Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saint Petersburg, Russia, Day 3 - Shopping, Air hockey, Udel'niy Park

Sometime before 12pm, woke up and had breakfast which was syrniki.  After that we went to a pharmacy where we bought some strepsils for my throat which was now becoming rather sore, then proceeded to walk to the nearby shopping centre where we played air hockey where I won 3 out of 4 rounds, and then we looked at computers in the computer shop.  By this time it was probably 3pm or later.  I bought a mouse for A. from the shop, a logitech wireless one which I use similar at work.  Then we walked into the clothes shop next door and tried on some clothes.  I tried on a pair of slim fit jeans which felt like extremely tight fitting underwear and a v-neck top, didn't end up buying them as I already have a ton of clothes anyway.  After the extremely tiring process of changing in and out of clothes I was hungry, so we went to the food court on the topmost floor where I had buckwheat with mushrooms at teremok.  Then we walked to huge grocery building which was next to the shopping centre, sort of like wal mart or Giant in Singapore or a huge Coles in Australia, and I bought some dried italian pasta and rye macaroni to take back with me.  We walked back home after that and had some cake and food that A's brother had bought because it was his birthday that day and there were quite a few of his friends gathered.  I didn't understand a thing of course.  But no matter. :)  After that we took a walk to Udel'niy Park to work off the food and to see what the Russians do in the park, which is frankly quite similar to what other people do in parks, barbecues, lazing on the grass, playing frisbee and all that stuff.  Similar to all the countries I've been to.  Imagine that, we're all the same no matter what language we speak!  I know, what a surprise.  Did you detect the sarcasm?  Anyway, I didn't take much photos but here's just one small section of the park where you can have a seat.  There weren't many people at this location.  Just some old people.

Just one small part of Udel'niy Park.

I think we left the park around 9pm or so.  The van that was supposed to pick me up was supposed to arrive around 10:30pm but didn't show up till midnight.  Before that we spent time looking at A.'s old photos.

12 midnight (Sunday).  The van arrived and again it was pretty much full.  This time I sat in the front row that's just behind the driver but right in the middle so it was a crappy seat as well.  The route back was the same as the route that I took coming into St. Petersburg.  The journey was smooth except for the loud music one of the passengers was playing right behind me at full volume, and the lights shining in my eyes from the oncoming traffic every now and then.

At 3am we arrived at the Russian border, and what a fiasko it was.  Remember I mentioned earlier how the Russian customs had forgotten to give me the embarkation/disembarkation card when I arrived?

Well, the Russian customs officer who attended to me was not happy at all.  First she asked me if I spoke Russian, then she asked me if I understood Russian, in Russian, and my response to both was no,  in Russian.  Of course then she started blabbering in Russian and kicking up a stink, and asked if anyone spoke English and someone in the queue had to come and interpret, a Russian girl I would assume.  The customs officer wanted to know how I had come in into Russia (look at my passport you dumbass!) and asked where I was going to.  I replied Norway.  Then the Russian girl who was helping me with the interpretation, the boyfriend or something who was Asian or looked Asian at least started asking where I'm from and why I'm going to Norway even though I'm Singaporean like it's any of his damn business!  I felt like planting a fist into his face at that point.  But anyway, nobody needs to know my entire life story.  Perhaps everyone there is completely ignorant and no Singaporean has passed through the Russian Finland border by car before.  So I had to fill in the disembarkation card, and afterwards another Russian customs officer took me to a room and asked if I had any other id like a student card, and I showed him my Norwegian bankcard, asked me how many times I've been to Russia, whether or not the person I visited is Russian, it was ridiculous and I was frankly extremely pissed off.  Did I mention I spent over a hundred dollars on this thing called a visa in my passport which they don't trust for some reason?  And I've been to Russia more than once?  It felt like an episode of Border Security (look it up if you don't know what it is!), Russian edition.  Anyway the entire fiasko lasted half an hour, finally they stamped my passport and we were off to the Helsinki border.  Of course I was well known in the van by now among the Russian passengers.  Which were all women except the driver.  The driver told me the customs officer was crazy.  She's beyond crazy if you ask me.

Before going through Helsinki customs we stopped at a duty free shop, nothing much there really.  At this point it was half past 3.  I was tired.  Helsinki customs didn't pose a problem, it went really smoothly.  The driver asked me for my name and tried to pronounce it.  He tried and did a commendable job.

Around 5:30am or so we arrived in Helsinki.  And picked up one last passenger.  Then we drove off and arrived at the airport probably close to 6am.  The driver tried to say my name again before I picked up my luggage to leave, causing some girls to laugh.  My finnair flight was at 8:30am so I had plenty of time.  I checked my luggage in then went through customs and had some breakfast in a cafe in the terminal.  Juice, salad and a prawn sandwich.

8:55am Arrived in Oslo airport.  I eventually got home around 10 ish am or so.  So ends another adventure in the long line of many adventures. :)

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