After living in Kazakhstan for two years between 1995 and 1997, I decided to return to the United States, and look for a job. I heard the economy was doing well, and good jobs were plentiful.
I wanted a little excitement for my trip home, so I took a train from Almaty, Kazakhstan to Moscow, Russia. The train ride was three days, and I shared a four bed cabin with a family. I slept on the upper bunk, and read the Bible for three days. I also watched the scenery from the window. Then people were constantly walking up and down the aisle bartering goods. I heard people selling beer, bread, home-baked goods, and lemonade all day long in Russian.
Moscow has five train station,s and three specialize in passenger transportation. The other two stations are for transporting goods. I never went through customs when I left Kazakhstan nor when I entered Russia. Customs officials concentrate on people, who transport goods to the markets. Since tax evasion is high in Russia, customs officials make sure people are paying the custom duties and also solicit bribes. People buy and sell goods, such as radios, electronics, telephones, and other small but valuable items in large cities, where prices tend to be higher than the country side. Then people would transport these items by train or bus to smaller cities, where the products would be sold for a profit.
The picture above is Moscow State University, which is the premier university of Russia. I have seen many pictures of this university in my Russian textbook. Consequently, I went to the campus and saw it for myself. It was quite a sight.
The picture on the left is what Americans call the White House, which is the House of the Russian Federation. Boris Yeltsin's government is here, and it is the same building that Yeltsin bombed in 1993, when communists tried to take control again.
Moscow is quite a sight. The city is 852 years old. I saw every possible style of architecture. I saw 500-year-old cathedrals, the Czar's style in the early 20th century, the early Soviet-style, such as Moscow State University, and the very ugly Soviet 1970's style. The late Soviet style is plain, boxy, and always painted in dull pastel colors. The picture on the right is Red Square. The Kremlin is the castle walls which surround the major government buildings. The Russian Parliament and high-level government agencies are on the other side of the castle walls.
St. Basil's is displayed on the left. This building is located on the edge of Red Square. It was constructed several hundred years ago under Ivan the Terrible's reign. The building was so beautiful, Ivan had the artist's eyes blinded, so the artist could never create such a work of art again. Russian culture has many great artists and scientists, but they lived under such murderous governments.
If you ever get a chance to visit Moscow, take it! It would be quite a sight. The only draw back is you have to speak Russian. Even in McDonald's, all the menus and tourist information is written in Russian. Unfortunately, Russians are not very friendly to outsiders, which is a hang over from the Soviet Union.
- The area of the country spans 6,592,800 square miles, making Russia one of the world's largest countries.
- The currency is the ruble.
- The capital is Moscow.
- In 1996, the population was estimated at 148,178,487, making Russia the 6th populous country in the world.
- This country has 1/2 the world's potential coal reserves and large reserves of petroleum.
- Russia comprises hundreds of ethnic groups, making Russia the most ethnically diverse.