Trip Report: Part 1: Backstory (or what I did on my summer vacation)

Hello from islands of Malta.

You are receiving this email because you are or were once subscribed to the cam-list, a discussion-style mailing list I have been maintaining for about four years now. I have re-purposed the cam-list to be a broadcast-style mailing list to keep my Web site readers, friends, and family up-to-date about my recent world travels.

Back in July I was in the midst of planning my Fall vacation schedule and was about ready to book flights to Las Vegas and Portland in September when I realized that I did not want to spend yet another vacation in the continental U.S. How boring! I mentioned this to my very good Russian friend, Irina in Brooklyn and she replied “Cam, you go to Siberia. You be the only American there.”

At first I was reluctant. I mean, who in their right mind goes to Siberia for vacation? But then I did some research online and the idea started to grow on me. I argued with Irina that I would have a lot of difficulty because I do not speak Russian and she countered with the name and Yahoo ID of her best friend Lena, who stills lives in Krasnoyarsk — a city of about a million people in south-central Siberia, just north of Mongolia. Lena agreed to be my translator and her years of studying English would help tremendously.

And so the plan was formed, as was a good friendship between Lena and I. Two months of chatting via Instant Messaging and numerous emails later, I embarked on my adventure in Russia with nothing more than two bags stuffed with clothes, some gifts, and my trusty-and-dented Titanium Powerbook G4.

Twenty-four hours of travel time later I arrived in Krasnoyarsk at 9:00 AM where Lena was waiting for me. I will not write much about this trip, but I will summarize it. Since I had hired Lena to be my translator I also needed her to travel around with me to the places I wanted to go. We visited Irkutsk, Lake Baikal, the Stolby Nature Preserve and a lot of Krasnoyarsk including a 18-hour overnight trip on the famous Trans-Siberian railway. You can view the pictures and commentary of this trip here:

After two weeks of bouncing around southern Siberia, it was time to return to New York. I arrived back to discover that the company I was working for as a contractor was planning widespread lay-offs, though I was to be spared — at least for the time being. But I smelled the smoke in the air and started making contingency plans in case I was suddenly became unemployed with no job prospects. It is no surprise my contingency plans turned out to be more world travel and some time off.

And I was right. I learned November 1 that my contract was to end November 15. This neatly tied into my already-planned November 21 departure date to spend two weeks in Malta.

The two week trip to Malta turned into 3 weeks with an additional week in Moscow, Russia. I wanted to see more of Lena so I invited her to come to Malta and be a tourist with me. She happily agreed and on November 22 I met her at the Malta International Airport, exhausted but happy to see me again.

Up next: Part 2: The islands of Malta and Cam learns how to drive a 5-speed Fiat Punto on the left side of the road.

Posted by Cameron Barrett at November 29, 2002 07:31 PM

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