It’s snowing in Moscow

I made it back safely to Moscow and checked in at the Red Square hostel. I’m really over landing in countries in the middle of the night! I got in at 2:00 am and went straight to sleep. Tomorrow I get to make the 17 hour series of flights home! This trip has been really great and I’ve enjoyed all the places I chose this time. There were some things to note if you plan on visiting these places:

Kazzhol Hotel, Kazakhstan – this was listed as the lonely planet’s top pick for midrange hotel. I think they have been surviving off of that review for the last couple years. The hotel was not friendly, clean, or convenient unfortunately. They also failed to call me for my wake up call at 3:00 am to catch my flight (luckily I set an alarm as well). Every time I went to ask the hotel staff a question, they told me that I did not pay for my room for the night (as if that was a standard greeting). They also tried to charge me for the room the night before I got there. When I asked about the taxi to the airport that I had arranged, the woman at the desk told me that there were many taxis outside (at 3:45 am). The restaurant downstairs was great though, and reasonably priced.

Flight schedules – unfortunately, almost every central Asian flight schedule sucks. This makes it exceptionally hard to safely get from the airport to the hotel and back. Arrange a pickup with the hotel, and pay the ridiculous price. You’ll pay it either way, just the other way includes an actual robbery vs. a robbery via the extortionist hotel prices. The integrity of cab drivers at 4:00 am is non-existent. Most importantly, do not get into a cab if there are two people driving you to your destination (the cabbie’s friend, etc.).

Language – buy the lonely planet Central Asia Phrasebook. Unless you speak Russian, you will need this book more than anything else you bring. English is not very prevalent. I would also help to learn how to read Cyrillic as well. Otherwise you will be extremely lost (it won’t take that long to learn that the B is a v, the C is an s, and the Y makes an oo sound).

People are really great – everywhere in the world. People generally have the best intentions. Give them the chance to prove it…

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