As I mentioned yesterday, Phetchaburi was a quick weekend trip for me. I came back home on a Sunday evening and then basically turned back around the following night to head to Bangkok. Because on Tuesday I had an early morning flight to . . . RUSSIA!
I’ve always been surprised by how popular Thailand is as a Russian tourist destination. But at least I was prepared with that information before my flights because both (there and back) were jam-packed with Russians. Even my flight back to Bangkok was so full of Russians that I only managed to glimpse one Thai family!
But that’s beside the point. Why did I choose cold and uninviting Russia as my summer vacation destination? Because one of my best friends has been living in St. Petersburg for the past year! And, let’s be honest, anyone who’s lived overseas – actually lived overseas – knows that life gets pretty lonely. So a little BFF-cation (best friend vacation), as I like to call it, was the perfect thing for both of us.
Despite visiting Russia in April (AKA springtime), the wind chill and lack of blooms definitely made it feel like winter. I was surprised by how bleak the landscape seems to be: tall, brown, identical buildings, most of which have not been rebuilt since Soviet times; run-down roads (no rebuilding plans in sight); and masses of people clothed in black and grey. To be honest, I was surprised by a lot of things. Crowds of silent people walking into metro stations, silent because most are walking alone or with one other person, not in groups of friends or family members. A lack of originality and beauty in the architecture – unless you happen to find yourself in one specific area of St. Petersburg or in a three-minute radius of the Kremlin. The way the word bleak seems so capable of characterizing so much. I can’t imagine trying to get used to all these things as an expat in Russia. I just can’t imagine it.
We did try to make the most of our time together: we spent three days in St. Petersburg, three days in Moscow, and three more days back in St. P. We saw what sites there are!
Overall, I am so thankful that I had the chance to see one of my best friends again after 15 months apart! I’m thankful that I had the chance to visit Russia for the first time. I’m thankful that I had the chance to visit the two major cities in Russia and even stay with a Russian family in Moscow at that. I’m thankful that I had the chance to experience snow again after two (sad) years without it! And I was definitely thankful to land in Bangkok at the end of my trip, a renewed sense of appreciation and gratitude for Thai hospitality and friendliness in hand.
Stay tuned for my next travel update and a little Thai holiday lesson: Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai for Songkran!
Have you ever been to Russia or anywhere else in Eastern Europe? Do you want to go? Tell me about your experiences!