After a long haul flight (11 hours) and long layover in Ho Chi Minh City (SGN), I finally arrived in Domodedovo International Airport (DME) in Moscow at 15.00 local time. I was in Moscow's another airport before (in SVO, Sheremetyevo) and definitely DME was more crowded than SVO, and bigger. I, like usual, proceeded to immigration. It was unbelievably long queue (I assumed because it was summer holiday). It took me about 45 minutes to get myself to the officer, I handed my passport and the officer looked deeply and examined my passport. Suddenly, he asked another off-duty officer to check my passport, i was so afraid if anything happened, even I knew i followed all the regulations.
“Hey look at this passport! His name is SUKA” Said the in-duty officer
Another officer looked at me, he tried to laugh but he kept it. They all spoke in Russian, unfortunately I understood basic Russian. Suka in Russian means bitch, they laughed at my name. The officer still tried to laugh hard, he gave my passport back and I tried to show my Russian,
“Eta vsyo? Spasiba. A eta mayo imya, suko!”
It means “That’s all? Thank you. Anyway, that’s my name, Suko!” I walked confidently tried to not glaze at his face. After few steps forward I realized that I should have not done this, I was so scared that they would catch and abduct me because I was “rude” to the immigration officer. Then I just walked a bit faster to claim my luggage in conveyor, 50 minutes was enough to let my bags without having long wait to claim it.
I got my ticket for Aeroexpress to connect to city. I met another traveler, he was American, yeah we have seated next to each other, talked randomly then we parted in Paveletskaya Metro station without having name on each other, yes traveller with no string attached. I tried to figure out how to reach my booked hostel, it was in Ulitsa Staraya Basmannaya. After few researches I figured out how to reach there, by mighty METRO, yes almost all places in Moscow is reachable my Metro. The nearest station was Kurskaya Metro station, which was only two stations away from paveletskaya.
I got the ulitsa Staraya Basmannaya. I remembered the location was closed to the intersection. I expected that there would be a sign to tell the hostel, but hell no, no sign to help. I was confused how to read the address in Russia, I checked all the building, but I couldn’t find no. 13. The search lasted 45 minutes I got around and around, until there was an old man asked me to where I need to go, he approached me and spoke in Russian
“hey young man, Where do you want to go?” asked the old man
“Ulitsa Staraya Basmannaya 13, Frukt Hostel.” I promptly replied with showing the address to him.
He examined and said,”Oh I never heard that hostel name, but the street is right here,”
“Damn, where then I should stay for this cold summer.” I said that in myself tried to show a confident façade to him, I tried to not give up to find. He then found a clear and nice idea
“That’s the telephone number, let me call them.” He offered his kind for me. I was so helpless to say thanks to him. The conversation was good and he just took me to the right building and called the hotel receptionist to open the door, yes I was mingling in the wrong building. Thanks to old man helping me, I had no chance to ask his name, but I hope he is fine anywhere anytime he is.
HOSTEL FRUKT, or Хостел Фрукт or Hostel fruit in English, was located at 7th floor, fortunately there was an elevator to take me there. I arrived and were surprised that there were so many shoes, I assumed that there were so many tourists staying there, because it was cheap, only 275RUB/night in 10-beds mixed dormitory. I asked, in English, about my bed, nobody understood English, It was another surprised how could hostel with full occupancy not knowing English. I tried with my broken Russian, and he understood and took me to my bed. There was few people with Asian look, I thought they were somebody from China. Actually, the receptionist who could speak English was away.
The room was basic, bed with linen, and shared toilet and bathroom with kitchen. It had also locker to keep my “valuable” belongings. I was so hungry that time, I asked for the password for the front door, the immediately left to find foods.
I walked to the main street as I saw some restaurants near the Kurskaya metro on my way to hostel, I let myself go there for the foods. There were many restaurants there, as Indonesian, I ventured inside the shopping mall-like to find restaurant, yes there were many food selections. I needed rice that time and I was pretty sure no restaurant would serve rice in Russia (Yes, Most of Russians that I met hate Rice, while it was my heavenly delicious staple). I went to fried chicken restaurant. I seated myself and asked for menu. Examining the menu was very hard, the price was so hefty, I chose the wrong restaurant. I ordered one of the cheapest menu there, ordinary fried chicken with fries and coke. It cost me about 600RUB (Almost three time higher than my hostel). I ate them like I meant it, because it was very expensive for me, I spent more than my meal budget (If I had known that, I would have better cooked my Indomie in the hostel). I ate all and made sure I didn’t leave anything worth to eat. It was cold, about +7 C, yes I didn’t expect for that temperature for summer, well that was Russia anyway.
