Sunday, October 20

It's been awhile since I last blogged...interesting how time flies when your not having fun. Oh well! Right now for those that don't know...I'm in Russia...Moscow to be exact. Yeah funny how I've been sent to all these post-communist countries...they are so different compared to eachother....either within people's mentalities...their living standards...social lives...business...etc. But to tell you the truth...I don't think I will be returning to any of these countires...except for the city of Prague. Anyways...Moscow is a great city...completely different to what I would have expected. I mean all I knew about Russia were from the books, stories and movies hollywood portrayed about the country. You know...the red star...and the power of the hammer & sickel...that was the extent of my knowledge on Russia. Yet as soon as you enter the city (past airport and customs) you are amazed by the structures it has. For example, back in the day of Stalin...you know pre 1950...the communist baron (Stalin) wanted to show Russia's power and growth just like that of U.S of A...and what he felt was the best resemblance was by creating skyscrapers like those in America. So he had a total of seven buildings to be made towering over the city of Moscow as his OWN skyscrapers...man did this ever show that the man was nuts. First off all seven buildings...called the "Seven Sisters" look almost identical. Secondly...well they aren't really skyscrapers...their more like really large modern castles...I mean I went to visit one...which has now been turned into a hotel...called Ukraina Hotel...and we got to go to the top of the building and well it's cool....but not as magnificent as going to the top of the Empire State Building or Sears Tower. So anyways...it is still pretty amazing at the structures that are now being developed in this post-communist country. For those of you who want to visit Moscow...I would suggest during the spring or Fall terms...because right now it has already begun to snow and soon it will hit -25C which means my buttocks will be staying inside most of the time. Oh guess what...there's another thing that is completely absurd about this country...oh yeah...you know the negative connotations about mafia...red tape...corruption....etc. Well it's still all around...but not as obvious as Hollywood states. But for foreigners...you better watch out... especially those that LOOK like foreigners...the cops will stop you and ask for your passport. Actually let me explain first what this is all about...here in Russia the first thing you must do when you enter the country in the first 3 days is register yourself either at the airport...registration office of Moscow or at the location you are staying (most hotels will register you). However not everyone will register you because they do not want to pay taxes on you...so for example if you are coming on business...make sure your company pays for your registration...or make sure the hotel registers you...or that hte friend you are visiting finds a way to register you. Or else...well the cops will stop you and ask you for your passport...and if your passport does not have a registration stamp on...well your pretty much *!@&% because now they can do anything they want to you. And what else do corrupt cops want...well rather than 'supposedly' taking you in to the police station....they make you follow them a few blocks away from the crowds and people so that you can bribe them...or more so that they can rob you...in most cases you can pay them off with a couple of dollars...but now they are getting more and mroe greedy and the last group that stopped me I had to pay them off 30 bucks EACH! I mean come on...I could have gone to the police station and paid 8 rubles which is about 25cents or so to pay the penalty. But the cops will never EVER take you there...they will walk you around in circles until you pay them or they leave you limping. This has happened to me more than once...so it's not like it only happens every blue moon....'nope' for me...it happens maybe once or twice a week...but most of the time now I show them my CALI license and say "NIET PASSPORT" .... "NIET RUSKI"....."AMERICAN EMBASSY"....you take me....and this will go on for 15 - 20 minutes or so and they will get so frustrated that they leave me alone. But let me tell you...it's taken many chances before I had the courage to stand up to these corrupt bastards....

What else can I say about Moscow....oh yeah...about the mafia and stuff...supposedly they are all over...and the way to spot them is by their car...because here in Moscow there are cars with a blue light on top of the car...and usually those are diplomats or government officials...etc....but when you look at the license plate...depending on what color the license is...you can tell which ones are mafia and which ones are government officials (usually governmet officials have police escorts too). However...because the country is still pretty corrupt... everyone considers all government officials to BE a part of the mafia organization. Oh and prostitution is still huge....I will leave that story for another time..cheers!

Thursday, June 27

Ok so I promised curious that I would blog. So here goes...

Well I'm currently now in Slovakia...or Slovak Republic or the country next to the Czech Republic. It used to be part of Czechloslovakia... until 1993 after the Velvet Revolution (where Communism was dispersed and Central European countries were freed). The split up was due to political differences and also because of power. After the split, for some reason the development and proactive initiatives created by the Czech Republic outran the Slovak Republic and now we have one country (CZ) with over 10 billion USD of FDI being invested into the country this year alone and we have another country (SK) who is getting maybe a million USD. Why you may ask? Well for the simple reason the government blows...well that's what everyone here says. What I discovered is that this country is ever so backwards! It is not developing at all...I can't say it's an 'underdeveloped' country but it ain't no Prague! What's really weird is walking around and seeing these old ass communist buildings with huge number of apartments and chimneys and all them wonderful communist stuff...and then suddenly out in the middle of nowhere you see the Aupark, a FOUR story shopping with all the shops for a modernized city! I mean...come on...I understand it's nice having a multiplex...and a food court...and all the shops of the world...but who the hell is benefiting...how can people who are making 150 - 300 USD a month....3600 USD a year...able to afford to even go to a place like that! They say these types of developments will attract more multinationals and so on into the country...this will attract more foreign investment...my question is how the *bleeping* will that attract more investment? I mean I understand manufacturing plants, and industrial plants that are creating thousands of jobs and increasing exports...but a damn over-sized-over-expensive-art-deco SHOPPING MALL! Anyways...this country will definitely need another 10 years before it really develops to what Prague or the Czech Republic is today. That's my 2-bits on it...

