Saturday, 16 October 2010


Here are a few observations about Russia and the Russians. I’m not sure I’ve mentioned them before, but if I have my apologies. The Russians like to pose for photos and this isn’t just the normal European style I’ll stand in front of the camera and smile or grin a stupid grin at you. It seems they put a lot of thought into these poses and have to take quite a lot of pictures for the perfect one. They also seem to take them in front of the most boring of statues. On Olkhon Island I had to take a picture of a Russian lady and it took a while before she’d positioned her hair in the right place and was pleased with the picture.

Russians also have got a thing about throwing their coins away. In a country where there is still a lot of poverty you’d think they’d hang on to them. All over the place they were throwing them about, into fountains, on to piles of rocks, into the rivers in St. Petersburg, into Lake Baikal as we crossed back from Olkhon and in Moscow just onto the floor outside the Red Square. Here though an opportunistic family was just standing there and picking them up for themselves as others threw them down. And really why not?

Everywhere we went people were getting married, in St. Petersburg, Moscow and Irkutsk. The divorce rate is apparently also very high in Russia. Couples in Russia have a habit of attaching locks to railings of bridges or next to rivers as a sign of their love. People buy the locks from stalls which are conveniently located next to the railings, etch their names into them, attach them and then I presume throw away the key. We first came across these in St. Petersburg and saw them again in Irkutsk, where wedding parties gathered to carry out the ritual. In Moscow they’d gone a bit more upmarket and put some metal trees along the waterfront, which had been covered in locks and looked rather pretty.

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