The Rinpoche Bagsha temple crackled with the deep murmur of Buddhist prayer. Under the gaze of a golden cross-legged Buddha, eight monks in crimson robes sat at a low table in the centre of the room, ethereal chants bursting from their throats. A bell tinkled. During the final prayer the congregation, squeezed together on benches close to the monks, picked up parcels of food and waved them in front of themselves in clockwise circles. The bell tinkled one last time.
And with that, a hundred Russians put on their hats and coats, and came outside to where six marshrutka buses were waiting. The driver took their 20 roubles before taking them down the hill to Soviet Square. So begins a Sunday evening in the republic of Buryatia, Eastern Siberia’s Buddhist province. … More Letter from Ulan-Ude (Republic of Buryatia – Siberia, Russia)
A thousand miles from Moscow, a thousand kilometres from St. Petersburg, the Arctic town of Kandalaksha, on the frozen shores of the White Sea in Murmansk oblast’, is one of Russia’s most northerly communities. Founded 500 years ago as a fishing village, but with an aluminium smelter and locomotive depot giving the area an industrial purpose under the Soviet Union, Kandalaksha has been forgotten for the last twenty years. It is now only a dot on the vast Kola Peninsula – a 100,000 square kilometre expanse of pine forest between the White and Barents Seas. … More Kandalaksha – Russia’s Arctic North
I recently spoke with the people behind the #TRLT Twitter chat about my travels on The Road Less Travelled. The interview can be found in the chat’s Facebook group, and is also copied below.
… More Interview: Talking #TRLT (The Road Less Travelled)
At 7am the streets of Yoshkar-Ola were dark and empty. As I shuffled over dirty snow and treacherous black ice, the only sound was the bickering of ravens overhead. The shops on ulitsa Kremlyovskaya – Apteka No. 67; Evroset; Moda 21 vek – told me that I had arrived in provincial Russia. Except that ul. Kremlyovskaya is also Kreml urem: street signs and building plaques are written in Russian and Meadow Mari, the most widely spoken of the four Mari dialects.
I made a beeline for the peculiar buildings in the distance. … More ‘Letter from Yoshkar-Ola (Republic of Mari El, Russia)’ – for The Calvert Journal
Expedia Sweden got in touch with me this week for an interview about my travels. The post appears in the Möt en resenär (‘Meet a traveller’) section of their blog at expedia.se – the English version comes after the Swedish, on the same page. … More Möt en resenär: Talking travel with Expedia Sweden
“The adrenaline fizzing in my blood dulls my judgement. I am not as scared of the man in the ugly green uniform as I should be. But I don’t bother him: it’s pointless to look for thieves after dark in a labyrinth of creepy housing blocks like Kryukovo. … More Escape from Moscow: A night with the Russian militsiya