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Unknown Russia and the Intricate Web

The Internet is an intricate web, sucking you in on many levels. It's the venue by which humans from all over the world meet new friends, make enemies, and even find true love. For a socially awkward person like me, it's a forum in which I can easily express myself through writing when words would otherwise be lost or less eloquent in real-life conversation.

For all the glory, there are many downfalls. As a blogger you quickly learn that the Internet, mixed with anonymity, is a recipe for large batches of stupidity. I think Russian forums are the most troll-infected in the whole universe. At first, it really bothered me - all the horrible messages, personal attacks, attempts to belittle me and my intelligence. Now I'm accustomed to it and have developed a much thicker skin. The other downfall is that it sometimes discourages social activity and conversation. How many times have you been at a social setting where friends are all on their phones rather than speaking to one another? I've even witnessed my younger cousins texting each other when they're sitting in the same room!?! So now I play a game with my friends at dinner. Everyone puts their mobile devices in the center of the table during the meal, and if someone reaches for it they must pay the entire bill. :) I seriously worry about the next generation's ability to communicate, as it appears the art of conversation is a dying form.

The best part of LiveJournal for me is communicating with interesting and intelligent people. They far outweigh the evil ones, at least on my blog. It was in this context that I met a unique woman named Daria Kurochkina, the operator of a project called "Unknown Russia."

Daria's project is a worthy endeavor, as it seeks to provide English language information about solo travel in Russia. Although your country discourages independent travel, there are plenty of people willing to go it alone. Unknown Russia offers a wide-variety of resources, ranging from visa logistics to photo essays about remote places and unusual events in the country. Even as a native, you may find many articles of interest. Daria is open to suggestions, edits to content and particularly needs more English language writers to contribute articles to the site. Here's your opportunity to share with the world what you love about Russia, its diverse landscapes, and unique culture. You can register as a user and submit your own articles on the website, or communicate with Daria to provide suggestions for improving the site. Suggestions can be put in the comment section here, or you can email her directly.

I will say that Daria is a kindred spirit, an adventurous and open-minded woman who has traveled extensively in Russia and abroad. She usually travels long routes via car, bicycle and even hitchhiking! Her hometown is Gatchina. After university, she worked as a software developer in St. Petersburg, became bored with office life, and then moved to Denmark to volunteer at a scout center. She now lives in Switzerland, where she's earning a Master's degree. All this travel taught her an important lesson - there are kind and friendly people in every country, willing to help strangers navigate through unfamiliar areas and cultures. Now Daria's mission is to "pay it forward," and help others discover the unknown regions and treasures of Russia. I commend her passion, as the site is truly a labor of love.

I encourage you to check out the Unknown Russia site, which is still in development. People often ask me where I want to travel next in Russia. For me, the ultimate dream is to visit Lake Baikal or the remote Siberian wilderness. How about you? What is your favorite region or place in Russia, and where do you dream of going?

You also can find Unknown Russia on Facebook and VKontakte. And don't forget to cast your vote for my next journey! Poll is open until Friday. :) Tomorrow I'll tell you about a beautiful farm in the hills of Vermont.



( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 10th, 2013 05:23 pm (UTC)
I think Russian forums are the most troll-infected in the whole universe.
Not necessarily. It depends where are you going. I am registered at several forums with strict moderation policy, and zero tolerance to trolls etc. But in general - yes, there are a lot of people who are taking advantage from anonymity. But I find this feature very useful - idiots never miss the chance to markup themselves. So your part of the job is easiest - just stay away from them. :)
Jul. 10th, 2013 07:18 pm (UTC)
I've only banned one person. It's against my core American principles to do so. Everyone has a right to speak, even if they're spewing stupidity. But abuse - no. I can only be called a bitch or cunt so many times! Plus, some of these users are real psychological experiments for me. :)
Jul. 11th, 2013 01:03 am (UTC)
Ough, madam is an anthropologist? Understandable. :)) Respect principles. )
I value the 1st amendment, but only until 1st abuse. After that - there is no place for democracy.
Only tyranny and anarchy! Like in any well-ordered household). :))

