I love Russia. I love the language (despite a complete inability to speak it), I love the food (mostly at least, there are still the occasional moments where I go WTF as I stare in dismay at whatever it was I ordered) and I love the people. From the random kindness of strangers (no where else have I been given so many random presents, particularly of gingerbread, or my personal favorite, the guy in the bacco type thing in the picture below jumped out to give me an apple that he proudly declared to have come from his backyard) to meeting with people like Anna (from the previous post) and John and Stas, friends of Patrick’s from his first world trip.
But no relationship is perfect. Russia is not without flaws. I am not about to complain about the usual list of Russia’s faults, as on this trip we have experienced none of them. The police have not looked for any little presents for no other reason than we drive foreign motorcycles, the customs agents have not only been efficient, but flat out nice, even going so far as to smile at us and wish us a good trip (one even waved!), and the roads, well, the roads are not that bad. I would not recommend driving at night, but then I do not drive at night in Germany either.
No, what I do not love, what I can not bring myself to even care for, or to understand their very existence, are the roundabouts from hell.
Roundabouts should eliminate the need for traffic lights. So when I approach one that is in fact regulated by a traffic light system I want to smack my head a couple of times. Or at least I used to. Now I just thank the Goddess that there is some obvious system, because unlike other countries, where one rule dictates roundabout use, in Russia it would appear that each roundabout has its own rules. Sometimes the people in the circle have the right away, sometimes the people entering, and sometimes it depends on which part of the roundabout you are entering, as some even have a semi-circle on the sign which I can only take to mean that if you want to go straight, and there is a roundabout in your way, you have permission to run over any and all in your way.
Me, I have taken to entering them with my eyes closed. It makes no difference to my actual maneuvering in the roundabout, but it does let me avoid seeing how many near collusions I have. (Honking of the horn means nothing in Russia, it can mean get the fuck out of my way, but most of the time it means 6 arms are hanging out of a window and giving you the thumbs up and they want you to notice them. That you thought you had once again misunderstood the etiquette of the roundabout means nothing, or that you almost crashed your bike in an effort to avoid an imaginary collusion is just added entertainment value).
This, I have no idea what this was:
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