Kamis, 01 Desember 2016

Trekking To Seydozero, Murmansk (part 1)

midnight in Murmanks, sun still loved shining

I had been in city of Murmansk for 3 days 2 nights, but I wasn’t ready enough to leave the artic city. I still wanted to enjoy the polar day, a phenomenon happens only in the northernmost and southernmost area of the earth where the Sun forgets to set. The idea was to visit Lovozero, a small town in the Kola Peninsula where is famous for its Sami culture and some impressive lakes.. After some research, I found the budget way to reach there from Murmansk, by bus. I ventured to the Murmansk Train Station, which acts also as the bus terminal, to catch minibus to Lovozero. The information I obtained didn’t tell me the schedule of the bus, so I had to figure it out myself.

The place that I stayed was a little bit far from the train station, about 50 minutes away by trolley bus or minibus (Murmansk isn’t BIG, but it is very long city). I left at around 11 am to aim reaching there at midday. The bus was excellent and cheap, about 20 RUB. To reach train station was easy because the train station is located in the heart of the city and most of the buses will pass through, so catching the right bus wasn’t a problem at all.

daytime at Arctic circle during the day
As expected, I arrived before the midday, and started wandering around to find the bus stall. After asking several people, with my broken Russian when it was enough to ask basic questions but wasn’t enough to receive the overwhelming answer, I finally found my bus to Lovozero. It was actually a minibus. It was written “REVDA LOVOZERO “with cellular number. And it was the only bus with lovozero sign. The doors were perfectly closed; it seemed that the bus would not be leaving anytime soon. I asked around about they told me the bus would leave at 3 pm. I had to wait about 3 hours and I was anxious about the schedule, I reluctantly called the number and surprisingly a lady picked up the phone. 

(The actual conversation was conducted in Russian)
“Hello! I want to ask you about the departure time for lovozero-bound bus?”
sacbwugciwvcye 3pm bcuvcuw uwvcu” (she spoke very fast Russian, I didn’t get anything, just something at 3 pm)
“Excuse me, I do not speak Russian, can you text me instead about the time?”
Then the call dropped.

In few seconds after the call I got a confirmation schedule and no reservation needed for the minibus.

Since I got 3 hours of waiting, somebody told me that to go to Seydozero (another lake) was much more worth it. I, moreover, had a set of a tent to camp. I listened to him with great intention. I began researching the place and it was beautiful and I only needed to go to Revda and continue by trekking. That’s brilliant idea as I really wanted to do trekking. 

Murmansk Train Station
In order to realize the new plan, I armed myself with some foods as I was food hands-free. I went to the nearest supermarket to get some waters, fruits, snacks, and biscuits. I was thinking to cook something, so I decided to buy matches, beers (that the can I can use to cook or heat), and a canned tuna. All was set. Then I entered the McDonald’s store to get BigMac for arming myself with fast food in case I felt hunger and need a quick food.

I returned to the bus stall at 2.30 pm and get my seat confirmed. It cost me 220 RUB (June 2015). I took the front seat together with the driver. The bus was full because only 2 buses per day to Revda at weekdays, at 8am and 3 pm. The journey took about 2 hours. The road was so empty, no traffic jams at all. The long road with wetlands, rivers, and lakes were the unmissed views for me. It was the real serenity for me. I imagined how people travelled during the winter days here. I, however, felt asleep because I was a sit-sleep person. 

Then I arrived in Revda and the minibus continued to Lovozero. I checked the maps (yes the internet was still working in Revda) to get the right direction to the lake. But the maps couldn’t work that time because the internet was too slow to work. I was in trouble as seems there was nobody at the street. It was 5 pm, but the sun still shined brightly as if it was 1 pm, that one the one pro for me as I didn’t to worry about the dark. I followed my intuition to walk to one direction, and then I met an old guy.

“is this the correct direction to Seydozero?” I asked
“yes! Just go straight, do not turn! You will reach the registration office.” He replied

After the thanks to him, I felt so relieved. It seemed nobody walked there, as I heard there was an iron mining factory up there. I assumed because it wasn’t weekend so there was no trekkers going or if they did so, they should have done it earlier, not at 5 pm like me. Based the information, I needed to walk 8 km to reach the registration office before I started the real trekking. 

