Friday 3rd December, Madrid, Spain
*scroll down for the latest journal entry. It's at the bottom, mate*
"Hey, Steve! I have a challenge for you! If you can stand 6-hour dancing on the progressive dancefloor in the night club "Object 01" of Irkutsk (Siberia), I'll pay for entrance tickets, drinks, and will give you an extra 15$. I will allow only 5 short breaks of 10 minutes within this night. :-)
And of course, I'm still offering you an accommodation in my place for as long as you wish and help of any kind in Irkutsk or Baikal region."
Reward= entry, drinks and fifteen US dollars
Status= pending...on my way to Siberia after Christmas!
This challenge came through in the wee hours of the morning,
the first challenge I've received in what seems like ages. It may prove to be the toughest I've faced so far, since I have not danced in about fifteen years. Well, there was that time on the Kibbutz, but I wasn't really dancing, just trying to cross the dance floor to get to the toilet, but with the effects of a bellyfull of Israeli vodka, onlookers may have been forgiven for mistaking my movements for some form of primitive dance.
Maria and I have finally put together a reasonably detailed itinerary for our upcoming Russia trip.
I've emailed the forty or so people who we hope to stay with along the way, and have been encouraged by the positive responses that have already been pouring in. When we were planning to travel via Belarus, it seemed that Moscow would be our first stop in Russia. The Belarussian visa, however, would have set us back about $100 each, so plans change. We discovered that Lithuania and Latvia will let us travel through without visas. Now from our last stop in Latvia, Moscow is a seventeen hour train ride, whereas St Petersburg is a 'mere' twelve hours. Seeing as we both depart from Moscow (Maria to Madrid, myself towards China) it makes sense for us to go to St Petersburg first. However, just because it makes sense, doesn't mean it's possible. Our Russian visas are incredibly rigid, and if we said we would be starting in Moscow, then start in Moscow we may have to. I'm waiting for a response from our 'visa support' company- that's the company that we paid $100 for some dodgy documents that are necessary in order for us to apply for visas. Nothing is straightforward, it seems.
Here's our itinerary. It may have to change by a day or so depending on where we can and cannot find hosts, but for the most part our travels will be as follows:
December 26th- Berlin
December 27th- Berlin
December 28th- Berlin (Maria's birthday!)
December 29th- Prague (or Ceska Lipa)
December 30th- Prague
December 31st- Prague (New Years Eve!)
January 1st- Brno, Czech Republic
January 2nd- Olomouc, Czech Republic
January 3rd- Katowice, Poland
January 4th- Katowice, Poland
January 5th- Lublin, Poland
January 6th- Warsaw
January 7th- Warsaw
January 8th- Vilnius
January 9th- Vilnius
January 10th- Riga
January 11th- Cesis, Latvia
January 12th- >
January 13th- > MOSCOW
January 14th- > AND
January 15th- > ST.PETERSBURG-
January 16th- > EXACT DATES
January 17th- > TO BE
January 18th- > CONFIRMED !!
January 19th- >
January 20th- >
January 21st- Maria to Berlin for a night, and back to Madrid on the 23rd. Steve to continue east to Tyumen, Omsk, Novisibirsk, Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk and Ulan Ude (perhaps two nights in each place?) leaving Russia by February 10th for Mongloia and China !!
As I scour the internet for the best deals on thermal underwear, arcic socks, gaiters, gore tex gloves, heat packs and the like (remember, it's likely to be negative twenty or thirty degrees in Russia!) I spare a thought for people who live in such extremes, and don't have credit cards to purchase the latest polypropylene long johns. So here is The Savage's thought for the day...
A friend of mine sponsors a young girl in an orphange in the mountains of India. This time of year, she says, is the most difficult for the children, as they brace themselves- ill prepared- for the bitter winter. I give you what my friend wrote...
While the children are grateful for shoes/boots/wool clothes to be sent, the cost of postage is a real waste of money when that money could be used to purchase these there. So instead, we are hoping people will simply send a check made payable to the orphanage for any amount of money, even just $10 (or more, of course) sent directly to the orphanage. There are 85 kids, ages 3 to 17, and Lama Thupten just wrote that the oldest children have the most urgent (meaning NOW) need for winter boots (larger sizes), and the youngest need shoes too.
The website is: www.ManjushreeOrphanage.org
The address is: Lama Thupten Phuntsok, Principal Manjushree Vidyapith Orphanage, Tashi Jong, P.O. & Dist: TAWANG 790104,
Arunachal Pradesh, India.
They have NO ELECTRICITY, and are at 11,000 ft. in the Himalayas in the far NE corner of India. This is a Tibetan Orphanage, in a very remote area that once was part of Tibet. Another option would be for people to order a pair of boots from a family in Canada who collect and recondition used boots, and sell the best on Ebay under the store name of BobCat Boots. They will pick out boots that they will NOT be selling on ebay due to more wear, and will sell them for less and will send directly to the orphanage. Bob Anderson's email is firstname.lastname@example.org
So people could email him and arrange to pay him directly, then he will pick out boots and send himself. However, the cost of postage is an issue, which would be spent on boots if a check is sent right to the orphanage instead. Anyway, Lama T's email from two days ago again stated his deep concern and need for winter boots for the children, so any help you can provide by
passing on this request is GREATLY appreciated! I've managed to equip my daughter with boots, coat, clothes, etc, some which I bought in Ebay, and she is comfortable, so now to help the other children.