Edited at 2013-07-11 01:04 am (UTC)
Jul. 11th, 2013 06:14 am (UTC)
I've only banned one person
-were the core American principles broken one time ?
Jul. 11th, 2013 11:53 pm (UTC)
One time? No, this person continually harassed me in personal messages. A real jerk! :(
Jul. 12th, 2013 06:19 pm (UTC)
No I mean that if you banned this person (only ONE person), the core American principles ( a right to speak, even if they're spewing stupidity) were broken ONE time
Jul. 12th, 2013 06:20 pm (UTC)
Yes, it's true. I've only broken it once so far. :)
Jul. 10th, 2013 05:26 pm (UTC)
1. When we communicate in cafe or restaurants with my friends, half of them are communicating in social networks via gadgets, do not pay attention to others, and even, sometimes talking to each other on the Internet, staying in a meter of each other. It's terrible.

2.I was born in Krasnoyarsk and my favorite place obviously "Stolby" and Ergaki( in summer good for hiking, camping and sking in winter ). Find some pics it's amazing and beutiful places.
Jul. 10th, 2013 05:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you
Thank you a lot Shannon. I did not know that Im so nice person :))))

Vasya_spb: I found interesting place, about which I never heard before: the museum of permafrost in Igarka in Krasnoyarsk region. If you know this place, can you please check the article if the information is correct: http://runknown.com/underground-museum-of-permafrost

And also I did not know about Krasnoyarsk stolbu, knew only about Lenskie (Lena) stolbu. But I heard about Ergaki :))) It is also nice to educate yourself, to find new interesting places in Russia.
Jul. 10th, 2013 07:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Thank you
My pleasure! As an English speaker, I highly value the content and information on your site.
Jul. 10th, 2013 07:20 pm (UTC)
You should play the phone game I mentioned, and maybe you'll get a free dinner. :) I've never heard of Stolby, but just ran google images. Very cool with all the rock formations.
Jul. 10th, 2013 05:48 pm (UTC)
It is not even about trolls but general agression and intolerance to different point of view. Even forums where moms meet can be quite crazy. Been there, done that, no way I'm gonna participate. Let them eat themselves, I have much better things to do.

Have been wandering what American forums are like.

I'd love to travel more in Russia, but it is harder now with our toddler "in tow", so maybe one day when my country is more child-friendly I'll have my chance :)
Jul. 10th, 2013 07:24 pm (UTC)
I think American forums are generally more respectful, but large discussions usually occur on news sites, etc. where they have strong filtering policies. This way, the topics don't veer off course into racist or other intolerant rants. In America, we don't have a LiveJournal equivalent, so travel blogs are usually stand alone sites with very few comments (even on popular American travel blogs).

I'm not a parent, so I never really thought about child-friendly infrastructure, or lack thereof, in Russia. In what ways is it difficult? Narrow or unstable sidewalks for strollers, lack of elevators, escalators in public transit?
Jul. 10th, 2013 07:50 pm (UTC)
Oh don't get me started! :)
Poor sidewalks unsuitable for strollers for one,and it is hard in 99% cases to go down or climb the stairs e.g. In undeground walkways even where there are rails - they simply don't work for strollers. Can't imagine trying to conquer them with a pram, that's why I used sling wrap a lot.
It is getting better with high chairs and diaper stations though - but mainly in big shopping centers and big cities.
The transport is not suitable for strollers, too. Once my husband and I were trying to get on a trolleybus, our son in a pram - the trolleybus had a wheelchair sign on its door. When the door opened, we realized that it was next to impossible to enter - too high and steep and there was a hand-rail on the top of stairs.
Russia generally is not very child-friendly, mothers have to be alert wherever they go as to not bring inconviniences to anyone and not to anger people with crying baby or toddler, it definitely won't bring smiles or a helping hand.

