul. They were impressed I bought all that stuff alone, I don’t understand what’s impressive about that but anyway, Chinese never do anything alone.

It was a good day. I have missed China. It’s so human, everything, so incredibly human, raw, sincere and at the same time… a total scam.

Plans for the next days:

14th Dazu Buddhist Caves, hot pot, cable car and the night view of the city

15th go to Songji village, roam around, chill in tea houses, buy the rest of the souvenirs, take it easy, find a hotel to stay at.

16th back to Chongqing, check out the local market, maybe a museum…

17th morning Nanning and Hanoi!

Winter Vacation Trip 2012: How it all Begun

I am even a little bit disappointed that everything went so well today. But then again, that saved some of my nerves for future. Of course, now that I decided to share my trip with everyone everything will always go as planned and nothing funny will ever happen, just my luck. Speaking about fun…

I just found a big bug on my bed, crawling on the worn out bed sheets with holes in them. My intention was to kill it but once it fell on the floor it disappeared before I could step on it. So, this thought is bugging me: It is still in the room and it can fly. Maybe during the darkest hours of the night it will crawl on my bed again and in my mouth?! Nooooo. Besides the diary lock on the locker with crappy systems will never protect anything, it would be so easy to rip the lock thing off with bare hands… So I thought why not keep my laptop in my bag, it’s too obvious a place so no one will ever look in there? What a theory, I’m rolling my eyes now. Yes, at myself. And Chinese who sit near by and talk in English with each other just because I am sitting here. Should I pretend I am impressed or start talking in Chinese by myself? How did we get to this topic starting with some bug? It’s after my money, I’m telling you.

Truthfully speaking I am a bit paranoid because nothing has ever been stolen from me during my trips and I know that one day, for sure, it’s gonna happen and it’s not gonna be a small loss. I just have this bad feeling, one of these days… And fuck if it’s some bug, maybe it’s after the Sichuan peppers and Chilis I just bought!

The flight

At first I thought the plane was going to be pretty empty but it was full after all. While boarding there seemed to be so few people… and why in the world would anyone want to go to Chongqing at this time of the year? Except Chinese. Why go anywhere depending on nothing.

When I saw my aisle seat I wondered what happened to that window seat I had booked, or thought I booked. There was a fat Chinese woman sitting next to me and she was occupying the hand rest, her elbow jammed into my side, once in a while she’d put on some really smelly hand cream and she knew nothing about traveling in planes, a younger girl next to her had to explain everything. The best part was when the woman started pressing all the buttons she could find and my seat went down all of a sudden and it went down kind of fast. I was in the middle of watching Simpsons, for God’s sake. Anyway, no one snored so I wasn’t angry.

When the tax free started all Chinese flocked to the cart and spent one hour choosing some goods to buy. I bought candies and wondered for the longest time should I obtain some Jägermeister for thought situations but decided against it, there is always old good baijiu or dragon juice, as some people know it. And I watched Madagascar 3, 2 times because it is a freaking good animation. I never liked the first one but the third… masterpiece! I recommend warmly! After Madagascar 3 other animations seemed so bland. Yes, I know I am 25 years old but there were no movies of my interest so…

As people have told me, the food was awful (Finnair seriously… Must you be so damn Finnish about everything?!) but I drank many diet colas. Then I remembered why I never drink any carbonated drinks in plane, heartburn… The last hours were a bit painful and the air in the plane was getting from bad to worse, not to mention that the whole trip had been pretty shaky so I left the plane feeling pretty nauseous. I thought maybe there would be good air conditioning at the airport but… not a chance. The familiar Chinese smell welcomed me, I am not sure if it’s more old shit, rotten waste or vomit. Seriously, it’s not the fault of the Chinese, it’s the cigarettes. I don’t know how they make their cigarettes but I am sure it certainly is not tobacco!

I knew there would be a light rail but there were not enough signs so I just darted to a random direction, very smart once again… I asked one guard and he pointed me to a wrong direction, thanks man. Then I asked someone else and he told me to go to an exactly opposite direction… After 20 minutes of sweaty walking with all the bags I finally found the subway and actually saw there this one Finnish guy who had been on the same flight, sitting pretty near me. He asked if I was going to the same hostel as him but we went our different paths, him green and me red (lines). And anyway, when I asked where he was going he seemed very confused so I am not sure if he got anywhere.

