Gulags & Abandoned Cities & Diving
Our big vacation this year for almost 3 weeks involved going to Far East Russia (originally thought that was a part of Siberia but it is separate and further east) and then spending our last week doing some relaxing down time in Guam, diving and resting. Knew that the Russian part would be a bit arduous but just wasn’t sure how arduous or how much I could do with a bum hip and flaky knees. Was all a mystery on how much I could end up doing but I was determined to see as much as possible.
We have been traveling quite a bit, doing long weekends here and there and really overbooking ourselves, to the point of me just wanting to hole up in the house when I am home and not leave to do anything. Luckily in England this is quite possible as you can get just about everything and anything delivered! I love that part of living here plus I love my garden so I am quite happy to sit and read and watch the birds and squirrels and plants and other stuff. However, I had planned the week to get quite a lot done as we were leaving on Thursday night. This was not to be.
The weekend before, we had made a mad dash over to the Isle of Man to take a gander at the basking sharks. According to everything we read, this is the place to see them and this is the time of year to do it. I horridly put together a fast weekend getaway and we flew over on Thursday night a week before our Thursday night exit to Far East Russia. Was not a good start to get to the Isle of Man and once there, the basking sharks were swimming in gale force winds which meant we never had a chance to get out to sea. Good weekend but coming back on Sunday, I spent 4 hours in the bathroom Sunday night/Monday morning, being sick. I was so sick that I was exhausted the entire week and all the plans to do this and that and get ready and pack for our Russia trip just went out the window and I spent most of every day sitting on the bed reading and then taking naps. Finally, I hired a taxi (we use the same guy for everything) to drive me around to the surgery (doctor’s office) on Wednesday. I didn’t feel I was getting any better and I needed to be able to board a plane the next evening.
The doctor gave me a one-time dose of ciprofloxin on the off chance I had a bacterial infection. Took me 3 pharmacies to find it because no one had it in that large of a dose. I had asked the first pharmacy to give it to me in several pills to make up the dosage and they wouldn’t. Hmmm, did I look like the type to sell one ciprofloxin on the black market? Maybe so. The last pharmacy was more inclined to help me out and gave me the correct dosage in several different pills. Whatever the dosage or reason for my malaise, I was feeling 50% better by Wednesday night and enough better by Thursday morning that I felt it wouldn’t be a problem to leave as planned on our trip.
As we knew we were going to be far north, we planned on taking some warm clothes, plenty of mosquito repellent, hats, gloves, hiking boots (me anyway), one extra mat for sleeping (one camping night on the trip), and layers for mosquitoes and in case of cold. It really seemed like it would be cold on all the reports we saw. Plus the regular clothes and such that one needs on trips when laundry facilities are expensive or few and far between. Then we had our scuba gear! That took up another two bags. Luckily we had made arrangements already to leave our gear in Vladivostok as we wouldn’t’\t need it until getting to Guam.
Our taxi driver picks me up a couple of minutes late but he had texted me to inform me of such so I wasn’t panicking yet. These days I seem to panic a lot faster than I used to do. Don’t know why, maybe too much going on that is either time sensitive or expensive. Drove over to Farnborough to pick up my husband from work and we are off to Heathrow to leave on our adventure to Far East Russia and Guam and a long, long flight. We’re flying Korean Air business class. One time when I really blew out all the stops to afford this ticket but we were so glad we did in the long run because it was a lot of travel.
Checked in without a problem and got through customs without a problem and immigration and everything and then we have some time to spend in the lounge before boarding our flight. The lounge is rather crowded and again, I still don’t understand how large families can afford business class travel but then maybe they are also expats and the company is paying for it. Business class lounges have adapted to having more kids in them but they still don’t have a separate family section in most lounges. I don’t say anything out loud that these kids or those kids are being nuisances in the lounge but I did hear 3 other people complain about the kids in the business class lounge today. One man even went so far as to wander the lounge until he found a tiny corner far from any of the families.
Finally time to board and we head towards our gate and get on our plane and settle in for the long flight. I had actually requested a low calorie meal and it went through for all the segments that were Korean Air. Most of the time, I wasn’t even hungry enough to eat what they gave me, still recovering from the recent Isle of Man malaise on the first trip. My hubby was very happy to get some bibimbap (Korean rice meal with meat) on the first segment. We so miss living in Korea.
Watched a couple of movies, had my low calorie meal, and then tried to get some sleep. While the service on Korean Air in business class is wonderful, I have to say that they business class seats suck. They have all these controls that supposedly make the seat lay flat which I love and is a good reason to fly business class if you have to sleep on the plane but these seats did not actually go flat. What they did instead was go straight. At the very extent of the seat being made ready for sleeping, it put me at about a 25 degree angle. In order to keep from sliding down the chair and ending up in a heap on the floor, I had to keep the small shelf open on the foot rest and keep my feet pushed against it and pushing myself up. OK, I seemed to be the only one having a lot of trouble with this and I don’t know why but I could never get myself comfortable. We flew in these seats a total of 5 times on this trip and I never got the seat right or comfortable enough to sleep. Ah well, still much better being inclined for a bit than upright and crowded in the back. Love business class.