Monday, May 13

Comment for today:

"Big scheme of things.....ha....just another man fooled into 'don't think for yourself!'...."

Monday, April 22

Did you know there was a European American Football League out here?! Well I didn't and we were invited to go check out one of their games on Sunday...the funny thing is that this is really getting hot out here...I mean the Czech National Team has a mix of half Europeans and half Americans playing!! How crazy is this...I can enjoy the game of American Football out here in Europe...too bad I have no team to root for...hear that the Czech Team sucks...and well pretty much so do all the rest.

Anyways...so we were suppose to check out Czech Republic vs. Austria...and we were told to go to Slova Stadium. So alright...we thought why the heck not...we need some Americanization right? Well who would have thought little 'ol Prague has about 20 damn stadiums... jeez and none of them were called Slova Stadium. We never made it to the game...and were quite disappointed...but supposedly they play every week so we will be going to next Sunday's for sure...I let you know how European American Football turns out... I ain't expecting too much...hehe...alright see ya!

Friday, April 19

Well I guess you can say Prague had definitely grown on me... there's actually a lot to do here, especially now that I'm starting to meet people and make some friends (yea yea shullup). So let me explain a skill that I think is really cool to pick up...pick-pocketing! Haha...I know its not the most ideal skill to learn, but let me tell you how this whole idea developed...

So one thing about this country is that it is a pick-pocketers heaven, especially with the number of tourists that go through this city each day. Everyday I would say at least 100 new people come into the city, which mean 100 pockets to pick. There's this one place where all the tourists seem to go, its called the Charles Bridge, and ALL tourist have to go and see it. Dunno what the major significance of it is...other than it allows walk from Old Town Center to the Prague Castle. Anyways...so there's this cafe near the entrance of the bridge, where you can just chill, have a coffee, and relax. And on this day my friend and I were sitting on one of their patio lounges just having a Pivo, and we noticed some cop suddenly grab a guy pull him over to the side and start yelling at him. Then all of a sudden the cop slaps the guy and continues to yell at him...finally after about 5 minutes of yelling by the cop, the guy hands over 'his' walletS...so I assume that was the last of the entertianment...but little did I know there was much more to this Czech's guy's activities. (Forgot to explain something about the Charles Bridge...there is this tower in teh beginning of the Bridge that everyone always stops to take a picture of...and all the tour groups look at up at it...which leaves them unaware of what is going on around them as they are concentrating so hard to listen to the tour guide...or take a picture...or just staring blanky at a black old tower). So after about maybe...10 minutes this guy walks toward a HUGE group of tourists checking out the tower...about a group of 35 people or so... they're all looking up admiring this spectacle of blackness..with a little trim of gold. This guy walks around in the group, around the group and so on....and I am totally wondering "What is he doing? Asking for money?" No no no...when he finally looped to the back of the group I noticed it much more clearly...he pretended he was part of the group...looking up at the tower with them...but at the same time he'd be reaching in and out of pockets...purses...what have...anything that was open. I think he was even able to open up zipper purses...but I'm not too sure...so I'm just in complete aw...laughing my ass off at all the tourists...but at hte same time amazed at this guys skill...After about 20 minutes...he's got a least 5 or 6 purses or wallets...I mean this guy hit the jackpot with this group....spaniards....fools! So once the group is done with their picture taking, and listening to the tour guide...they continue their way down the bridge, and the guy then begins to walk in the other direction. AND THEN...the same damn cop comes over pulls the guy to the side and starts to yell at him...and the next thing I know, the whole event I saw 30 minutes earlier, is happening all over again. Finally after about another 5 minutes...the pickpocketer...gives him the wallets and stuff and walks away. The cop then just disappears into a corridor. By that time I was totally like... wtf!...my friend just started laughing and he explained that the police here are all corrupt and they could care less about law enforcement. All they do is try and catch the pickpockets around here and take the stuff they stole so that they can pawn it off later! Well all I know...is no looking at the black old tower for me...

Anyways...I know I went on a big ol tangent, but hte point is the pickpocket was really really good...I mean...he'd stand right next to some guy...and pluck...the wallet would be in his hands...I really gotta learn that....hehe...ok enough babble....zhai jian...