The hostel

For once there was no trouble finding my hostel and I was there around 12pm but they let me check in only at 2. Well, that two hours just disappeared somewhere. Frankly speaking, there is something I hate about Chinese a lot. Where is professionalism? Okay, taxi and truck drivers are superb but why in each and every hostel the staff sucks? Actually, they are really nice and all but on the website they promise airport pick up and I was counting on it. My friend arrives at 12 am and she was hoping they could pick her up. Then, they just laugh and say it’s too late so they don’t wanna drive… (someone earns too well?!) There is a foreigner coming to China, who cannot really speak Chinese, in the middle of the night, is staying at the hostel, might write a negative review… And I am sure they know someone who would be more than happy to do this gig for some money, they just didn’t bother… Chinese grrr.

And there was this trouble of contacting my friend. She had given me her phone number on fb but I never wrote it down because I assumed, which I should never do in China ( I so should have known!), they would pick her up from the airport. Luckily my Samsung opened the fb chat, I got the number and called her on Skype with the worst connection ever. Right, I had forgotten how slow Internet was in China.

I booked our train tickets from Chongqing to Nanning on 17th and after 22 hours of hard sleeper, which is just perfect, we will arrive to our destination in the morning. The plan is to buy tickets to Hanoi right away and if there is some time left do some minor sight seeing. I would have take the night train but only one train per day available and it departs at 8am. Why?! Shoulda booked the sleeper bus, it would have been more interesting. Well, there is always the next time to die.

The feeling

There have been better times, just saying. Earlier I talked to some guys and I bet they thought I was super weird (well I am but…), once in a while I would make strange pauses in the middle of a sentence or word and stare into the space like a retard. I slept in the plane maybe for 5 restless hours, spent 2 hours organizing things at the hostel and then went sightseeing until 8pm. I feel like I am kind of drunk… See, no Jägermeister needed! Now there are still some mails I need to reply to, go trough today’s photos (not really that important though), pay a few bills, write down the day’s spendings (just for fun actually) and information of all the flights. I am unable to make any plans before I have it all written down, because of one traumatic experience at Narita airport some good four years ago I am always stressing about airports and flying. But I will tell more about that later.

And by the way, because I haven’t slept enough lately and because I ate all kind of shit at the shopping street today (Why did I do it?), my stomach is… in pretty bad condition. Let’s just say, there are times you need to pee all the time and there are the times you need to shi… the worst times. My tummy is grumbling weirdly, as if something is alive there… My nose is running non stop, my neck is killing me and I have a head ache. I should go to bed but I also kind of want to wait for my friend to discuss tomorrow’s plans. Oh God, I just finished 6 chocolate candies without even realizing anything. It just happened. Anyway, I was planning to wake up rather early tomorrow, not the best idea… But we will see. Fuck, I am just gonna be paranoid about that bug forever. It was so freaking big and why my bed of all four?! Why mine?! It can smell a loser or something?!

The plan

18th afternoon/evening arrival to Hanoi.

19th in the  morning go to a mountain to see monkeys and later meet some people who are interested in Finnish education system to answer their questions.

20th Hai Long bay if a day trip is available. If no then fuck…

21st fly to Ho Chi Min City at noon then take a bus to some village in the middle of nowhere.

22nd Wedding.
23rd or 24th sightseeing around the village and cross border to Cambodia.

Something something

29th flight to Kuala Lumpur.

something something

2nd flight to Shenzhen.

3rd be in Guangzhou to meet some friends.

4th go to Guilling and see rice terraces? Anyhow, plans still open

Something something.

11th get my ass back to Chongqing any way possible.

12th fly back home.

That’s pretty tight action filled plan, I hope it’s going to be a success, I mean  in a wicked failed way.

But the most important next: sightseeing in Chongqing. The city of… million villages put together and peasants?! What a first impression.