I roamed around checked some parks and tried to get used to the streets. I spent 1 hour in park nearby, it was not park just place to sit, Tsezarya KunikovaI. Enjoy the sunset at as late as 21.00. I decided to go back to hostel to sleep and ask for the OVIR immigration (well, in Russia we are required to register to OVIR/Immigration if we plan to stay 7 days in the country).
I Successfully opened the door, went straight to 7th floor, and another surprise hit me when entered the room, so many people there. I realized that they were not Chinese, they were from somewhere in Central Asia. I tried to smile to them and they were curious about it. Then one guy who could speak excellent English came to ask me
“Hey, are you chinese? Vietnamese? For tourist?” He asked me
“No, I am Indonesian. I am here yes for tourist.” I answered as he asked. The condition was creeping me out. I was like in the camp for Gulag during soviet Era. It was really scary, I was around central Asian people and several Russian people who had very firm jaw and cold smile.
“The receptionist is not here yet, but he will come. What do you need?” he asked me again.
“I need to register my visa and hostel where I am staying must do it for me.” I replied
“Really? I never know about that, I don’t think we can do it for you. But let’s wait for the receptionist, he will come in 30 minutes. I am Sergey, what’s your name?”
“I am Zhuko (not to mention suko to avoid the misunderstanding).”
I had read some articles about central Asian people or from South Caucasus coming to Moscow to work in construction, and I saw them myself with very bad conditions, or they were much better than others they said. There was an uzbekh guy, I forgot the name, he was 20 years old tried to speak to me in English he learnt when he was in school. I understood some then he suddenly switched to speaking Russian to me when he realized I could understand basic Russian, which was not adequate for conversation. Overall, he was happy to talk with foreigner and how he told me he was new in Moscow, about a week here and he was working in construction, and how lucky he was because he could find job after 3 days in Moscow, while others had to wait months to get job. He was really nice guy, with friendly smile and when he knew i would fly to Kyrgyzstan after Russia he was so happy and wishing me for having great time there as he really wanted to travel as i did also, but he had no chance. I hope he is healthy enough and he can reach his dream now.
I was so bored that time, nobody I could really talk to, then I remembered about Sergey, I went out and started having conversation with sergey.
“Do you know country name Transniestra? I really want visit that country, and also to visit Moldova. Ah, but visa was not easy for me.” I said to him
“Moldova? Really? You really want to visit Moldova and Transniestra? Well, Good luck!” he said in very strong Russian accent.
“What’s wrong? I heard the wine was amazing, have you been there?”
“Actually, I am Moldovan, and I am working here in Russia. Well, my parents are in Moldova, and I have two passports, moldova and Russia. It is very hard to live in Moldova, but yes it is beautiful. I can help you if you really want to visit Moldova.” He responded me. That really surprised me when I talked about moldova and he was Moldovan actually. The conversation lasted longer until the receptionist came.
“hey, how to register my visa here?” I asked
“No, sorry we cannot help registering your visa. You’d better find some other places to ask, we really cant help and we will not do that.” He answer.
I was upset and then, “Hey, it is your responsibility to register any foreigners staying in your hostel, if not they will not prolong your permit for hostel!” I tried to scare him, but I actually the one who was very scared.
“Sorry, man! We never do it and we will not do it. You can change your mind, I will return your money for tomorrow stay if you decide to go.” He answered me. “yes zhuko, we can’t help you, it’s better you find other place to stay!.” Surgey advised me to do so.
Sergey was another nice people i met in Russia, despite his cold sight, he had very sincere smile and he was smart. He told me that he was an english university graduate and he was an owner of big car wash business in Moldova and somewhere in Moscow, he had had good life before with good girlfriend and how he told me about his last trip to Egypt and Turkey with his girlfriend before he broke up with, and how upset he was that time till date he could not move on but the girl had found another boy. Then teh economy condition was bad, he couldn't run his business anymore. He had loaned with his friends and he needed to pay all his loan and he worked in Car wash.
|sunset in Moscow during summer|
I was helpless that time and tried to find nearby place to stay. The sergey advised me to stay nearby hostel with had much better condition and proper for tourist as he told me that this hostel was for worker who planned to stay very long, at least a month and he had stayed there for 5 months already, he pretty much knew anybody there.
I couldn’t sleep but tried to find better location to stay and the first day and night in Russia was awful with that creepy conditions but I met nice and friendly people already, and I had fallen in love with russia that time despuite i was still scared about my visa.
to be continued to Day 2