Geoff’s To Do list

Okay, things I still have left to do:

  • Mongolian visa
  • 50 rolls 200 ASA film, 10-15 rolls b&w (speed TBD)
  • Get camera back from repair
  • Traveller’s cheques
  • Arrange to have house checked regularly
  • Change emergency call numbers for security system
  • 62mm polarized filter
  • Dig out zip off pants and sandals from storage
  • Buy roll of duct tape
  • Put together first aid kit
  • Photocopy credit cards, passport, visas, and other important documents
  • Get cash in euros, and $US
  • Pay taxes
  • New batteries for X370
  • Timers for the lights in my house

I think that’s it. Hopefully, it won’t grow, and will only shrink from here.

Russian visa has arrived!


The one that worried me the most has finally arrived. Canada Post doesn’t exactly make it easy to track their packages, so it wasn’t easy to know where my poor passport was. Yes, there is a page for tracking packages, but they don’t update it frequently enough. It’s virtually useless for Priority Courier packages.

Oh, and “Priority Courier” is a bit of a laugh. If it hits the mail too late in the day, too bad, it’s not going to be there the next day. Gimme a freakin’ break! Why would I fork out so much to courier something quickly if I don’t want it somewhere quickly?!


Anyway, onto the Mongolian passport. Prepare to have another $160 disappear from my poor bank account.

Two visas down, one to go

Lucky Amy only has to deal with two visas, both of which she now has. (One advantage of being an American, she doesn’t need a Mongolian visa. Canadians still do.)

Due to a typo at the Chinese consulate here in Calgary, I had to take my visa back in for correction. They did it on-the-spot, and they were super-helpful, but I was delayed a day sending my application to the Russian embassy in Toronto. According to Canada Post, it’s on its way back, but haven’t seen it yet.

The Mongolian Embassy in Ottawa states there is a 5-10 day turnaround for visas. That’s business days, by the way. We have 12 business days left. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for wiggling.

I haven’t quite yet begun to panic, though, as Amy found out that the Mongolian Embassy in Washington, D.C. will process Canadian applications, and turn them around in a day for only $30 more than here. I’ll probably do that for expediency.

Western Union picked up

So I just got an email that Olesya/Alexandra/Russian Girl Friday picked up the Western Union payment this morning, without problems I guess. Hopefully she’ll write tonight and let us know the final ticket arrangements as well as the FedEx tracking number. What a pain!

Some new resources!

Tamara gave me her Christmas present before I left Calgary last night. She
had a theme going! It was very cool. There were three wrapped packages,
which included:

Suddenly, I feel like a schmuck roommate/friend for giving her a t-shirt
and a couple of movie passes. Man, she totally outdid me this year.


Russian Language Course

Through the U of C… interested? (I think that link may not work.

Click on Languages, and Russian and you should be able to see it.)

Cost is $225, every Thursday night from Jan 27 – March 31.

Someone’s got to post here

Not that there’s been all that much time to plan, given that I’ve started
a new job and everything. OY!

But I had to post that the plane tickets are here! Get a load of this itinerary! We’re going to be exhausted before we even get to Russia!

April 29
6:30am – flight to Seattle arriving at 7:20am
10:20am – flight to San Francisco, arriving at 12:29pm
7:00pm – flight to London, arriving April 30 at 1:15pm

May 2
9:55am – flight to St. Petersburg, arriving at 4:10pm

So, as Geoff pointed out, at least we’re going to GET THERE.

I’m sitting at my desk in my home office right now and thought you might appreciate a peak at the little bookshelf I have set up in the window.

Something doesn't belong

Which one of these things is not like the other?

A lot of reading

One of the benefits of being on two Thanksgiving weekend flights is that I
get a LOT of time to read the nifty shiny new travel books. I had the LP
guide to Russia and China delivered to my parents’ house to save a few
bucks, and pretty much read them cover to cover over the weekend. Anyhow,
after the research, it looks like this would be a fantastic general plan,
if given unlimited time and unlimited budget:

St. Petersburg
Suzdal via Vladimir
Nizhny Novgorod
Omsk (?)
Irkutsk and Lake Baikal
Ulan Ude
Ulan Baatur
Beijing and The Great Wall
Chendgu and Area (incl. Leshan overnight?)
Lhasa (by air from Chengdu)
Hong Kong
Tokyo and area

This pretty much leaves us with no longer than 36 or so hours on the train
in any one stint, which is pretty different than expected. But after
reading, there are lot of plusses to stopping in these areas!

So, Geoff, shall we let the train schedules help us figure it out?

And we’re off!

There will definitely more to come, folks, so don’t get antsy that there’s
not a lot here yet. But the first official hurdles have been covered (at
least for me):

  • Leave of absence (actually, it’s now an unpaid vacation; effectively
    the same thing, but semantically different, business-wise)
  • Basic plan of attack
  • Airline tickets to Russia (thanks to Amy’s hard work!)
  • A lot of understanding from Alex, without which I probably wouldn’t be
  • This website!

Okay, yes, maybe that last one is stretching it a bit, but we really do
need this. When we’re on the road, we want people to be able to track our
movements. Certainly, if for no other reason than we probably won’t be
able to phone home from some of the places we’re going.

The train’s in motion now! Just wait to see what else comes next!