Revda-Iron Factory road
The 8-kilometers walking was easy because it was plain and the weather was cool enough. The sweat was almost unheard during my walk. There was no car passing the same direction as I did. I just met some mining workers who just returned to Revda from the factory. They looked at me suspiciously, maybe. I was walking alone with big backpack. A dark Asian man walking to this road probably wasn’t normal in this area, and I knew that. I kept going. After about 1 hour, I saw the factory few meters away and it was one of the happiest moments that time. I stopped for a while to get my throat wet with my mineral water. Then a bus, apparently the bus from Revda to the factory, just passed me with some passengers. I was angry to myself why I didn’t take bus instead of 1 hour walking so I could save up the energy for another 12-kilometer trekking to reach the lake. I walked aimlessly to reach the registration office.

Halfway, when i wasn't tired enough
I had to call the officer to get myself registered. As always, he talked to me in Russian (well, I am I Russia anyway) and I hardly responded him. I just wrote my details with the duration to stay there, I just wrote 2 days (as I planned to return the next day). There was no money involved in my registration. The pro thing was the sun still forgot to set even though it was almost 6.30 pm. Then the real trek happened.

gloomy sky when I arrived the factory
Tips to reach Revda from Murmansk (June 2015):

Walk or take any bus to Train Station  20RUB
Take a minibus to Revda (220 RUB)
Take A bus (10 minutes drives) to factory if you do not want to walk 20 RUB
Entrance free 0 RUB

To be continued

Sabtu, 07 Mei 2016

Day 3-11 Russia Trip Summer (2015)

Ufa, the exorbitant city, was marvelous. I stayed for 7 days and I summed up into one post to save up the time taken to story-tell. Well, the whole journey in the city would elate me in another level of traveling. Here the major experiences:

Russian Day and City of Ufa
Russian day, because We love our Country
It was june 12th, for Russian it was the Russian Day, yes the name was pretty obvious A RUSSIAN DAY, Day for all Russian. What did they celebrate for? The day was to commemorate the sovereignty of Russia from Soviet Union. As all I know, Russia celebrated so many national days. They have victory day, Russian flag day, Russian day, etc, Whereas in Indonesia we only celebrate Independent day for national day as holiday. it is comparable with Nepal or India where they have so many celebrations every day, the difference is Russia celebrate it as National day, where in India and Nepal they do for mainly religious purposes.
The bashkirs
The celebration was held together with Ufa day, yes every city in Russia has the city day, and it could be holiday in every city. They love so much for their country and city. There were many stalls selling Bashkir souvenirs, foods (yes, The amazing shashliks were ubiquitous), art performances, concert, and the main celebration was the fireworks.
The party ended at 1 am when the fireworks were adjourned to play. When it ended, the main area was chaotic as everybody started leaving the place to home. Taxis were all booked, and what I and my friends did was to stay in nearest McDonald until 2.30am to get home immediately afterwards. That was likely bad idea as many people had the same idea, the order time took us about 45 minutes to get our foods. Thanks to Friendly Russians there, my Russian day was super, I was so elated.

My first night in Russia
Vodkas And Vodkas
Yes, I made same friends in Ufa. They were as nice as other Russians. Vadik and Lena, the young newly weed couple invited me to have a dinner to their apartment.  Vadik is a Russian man, and Lena is a tatar woman. They were learning English for their fun, they might travel to somewhere so they armed themselves with sufficient English to cope while traveling. The idea of the dinner was Indonesian food party, and I was in charge for all the dishes. I and my friend, shamil, a Bashkir boy who spook excellent English as he was graduated from English department and worked as English teacher, accompanied me to get the amenities for my dishes. I decided to cook Indonesian fried rice and Sambal Ati (Spicy chicken liver with tick indoensianized gravy). Fortunately, I found most of the ingredients for these big meals.
In the Vadik’s apartment, I prepared for the meals with the sophisticated kitchen utensils for me. Also the kitchen was amazing. For about one hour, I finished all the cooking and we were ready to eat. There was also Maxim, a young 20 years-old boy who wanted to study English but the laziest amongst others. 

