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Lighting out for the territory nce more in the Middle East. The more I travel the more I want to travel and the longer that I am out of England the happier I am. At present in Iraq and having a wonderful time. really fallen in love with the country and the people. Very glad I came and

Sun 30th Nov - Khabarovsk

RUSSIAN FEDERATION | Monday, 1 December 2008 | Views [442]

Wake as we stop and go for a cigarette in the corridor. A woman tells me it is 'Meenus 15' and I believe her as there is heaped snow or frost in the corner by the door. The sun is coming up on the snow and birch trees and it is a very long way from Varanasi -Yay!

Book ticket to Ulan Ude for two days hence - hard class, lower berth (impressed? I was)

Later - for sheer entertainment there is nothing to beat trudging round Khabarovsk in -10c with a rucksack full of bricks and looking for a bed. I walk miles and cannot believe that in normal life I am such a hypochondriac. Success at last at the Hotel Zara just before I head back to the station to beg to change my ticket. Zara very plush and modern and who cares if I have to share bathroom? Not me - intrepid Sherpa Fran who can use the side of the road in Tibet at 4,500 metres.

Hotel registers me so I have the day to myself to find internet and burn a CD. Maybe tigers tomorrow? Nap calls and I wake very warm two hours later. Find net next to a park with an ice-rink and there are Russians skating. How right.

Khabarovsk is big with open spaces and very wide streets set out on a grid so easy to get round if you don't mind the distances. Fairly flat which makes me warm to it. People look comfortable and easy - lots and lots of fur, most of it real. Drool. Clean streets, cars stop at traffic lights and zebras (can you hear me, Tehran?)and, miracle of miracles!, there is no spitting (Pakistan, India, China, Tibet - wonder they are not all dead of TB)

Frustrating time at net as cannot download Java - why does no one have Java as standard? it's Java for God's sake! - but burn CD anyway. Then  out for coffee from kiosk on the corner and a look thru the park railings at all the swings lit up and moving. Then up the road where an accident has just happened. An old man is lying flat out on his back, his hat has come off and someone has put a red rug over his thighs so that, at a distance, it looks like someone has run over Father Christmas. Police, ambulances and unhappy looking man and woman next to their car with a badly dented bonnet. Poor man, from the lack of interest in him, I fear he is dead.

Mumbai? Catch it on tv later. Hope fishfryer is OK. Watch tv for a while instead of having shower and eat cheese and apple. There is a hot and cold water dispenser on this floor as usual in Russia so make tea.Sleep at 10. Bad cold this.

Tags: snow! trains!

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