Mr Medved

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About Mr Medved

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  1. Only the last 3, the rest in Moscow.
  2. One thing that is different in Russia, is you can't connect to wifi without a mobile phone number. If you connect basically anywhere you need to enter your number and receive a confirmation number by SMS. Big brother is always watching you!
  3. After a few days in Moscow I flew to Novosibirsk - the capital of Siberia. The airport in Moscow (SVO) seemed rather antiquated, I had to check in my bag and then carry it to another counter to be taken on the plane. This would be my first Aeroflot experience. Getting to the plane was an absolute cock-up. We loaded onto a bus, and were driving for what seemed like 15 minutes to the other end of the airport. When we got there staff hadn't arrived so we spent about another 15 minutes on the bus. By the time I got on the plane I'm guessing it took 45 minutes from the gate... just painful. Surprisingly the food was great! I try to follow a keto diet and unlike Qatar Airways they had excellent food for that type of diet. Leg room sucked but only a four hour flight and I slept for half of that. I arrived in Novosibirsk and one thing I realised quickly that even less people here speak English. I found my way to the bus into town after avoiding an annoying taxi hyena. I really wanted to tell him to "f*ck off" but thought that may not go down well. I made another n00b mistake on the bus. A guy came up to me and just stared at me without saying anything. I had assumed he was a conductor so gave him money for the fare. As soon as I gave it to him it was evident he was not a conductor, but a mute hobo. You can't really tell the difference. I quickly snatched back my rubles and the driver yelled at him to piss off. When we arrived in the city he didn't pay for the fare and was shoved off the bus unceremoniously by the driver. For the only time on the trip I slipped on ice on the way to the hotel. I hate ice and the footpaths were not cleared (unlike in Moscow). My first impression of Novosibirsk (NSK) was "bleak". The left bank of the city is highly industrial and a lower socioeconomic demographic lives there. The centre reminded me of any other ex-Soviet city I have visited, but with its own feel. I was lucky that it barely snowed the whole time while I was in Russia, but the soles of my feet have dried and cracked and it's actually quite painful to walk. The day temperatures have been rather mild. I frequented a bar where I met up with a guy I met via the interwebs. He's originally from Italy but been living in Russia for a number of years. He said people in NSK are quite warm and open. I got a few recommendations on places to visit, prices for nice restaurants and bars are essentially the same as in Australia, but hellishly expensive for local standards. I spent a fair bit of time walking the streets and parks, but as my feet were really sore I didn't walk as much as planned. On my final day I spent a lot of time with a real estate agent. She doubled as a driver showing me around different apartments. She didn't speak any English but mostly we could communicate, when there was a loss for words online translation did the job. The apartments were a mixed bag. It's amazing the difference ceiling height makes. 270cm feels really cramped, whereas 300-320cm feels so much bigger. I was told advertised prices are never what they are sold at, they are normally discounted. A couple of places I checked out Mrs Medved inspected a year ago. Places can stay on the market a long time. Getting to the airport was a breeze, only about 20 minutes, but given I left at 4am I hardly saw another car on the road. Navigating the airport was relatively simple given it is so small, but it would be a fluke to meet staff who know any English. Simply most people don't know it. I was told by a barman that if you go to other cities in Siberia there may be half a dozen people in the whole city who speak English. So if you come to this part of the world brush up on your Russian! My broken Russian is functional enough to get me to where I need to go. So now off to Moscow en route to New York. I enjoyed my time in Siberia but need to figure out how to stop my feet from falling apart in the cold next time I'm here.
  4. Last time I was in Moscow I got ripped off by a taxi driver, so i was careful tonight when I had to get one across town by myself. Turned out the driver was a great guy and had an enjoyable conversation in my broken Russian and his broken English. I stuffed up the metro stations but he wasn't going to charge me more, so tipped him... and I'm not the tipping kind of guy. It's random positive interactions that makes travel fun... not sure you get that on Contiki tours and the like.