Vodkas are integral part of life

Everybody was happy. For Maxim, that was the first time he could eat rice as he had not liked rice for ages. And for others, chicken liver was a something new, not common for Russian. The conversation was helped over the countless of vodkas, yes vodka is the integral part of their life, well, not exactly just mostly. Vadik once told me that Vodka was essential to keep the conversation flow, and to not get drunk, we had to keep eating the pirogis (Russian cake) and some foods to keep brain alive. Well, that worked best for me too, a bit just a small tipsy for 8 bottles of Vodkas for 4 people.

View over the green lush forest outside the city

River bank Beach

Friendly Monument, for Bashkirs and Russians

Post-Apocalypse of the Party

City Sightseeing
Bashkir State University
Kvas, slurppppp....!
One of Park in Ufa
Gigantic Bee
Needless to say, The city enticed me with its electrifying ambience. The city sits over the mighty Ural mountain giving it the pleasant temperature. However, Ufa is an industrialized city, so expect for the fumes emitting from the factories and mining industry. The city was well-developed ad it hosted more than one million people, a big city for vast Russian land. The most bizarre that I saw was the conversation of river banks to beach-like sunbathing area with umbrellas and mistletoes. The obsession over beaches was the same all over Russian. Summer time was always the most-awaited time. Ufa was amazing and magically whimsical, I don’t mind to go back again.
Happy Ufa Day
Sunny summer day, a perfect outing for Russian Day
City of Ufa perching by the bay of Belaya River (the white river)

From the picturesque of the Hilton-Inn Hotel view closed to Hall for BRICS 2015 Conference to dozen of parks to stroll to. Some shopping center for the shopping sprees and Amazing foods are ready to serve the visitors. Likewise in other parts of Russia, Sashhlik is the favourite with Kvas, and Kymyz, known as horse milk fermentation. Bee is the symbol of the republic as so many bees farming and Republic of Bashortostan is known for high quality honey. For Transportation, sadly There was not any Subway train, and it may not happen in near future due to its contour, but the transportation system was good with buses, Mashrustkas, Gazelles, and Trolleybus, choose what you like!

Minggu, 01 Mei 2016

Russia Trip day 2+3 (2015)

Day 2 night

When I arrived, nobody was there or at least at the desk. I just didn’t care about it and I just dropped myself onto the bed. However, I heard some sounds of female speaking and that was from the kitchen. I was curious, and got up to get myself to go to kitchen, and yes Volodya was there with a nice girl, a guest too. 

Zdravsvuyte vsyom! Hi guys!” I greeted them friendlily, yes I was always friendly.
Zdravsvuy! Ty govrish po russki! Eto kurto! Hi! You speak Russian, that’s cool!” Said the girl.
so we talked a lot with three peo
ple, in Russian and English. The girl was Nastya, 26 years old from Krasnodar who was traveling to Moscow to meet her friends and later he would go to Saint Petersburg. She was working in Dubai that time, as fashion designer, but she felt that she didn’t like that because it was too hot for him when the summer arrived. 

“Oh Suku, nice to see you! Will you go to Saint Petersburg too?” She asked me. Well, she kept calling my name as Suku instead of Suko, well at least better that Suka.
“Yeah I would like to, but tomorrow I will go To Ufa, in Bashkortostan, but after that I will go to Saint Petersburg, we can meet there!” I replied excitedly.
“Ah, good just tell me, if the time permits, we will meet again.”

