Kiev and Moscow
Trip Start Jul 20, 2007
43Trip End Ongoing
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In both Kiev and Moscow the state seems to have retained a certain control over society but in a completely different way. In Kiev state controlled services are ludicrously cheap. A journey anywhere by bus or underground costs just 5p, a pack of paracetamol 4p, entrance to a museum 40p. People are ridiculously laid back and live a life of freedom that the state makes as comfortable as possible. To add to peoples spirits alcoholism is not just desirable it is a financial necessity. Everyone walks around the a beer in the hand, unsurprising when the average cost of a pint is 30p yet a coffee in a cafe costs 2pound plus and at a street kiosk beer costs half the price of a bottle of water. While enjoying a frothy pint I achieved one of my lifetime goals, to eat a chicken Kiev in Kiev After experiencing a frankfurter in Frankfurt I made a list of foods i had to experience and the Kiev didn't disappoint (i still have to tick off a crispy beef Schezian style, a chicken Madras, and some sprouts from Brussels).
In Moscow there is a ridiculously large police and military presence that makes you shit scared of going outside. Passports and immigration cards must be carried at all times and they have the right to stop anyone at anytime. If you stray of the pavement or zebra crossings they start blowing their whistle and shouting, giving you a death stare until you return to the confined area. A city that appears uncomfortably on edge due to the unnecessary surveillance. We went to McDonald's to use the toilet and had to go through a metal detector!
In Ukraine the people were really friendly and welcoming but this death stare is infectious in Moscow and the whole population seem to have adopted it. We thought they were ignorant and rude, then we read the recent comments of the liberal democratic party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky printed in the Moscow times and think that most of them are just complete twats. "All of you are criminals and bandits, your whole government, together with your queen, you in Britain are good for nothing, you only plundered Europe. Britain will disappear under the water one day and it will serve you right, even your sheep die every day and every hour due to your sickening British policies."
Luckily our hostel has been like a waiting room for the trans-siberian train. As well as about 8 people preparing for a 5 day journey there is a Nigerian footballer recently signed for Lokomotive Moscow, a German who should be starting a Aberdeen university today but missed his flight, and an English student finishing a phD about some obscure Russian painter. Because it costs over 4pound a pint to go out drinking the hostel reception has turned into a mini backpacker hangout where last night we drank our way through the litre of raki Serbian John had provided. In summary the Ukraine was amazing and Moscow was shit. Both nice cities with plenty to see but if i wanted to have my every movement watched i would have applied for big brother. See you later, were off to kidnap a yak.