I do hope that will change some day.
Jul. 10th, 2013 07:52 pm (UTC)
Interesting, thanks! In America, we just take these conveniences for granted.
Jul. 10th, 2013 07:10 pm (UTC)
I would recommend you Crimea. It's Ukraine, not Russia, but it's the most "russian" part of Ukraine. And very beautiful place.
Jul. 10th, 2013 07:26 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, I didn't get to the Crimean coast when I was in Ukraine. Hopefully next time and in response to your earlier message, no visa requirement here for American citizens. :)) It's more tourist friendly than Russia, but still severely lacking by European standards.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 10th, 2013 07:31 pm (UTC)
You read my Vyborg report? I don't know how I will ever get to the Baikal region unless I spend A LOT of money for some type of tour or guide. I've read about the Kamchatka region - stunning beauty there as well!
Jul. 10th, 2013 07:43 pm (UTC)
I wish I visited Pacific coast of Russia but I never were in eastern part of Russia. It's funny but probably I've seen more US regions rather than Russian))
Jul. 10th, 2013 07:45 pm (UTC)
And what's your favorite part of the U.S.?
Jul. 11th, 2013 09:59 pm (UTC)
My favorite state is New Hampshire and it is generally for its people. But there are so many wonderful spots in the country. I enjoyed Houston and Austin in Texas very much. It's very dynamic and diverse. And Austin has young population - students, musicians. And nature is interesting as well - millions of bats. And cool lake in hot summer time :)
I like DC - it's flat capital built on swamps - just like St.Petersburg))
I like NYC, it's never sleeps)) Probably Las Vegas never sleeps too, although in a smaller scale.
I drove through 34 states and I still have a lot to see - Maine and Portland, Florida and many other places))
Jul. 11th, 2013 11:52 pm (UTC)
Cool - 34 States! You drove through all these States during one trip? How long was your journey? New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont - I love all these places. Completely different pace of life there. I wrote reports on all these areas, probably before you subscribed to my blog. You can search the New England tag and find them.
Jul. 10th, 2013 07:41 pm (UTC)
PS. Just for fun. Found one video - "American tourists in russian museum". It's a joke. ;)

Jul. 10th, 2013 07:44 pm (UTC)
:)) I can't remember visiting any museums in Russia. Maybe we did? I was more concerned with walking around and looking at the people and the way they interacted with one another.
Jul. 17th, 2013 01:15 pm (UTC)
The sad thing is, many people in Russia believe that real Americans are just like that!
Jul. 17th, 2013 01:27 pm (UTC)
Yes, but you live here and know the truth. :)
Jul. 11th, 2013 03:50 pm (UTC)
I would say that the most beautiful place is an average stripe of Russia (not sure about correct usage « average stripe» but it’s somewhere within a radius of 400 km from Moscow). Probably there is something sentimental in it but being a moscowite in a few generations I believe this is a «true» Russia :)

Shannon I’ve got a question. Today I’ve read a sad story

But honestly I was not shocked the tragedy (shit happens everywhere) but this:
«Unlicensed daycare operators who look after more than five unrelated children under 10 can be fined up to $2,000 for each day that they break the rules.»

And it leads me to a thought, that all those nice and tolerant and law-abiding Americans Canadians Swiss are just ordinary people with theirs yin yang which means they are NOT nice and not tolerant at the same time. They are just living in a system where law and effective law enforcement whisper them day and night « just stumble and we’ll fuck you». What do you think of it?
Jul. 12th, 2013 12:14 am (UTC)
This is a very sad story! I'm not sure I understand your question? If the question is whether I think there should be fines for being an unlicensed daycare operator, the answer is yes. They're dealing with children, and should be required to comply with regulations governing sanitation, food prep, play areas, etc. If they don't obey the rules, they should pay a price. In America, there's a rule of law and people typically obey it. If not, you suffer the consequences. $2,000 a day seems high, but these operators are usually given a warning before they are fined so they have time to cure the problem.
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )


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