Friday, 1 June 2018

Some thoughts on Russia and Seoul.

Russia was a great country to visit, DH and I really enjoyed our time in Russia and Siberia.
 The trans-Siberian rail journey, that we achieved will stay a treasured memory.
It is really the best way to see the real Russia, to blend with the Russian people, their cultures and way of life. 
A little word of advice when travelling".."..........
Siberia is a region of Russia.
when you order tea, milk and sugar is extra, specify black or green.
You need small money as they do not like to give change
You need coin for the toilets, 20-30Rubles

Seoul, South Korea. 
Now onto Seoul, we arrived at Incheon airport after 3 hours of flying, got the limousine coach to our hotel, which took 2 hours, checked in, then out to find something for dinner.
Our first experience of a Korean BBQ was not good, with limited English and Korean on both parts, we were not sure of what we were getting. There was one other customer in this little restaurant and he ushered us in, force fed meat to us and told us to sit down, we pointed to one price and nodded, but we think that we were duped and also paid for this other customer, who kept talking in Korean to the owners, long story short, do not agree to something you do not understand.
DH nearly had an apolexy when he got the bill.
First day was a visit to the embroidery museum.
Then later we travelled to Ganghnam food street, a little frustrating to find, but we managed on the metro and asking around. We are surprised at how limited the young ones are with English, not many English menus.
We had lunch then explored the streets, architecture and sculptures.
Gang nam actually means south.
Seoul has 10,000,000 people and has 17 bridges over the Han river and I feel that we will cross most of them over the next six days.
These gates are all over the city, this one is in Dongdaemun.
The next day we were up nice and early to catch the metro to Dongdaemun markets, this area is dedicated to anything related to fabrics. As we are now proficient with the subway we got out at the right stop and off we set to explore.
I might mention at this time, DH is long suffering and does it very well.
The subway stop was right there and if you get of at the right exit, it was just across the street.
100's of stalls dedicated to lace, embroidery, fabric, buttons, books, ready made quilts etc.
I did buy some vintage ribbon and some embroidered patches.
After an hour or so I felt that DH had suffered long enough and we had lunch and then set of to go and visit Bukchon Hanock Village.

Most of the Hanocks are now used as handicraft stores, cultural centres and museums.
We spent a couple of hours exploring and had the opportunity to see some handiwork classes in progress and was treated to a demonstration.
We also visited an embroidery museum and was shown the students work, I also had the opportunity to show them some of my quilts and was shown in return some Korean patchwork, where they use silk, handspun linen and organza.
Such intricate work.
Korean patchwork.
Lovely to walk around Bukchon and see all the traditional dress, donned by teenagers, if they hire them to wear, they actually get into the palace for free. The palace near Bukchon is Gyeongbok and Changdaeokgung  Palace.

Painted ceilings
Kings throne room, check out the minimalism.
A very productive day had by all, tomorrow we will visit the DMZ.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Final leg, Vladivostok and the end of transport-Siberian rail journey.

Success and another tick of the bucket list, yes we travelled 9,288 kms, Moscow to Vladivostok on the trans-Siberian rail network. What a wonderful adventure we all had and a lifetime of memories shared, traversing Russia from west to east.
Our group of 11 and our amazing CEO, Oyla from G Adeventues were awesome and great travelling companions. 
We are from all over the globe, Irish, Scottish, English, Canadians, USA and of course us Aussies with our Russian leader, all worked in cohesion with each other, to complete this epic journey.
A big clap to all of us.
Whilst on the train we celebrated Oyla's birthday, we all made a train cake for her, we all had fun with a Russian Quiz and mafia game.
We arrived in Vladivostok to a wet and miserable day.
The mile marker, 9,288kms from Moscow to Vladivostok.
We did it.
Train on platform.
After we all had well deserved showers, we went on a city tour of Vladivostok, Russia's largest port city  in the Pacific Ocean. Population is 600,000 and the name Vladivostok loosely translates as"Overlord of the east".
Lenins statue
We walked along the waterfront in the rain.
Old naval ships.
Submarine tours anyone!
An arch near the WW2 memorial 

WW2 memoriam 
All along the waterfront.
The soviet symbol, anvil and sickle.
We had a day and evening in Vladivostok, not really a tourist town, for our last night together we all went to dinner and said our goodbyes. 
Words of wisdom, shared, I loved Russia and saw the good and the bad, St Petersburg and Moscow were great cities to visit, but you need to get into the heart of Russia and Siberia to really get an idea of how remote life can be, before and after soviet times.
 We had the best time and felt that Russia loves visitors and were very welcoming.
An awesome adventure and will be one to treasure.
Tomorrow we fly to Seoul, to spend 6 days exploring, then head home.

Ulan-Ude, second last stop before our journey ends.

Being 8 hours on our train overnight we arrived into Ulan-Ude, home of the Buryat people.
The name Ulan-Ude was given in 1934 and means "red uda" or "red gate" in Buryat.
The city is famous for its large and highly unusual statue of the head of Lenin in the central square.
We have travelled 5,641kms of our trans-Siberian journey.
We will spend two days in Ulan-Ude.
Ulan-Ude train station.
Lenin's head, built in 1970 and weighs 42tons, 7.7metres.
Triumphant arch in Ulan-Ude.
Again great art throughput the streets.
A famous literatures.
In pedestrian street.
Tried to get arty with Lenins head.
After we all had showers we went on an excursion to the Ivolginsky temple and old believers village, on the way we got a flat tyre.
Plenty of helpers.
A yurt.
The village gate.
You roll these as you pass and have happy thoughts.
One of the temples, this complex has many, also a university.
The university is the modern building.
Inside the temples.
Monks chanting.
Prayer flags.
This monk's body was exhumed and still looked alive so it is on display, he died almost 100years ago.
The dead monk.
After our tour we had a typical Buryat lunch in a yurt.
Dumplings were amazing.
Shortbread cookies, Buryat style.
Time to pack up and board our train again.
Getting ready for our three days and three nights to Vladivostok, where we will officially end our trans-Siberian adventure.
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