I went to the money exchange and exchange 2000 Chinese Yuan for 241 U.S. Dollars so I could go to Legends Tours here in Ulaan Baator and buy an Invitation, Visa, and pay for one night room in Moscow. I calculated this would cost around 175 - 200 U.S. Dollars.
So I walked into the Legends Tour Russian Tour operator office here in Ulaan Baator intending to pay the money, had the money in my pocket, and ready to go. When I walk in the girl said,
“Did you go to embassy yesterday?”
“I see you.”
Then she starts,
“Why did you go to embassy, I told you not to go to Embassy, and now you have problems.”
“I just asked about a Transit Visa, and he said it was 65 Dollars, so the Tourist Visa is only 70, and they take the same time.
She got a irritated and insinuated and said, that now she could not be sure she could get a Visa. She said, something about the man in the Embassy having different stories or hearing different stories.
“I just ask questions, and did not lie.”
I ask her,
“Do you think I have lied to you?”
She shook and just stood sat there,
This went back and forth, and I shut up and listened, and in the end sat down and tried to listen. She is very impatient. This is how I felt that she was saying to me,
“You pay the any money I ask and stop asking question, why do you care how much money it cost?”
I am thinking… Who gives a shit if they go to a country full of assholes. I have to be worried about the police wanting a bribe, about drunks trying to rob me, and the place is Siberia. It is still very cold now and who cares? I want to go to Russia, but I want to insure that I enjoy the trip.
There is a term or they use a term in basketball, when they say,
“Do not force the play.”
FORCING THE PLAY
If you force the play in travel the cost doubles or triples. If I do not instinctually feel a good deal, it is better to pass.
I gave up and am going to Thailand.
ULAAN BAATOR, MONGOLIA WEDNESDAY
Ulaan is easy or UB as they call it for Internet and food. They have large grocery stores, and Internet Cafes on every corner. The transportation is dodgy and not clear. The people are nice, but the men seem to hang around like drunks, I do not know if they are drunks, but this is not the type of place to walk around after dark.
The man at the Russian Embassy said I needed to get a Visa from Legends Tours or I would have troubles getting a Visa. I thought I would get a Transit Visa, but the man at the Embassy wants 65 dollars for that Visa, and the Tourist is only 70. I smell a rat, but I am getting a feeling that all of Russia is a rat. Reminds me of Mexico. So Mexico and Russia may be the same exploitive mentality.
I will go today and apply for the tourist visa with the legends tour. The mean girl forces me to buy a reservation in Moscow to get the ticket.
So the cost is about:
115 for Invitation and Tourist Visa
50 Dollars U.S. for the room in Moscow.
It would be a lot more, but I have beaten her down about 100 Dollars and am not getting the quick visa.
She says this will take 10 days.
I am trying to skip Russia, as I do not like to go to countries where they make life difficult, because my life is difficult. Better to go where life is easy and have a good life. Of course some people would not be happy unless they were not in the middle of a problem.
I will end up in Estonia by way of Saint Petersburg….. I think?
PEOPLE COMING OUT OF RUSSIA
I have met maybe 10-15 people coming or arriving from Russia. Only one has been or seems very happy about Russia. A Ottawa French Canadian that likes to smoke cigarettes and drink. I think he like the debauchery of it, but who can be sure, it appears there is a seedy attraction for some people. He does say, and he has spent more time than most in Russia that it is very dangerous..
There is lots of people explaining or talking about the smugglers on the train. There is a constant opinion that you can bribe anyone in Russia and it is expected.
The Hostel is slowly changing people, as on week seems to be the time span that people stay in the Hostel before leaving.
I guess I have been here about four days, and am getting settled into life in Mongolia. I have written a friend of mine Nick in Moscow and he has replied, but I have no clear or definite plans on how to visit Russia.
CLEAR AND DEFINITE PLANS?
I have learned that I will not travel or move if there is not a clear path in front of me, and a reason to leave a good situation. I feel a need make a list of all my choices or options before leaving Mongolia. It is easy and cost effective here to explore the possible options before the next step of this journey.
Jeff is a different type of traveler then me in that he travels fast and looks at all the tourist attractions. I travel very slow, stay, and live and try to understand the locals in a different way. But because he knows he is never staying he can enter and leave a country in two days, while I am committed to the idea that ever place deserves ten days and every country deserves a month.
I have a lot of options.
RUSSIAN CROSSING OPTIONS
1. Transit Visa through Russia.
2. Tourist Visa through Russia.
SKIP OR NOT TRAVEL TO RUSSIA OPTIONS:
1. Fly to Europe from Ulaam Baatar.
2. Fly to South East Asia from Ulaam Baatar
3. Go to Kazakhstan and across the Caspian Sea.
COUNTRIES TO ENTER WHEN LEAVING RUSSIA
I will go to the CIA fact book and download the maps of the following countries so I can see or surmise the major cities and entry requirements for Americans.
1. Finland - Entry easy and just cross the border for USA people.
2. Latvia - Entry easy and just cross the border for USA people.
3. Lithuania - Entry easy and just cross the border for USA people.
THE END GAME OR LANDING SITE IN EUROPE
1. Poland, Germany, Sweden, or any country that is base of flying for Ryanair.com or Easyjet.com to fly to Rome for warmer weather.