I read about this ice cave from Lonely Planet before and someone recommended to visit there if I have some time in Perm. So next day I tried to catch a train to Kungur – only found that the train has already left and the next one won’t depart until 3pm this afternoon (yes, I talked to several people to make sure that I’m understanding this correctly). Since it will be too late to get there by then, I decided to check out the bus station instead.
After asking several people, I figured that the bus station must not be nearby this train station but I had a hard time finding anyone who could help me on which public bus to take to get to the bus station. Since I could not get help from here, I decided to chance it and take random bus. I got on the bus, the bus driver told me that they do not go to the bus station but I could not understand the rest of his Russian. So I got off at the city center, then to another bus stop where I found some people. One lady pointed to me the bus that goes to the bus station, as I got onto the bus, I finally found someone who speaks English. “How did you manage to get around here without English?” He asked?
“most of the time I don’t talk” I said.
“this is amazing. I speak a little bit of English. I will help you then.”
He helped me to get off the right bus stop. After getting into the building, he said, “you need to check the times” then he went through the bus schedule painted on the walls, “the next one is in half an hour. Do you know where the station #4 is?”
“Here, I show you.”
We then head back out the entrance, walked a couple meters where there were a bunch of buses with a plate in front each of them. “This is your bus” He the proceed with a bunch of Russian with the driver, “I just told the driver your stop.”
“Ok, thanks a lot.” I was so happy that I was lost in words….
Since the final destination of this bus is not Kungur, I was still very worried to miss my stop. So I asked the lady next to me if she is also stopping at Kungur, she showed me her ticket and said yes she is. Then I said that I wanted to go to the cave, “ah the cave” she said. Then she asked around the bus and found big young Russian man who is also going on the same direction. He agreed to help me out.
We got off the bus from the train station. He was in his twenties, browny, and *gasp* has no hair on his head. I was quite worried that he would be one of those famous Russian skin-heads. They were famous for attacking Asians, but since I had nowhere else to ask for help, I just followed him. “I speak a little English.” He said.
On our way to the cave, he pointed to different buildings, “That, a university – you eat there”. Ok.
We finally arrived to the cave, he helped me buying my ticket, brought me to a little cafe at the entrance of the cave to lunch. I bought something for us to share, but he shaked his head, “no, I go home.” then he left. Whew, what a nice man. But he was such an easy mix-up with the SkingHeads, and thank god he wasn’t one of them.
The cave was very long, so you have to have a guide to get inside. Different tours for different parts of the cave were offered throughout the day. Unfortunately, I do not speak Russian, and the tour was only conducted in Russia (ok, I was probably the only non-Russian speaker guest for days, fair enough).
Unlike the morning, after visiting the cave I did catch a train going back to Perm. I found a lady at the train station who could speak a bit of English to make sure that the next train goes to Perm. Once on the train, she told me that she used to study English very diligently, and she still carries a 5th grade English book with her everywhere.
“Why do you go to Kungur?” I asked.
“To buy vegetables.”
“why, can’t you buy vegetables from Perm?” I was quite puzzled with her answer.
“no, country side, good vegetables, clean water, clean air. Perm, bad vegetables.”
Then she proceed telling me all of the spots that she would like to go on her vegetable shopping…. Since I looked Asian, I immediately stood out from the crowd on the train. After everyone on the train found out that I am an English speaker, several curious people came over to talk to me. One shirt-less guy on the other end of the train even shouted at me, “you speak English? Come here” then he pointed to a tiny spot next to him despite the fact that his bench was full.
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