Advocating Life; Blessed with Ra'i Hamde.

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Location: Sungai Petani, Malaysia

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Leaving Moscow to Irkutsk

2 June. We transit in Moscow again, as we did when we were flying to St Petersburg, only this time on the way to Irkutsk from Kazan. And just as St Petersburg's 'aeroport' was small, so too, was Kazan's. We were between horror and laughter when we saw some planes stowed, not on concrete landings but on fields full of grasses in Kazan! At most airports so far we had to board a bus to the plane. I guess Russia still has a long way to go for modernisation of its airports. Most also don't have escalators, let alone lifts.., but it didn't seem to be a problem for the Russians. Perhaps their concern was more of basic things rather than comfort. Russians are quite hospitable, but they seemed rather unfriendly at first instances as they don't smile or laugh much in public or in company. They talk rather fast, and even walked fast too. Even when they offer assistance or ask us questions they seemed angry.. when in fact they are not. St Petersburg was beautiful, lots of places to visit, lots of pretty parks and quaint architectures. It's also cooler even in summer compared to Moscow. It can rain unexpectedly everywhere though. St Petersburg is near the sea, and there are many canals and rivers. If you appreciate arts you could spend two days or more just perusing the Hermitage's displays. It's supposed to be the No 1 museum in the world and the biggest. There are also various parks and old palaces, some of which don't really look like one but still has interesting architecture. Moscow has its share of rivers and canals and beautiful architecture, but the climate is slightly warmer, at times hotter than Malaysia in summer.. And most of the places of historical and architectural interest could be visited in one day, unless you intend to visit the markets and do some heavy shopping - you could shop the whole day at each market! Kazan, seems to be most interesting because of its rich history.. Here in the highland was full of proof of the earth's age - from amazing stones and amethysts and dinosour bones and creatures that live long ago to the first settlements - and the history of Islam.. Many mosques were there in Kazan, though for beauty and architecture Kul Sharif is most famous. Its interesting to see one of the oldest church standing next to the mosque in the same square, and when we were there the non Muslim tourists were equally enthralled by the beauty of the mosque and taking pictures and visiting the inside of it. Even more interesting is that there were newly married Muslim couples and their family, and newly-married Christians and their family walking around the same square taking pictures for memoirs outside the same mosque. The traditional Muslims of Tatarstan wear long dresses or skirts though some modern ones were wearing loose pants. The city, sitting where two rivers met is pleasant in scenery, but is old and a little tired. There were few modern buildings around. The weather was similar to Moscow. The nights in all three cities were shorter and causes havoc to our sleeping habits - it would be dusk only around 10pm, and Subuh comes as early as 2am. I'm writing this on the local carrier UTair to Irkutsk, where it is 5 hours ahead of Moscow and 1 hour ahead of Malaysian time, wondering what is in store there and hoping to have a pleasant weather and visit before moving on to Ulan Bator. From Moscow, I would have travelled nearly a quarter of the earth in this trip.. getting more educated of the people around the world, and delighted with the sights. Subhanallah, walhamdulillah walailaha illallah wallahuakbar.


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