Yekaterinburg, Russia

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Before coming to Russia, I read a lot of materials on the murder of the last Tzar family.  Needless to say Yekaterinburg is a must stop for my fascination with the last Tzar family.  The murder was taken place in the basement of where they were kept, which is torn down and now there is an orthodox church built on this ground.  There was a lot of controversy regarding the legality of this church since under orthodox rule a church should not be built on where people died.

I had one of the worst sleeper train experience in my life.  There were a bunch of teenagers in the next compartment drinking and talking loudly all night while everyone else was trying to get some sleep on this overnight train.  Eventually, an elderly lady got up and yelled at them, but they still wouldn’t sleep.  So after a while I got up and I told them, in English, to stop and let everyone sleep.  “I don’t speak English” a boy told me.  But com’on, what a common sense, what do you think when someone got up 3am in the morning while you were parting with your friends would try to say?  I eventually could not bare it – I had to get some sleep, so I told the attendant of this wagon the problem.  She was furious, so she came over and said something very serious (maybe something like “if you don’t shut up you are getting off the next stop”) and then all the sudden everyone went quiet.

I only had 2 hours of sleep on that sleeper train night.

Trying to find a hostel in this city proved to be one of my worst nightmares.  Following the direction, I got on the right bus but the ticket lady could not understand the stop I wanted, so I had to watch for the stop by myself but I lost the count and the lady would not help me.   So I ended up riding the bus till the end of the route.  Completely clueless, I called my hostel to send me a Russian version of my stop via text message, then I showed this text message to the ticket lady and then she gestured to me that we have already passed it sometimes ago and I need to pay for another ticket for the returning route.  I refused to pay and I told her that it was her job to get me to the right destination and she didn’t help me at all.  So this time she watched for my stop and let me off at the right stop, now the task is to find the actual hostel.  Following the hostel’s direction, I find a rather normal –looking residential building at this address.  After looking for it for some time, I found a small chalked-up sign by the corner of the building that read: “MEETING POINT”

In this hostel, I bumped into some Americans whom I met in my hostel in St. Petersburg.  Apparently they booked the same hostel with me in Yekaterinburg but the hostess did not have their bookings, and it also happened to be the night where her hostel was completely full.  So she convinced them to share a small full size futon in the living room….

On second day the three of us rented a taxi and went the landmark of the border between Europe and Asia.  Though a lot of the locals believe the real tectonic plate split is actually happened some miles further from the city, but according to Lonely Planet, geologist  found the split also extended here, which is just 17km from the city.  Regardless, many newlywed came here for their wedding photographs.

I also had the fortune to take a picture with Michael Jackson’s statue which I have found not far outside from a photo gallery displaying 100 best pictures of the year.  Apparently the city of Yekaterinburg put up this statue in memory of 2 years anniversary of MJ’s passing since MJ has performed in Yekaterinburg some years ago. For more pictures…