  5. Made it to Moscow, I forgot what a bitch the flight to Doha is - 15 hours. luckily we arrived an hour early. For some reason the pricks at Qatar Airways closed off ten rows of seats (100 seats) so we were pretty tightly packed in when it should have been a comfortable flight. I told a flight attendant I had sore legs and wanted more space, so was moved to the back of the plane. I almost got four seats to myself but a guy moved in before I could lie down. But at least nobody was sitting next to me. The connecting flight seemed like a dream, only five hours. I was able to get three seats to myself and was right up the front. Arrived at DME airport, it's actually quite easy to get to the city with the airport trains the have which connect to the metro system. I don't think they existed last time I was there, maybe I'm wrong. But it was pretty easy to navigate with my broken Russian. If you can read cyrillic, even without understanding everything, it makes life soooo much easier to get around the city. The hotel is four stars, good location and just over $100/night which seems like a bargain. Now this is not the first time I have been in Russia, I am not a complete n00b, but I have already fallen for three beginners mistakes. The first was at the airport, I bought a SIM card without first confirming the price. I'm not sure I paid normal retail prices, but possibly got ripped off all of about five dollars. The thing about Russia is always ask the price before anything. Everything. Spent the evening in a swanky wine bar that the concierge recommended. Was stuck on the wait list because I didn't make a reservation. I'm not used to having to make reservations but seems like some places in the world it is customary else you spend a lot of time waiting. But the food was good. You get reamed on the drinks, it was like ten bucks for a bottle of water. It was a bit too pretentious for my liking, at least that was the feel. Next day I did some walking around the city, Red Square etc. Went to Gum shopping centre which is quite swanky. Very expensive so I didn't buy anything. Found it peculiar that lots of people were queuing at multiple stalls... for ice-cream! When I left I fell for beginners error #2. Some guys dressed in costumes approached me in a friendly manner, very jovial, took my camera and then started taking pictures. After a bunch of photos they asked for payment. I told them I'd delete the photos. Ended up offering about ten bucks as I just couldn't be bothered getting into an argument. One of them wanted ten each but his friend saw I wasn't in the mood. In the evening I went to a steakhouse. For an ok meal it cost me about $60. I'm not used to paying that kind of money for one person for a meal. But hey, it's Moscow and I'm not sure when I'll get back so just enjoyed it for what it was. Decided to kick on to a bar that was recommended to me. Both the waitresses and female patrons dance on the bars. I think the place would be really kicking on weekends if it was packed, was maybe half full for a Thursday night. Met a lady there who was interested in me, but seemed to be there with her boyfriend, but according to her wasn't her boyfriend. And apparently he threatened to kill me if I touched her. Brought back memories of an evening in Minsk many years ago. Annoyingly people smoked there so ended up stinking of cigarettes when I got home. It's been a while since that has happened to me. So beginners mistake #3, the scantily-dressed waitresses there want to make money not only through tips but also by buying them drinks. There was one which was effective in getting money or tips out of me, but eventually I said I had no money left. Of course her response was to pay with a credit card! At one point she wouldn't even give me my change. Today I just did more walking around the city. Went to Arbat which is a famous street. Was quite boring as normally it is packed with artists but I guess not many come out mid-week in the winter. Though it is relatively mild outside, I've been able to get away without a jacket and just wear a hoodie. Early tomorrow I'll be flying to Sibera, just hoping the weather is just as "warm" there. I'll probably upload a few photos once back in Oz.
  6. Most bands on the bill had been around for 25+ years so was an older crowd.
  8. It sounds like this will have waves of ramifications. Trade wars historically tend to lead to hot wars.
  9. Prices have risen to such a crazy level that it is only an influx of foreign capital that can keep prices around current levels. I can't see banks loosening their standards much more than they already have. So I'm hoping for a Japanese-style lost decade because the country couldn't handle a house price crash.
  10. Nah I have longer hair.
  11. Here's some photos from the gig (not by me, I was busy taking video and hanging out with friends).
  12. I think the whole trip from leaving work to arriving back at the hotel in Sydney was just 116 hours; almost half of that was in transit! Traveled by car from the DC area to Philly by car. Unfortunately there were a few accidents so it took us longer than expected. I didn't see much of Philly but it has got more of the Billy Ray Valentine feel about it than Duke & Duke. Apparently has a thriving music scene though. I didn't see much of the city but you can tell the difference in economic demographics by the quality of the airport compared to those in Washington. I haven't seen a billowing smoke stack in a city for quite some time, wouldn't want to live in that neighbourhood. I got lucky on the way back. The flight to SFO was on the side of the plane with two seats, so I had to *sigh* actually sit next to somebody, but he was quiet and drinking booze all flight. The flight to SYD was half full, so as soon as the seat belt light went off it was like a gold rush. Through stealth and a steely mind I was able to secure four seats to myself... what a joy! I slept for about seven hours and was able to survive the day at work without any major hits of jet lag. Well, only one but just went for a walk and got something to eat. Working in Sydney so don't actually get home until tomorrow night. Looking forward to seeing the family and resting on the weekend... but will need to repack my bags! Off to Russia next week followed by a conference in New York so hopefully will have some travelogue-type photos to share.
  13. I flew over to see a band play. So this is not a travelogue of sights, only sounds. Happen to know one of the guys in the band so attended rehearsals last night. Unfortunately didn't have ear plugs so my ears are still ringing. I have a feeling just as I am starting to get over jet lag I will be back on a plane. Flew into DC and heading to Philadelphia today. It's surprising how close all of the cities are over on the east coast, even the Maryland area is smaller than I thought - though traffic can be awful. I was told it is the second worst in the world after Los Angeles. I forgot how cold it gets in winter. I'll be in Russia in a week and a half so will definitely need to buy a winter jacket. So probably a few more photos from that trip.
  14. I can only see two things that can increase already expensive real estate: foreign capital inflows or lax lending/"easy money". Commodities may be a good place to look, I haven't checked them in a while. Otherwise stocks after a major correction. But the key is capital flows - it may be a region will benefit, and not specifically an asset class (i.e., safe haven).