The conversation lasted for about 3 hours. I cooked them Indonesian fried rice too, and they loved it so much, or they pretended to love it, but that was their first time to eat fried rice, Asian fried rice, not Plov, Central Asian fried rice.
Nastya surprisingly didn’t speak well in English even though she had been working in Dubai for 2 years. She told me that every day she was talking in Russian with little English. She had a dream to visist Asian countries, like Thailand and Bali. She loved so much for beach, like other Russian. Meanwhile, Volodya was also telling about himself. He had lived in saint Petersburg before he moved to Moscow. He was graduated from university majoring in IT, but he decided not to work because he needed freedom. His blue eyes rolled left and right when he was talking, he told me that he had to stay in frukt hostel because he didn’t want to stay every day in Garden hostel as he was an employee and he had no right to stay in, not like his colleague, Gregory. He was from affluent family .
Nastya once told me,
“Suku is Indonesian people always smile they talk? Not like Russian, I don’t like this.” He appraised me.
“Well, Mostly, nastya! Just come and see, you will be happy to see us!” I convinced her.

Then I signed out the conversation as I was so sleepy, to be ready to catch my flight to Ufa next day.

Day 3
I woke up late this time, as 08.00 in the morning and I had to be airport before 13.20 in SVO to catch my flight to Ufa. I still have time and I checked to the outside, still nothing lived up. I continued slaying at bed until 08.30 until I really needed to carry the defecation on. I finished all the bathroom-toilet businesses, and started packing my bag as I didn’t want to miss my flight. Then at about 09.15 Nastya went out from her Ladies room, with Volodya. I greeted them and I continued to go to Kitchen for preparing my breakfast. I finished everything. Then I met again Georgiy, the Armenian  Russian guy I met before.

“Hey, my Azeri Brother! Were are you? I was waiting for you.” I teased him.
“No azeri, I am Armenian. Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) is Armenia! Hahahaha” He replied with little anger and he knew I was joking.

He had to leave to his work again. I was still unsure who he was, and why he was staying there while Volodya was working more than him and Georgiy looked more friendly and talkative than Volodya, more suitable to be hostel receptionist.
I went out to supermarket to stock some foods for my trip to Ufa, with was really unnecessary I finishe everything at 12.00 and got all my bags packed and ready to leave. I bid a farewell to Volodya and Nastya.

“Suku, send me some pictures of Boshkortostan, I would like to see it.”
Konechno, of course! Hey, this is my whatsapp number! Keep on contact! Da Svidaniya! Bye bye!” I said good bye,
my broken lens camera, bye bye Garden hostel

Well, I kept in touch with her,not till now but she was really nice girl, or I was just too nice. Unfortunately, that was the last chance I met her and no picture or vkontakte account. But, I had her number (by the time I was writing this, I immediately messaged Natya, not reply yet).
Actually, there was nearer Metro Station, Krasnyie Vorota station. Actually, I was so worried about missing my flight. I had only 2 hours and 20 minutes from that time. I reached at the metro station to catch Aeroexpress to Sheremetyevo airport at 12.30. fortunately, I could catch the train at 12.30 and I arrived at the airport at 13.15 and proceeded myself to counter check-in. fortunately, I was still eligible to check in. really, I had no time to look or shop around. Time limit really killed.
I chose to fly with Aeroflot because I love it, even the price was higher that other airlines that time, I loved how skillful the pilots, yes Russian Pilots no wonder. I was just sleeping along the flight, nobody to talked to either. When the plane was about to arrive at 18.20, I saw massively sparse land with green lush beauty, Bashkortostas, the land of Bashkir (the native people). The view was so beautiful, with Ural towering the area made it more tremendously amazing.
Ufa international airport (UFA) was not big to easily get to know. The conveyor for baggage claim was so simple and no need to wait longer, I claimed my checked-in baggage. And as information I could to City by Bus. It was 18.20 and the sun seemed no to set anytime soon. I boarded to the right bus which would take me to the city for one hour, without traffic. Yes, the airport was terribly far from the city. Along the way to the city center, the video of green lush hills, big rivers, wide road, and blue sky were accompanying me during my bus trip which I was not pretty sure whether the bus would take me to the right place or not.

P.S For Ufa Trip (for about 8 days, I cannot write anything, I was just Amnesia about it. But trust me, the place was amazing, and I love it so much. People are as nice as before.

I will update for day 3 to 10 in one post about Ufa.