Visas and pickpockets, St Petersburg

We had our first (and hopefully only!) brush with pickpockets on the subway today – a couple of guys tried to take Mr K’s i-pod. He is my hero for managing to hold on to it, I’m sure if it was mine it would be gone along with my wallet, camera, and train tickets. Anyway, a bit of an adreniline rush and a good reminder to stay alert.

Also today we (finally!) have our Chinese visa. After everything we went through to get it (I have spared you the details – don’t get me started) it felt almost like an anti climax when they just handed our pasports to us and sent us out of the embassy with a “what are you waiting for” wave of the hand. Only the transit visa for Mongolia to go now and then we’re good to get on the Trans Mongolian Express next week. (Woo hoo!)

We also paid a visit to the quirky Kunstkamera museum, based on Peter I’s own collection of curiousities that he collected on his travels. We skipped the room full of deformed fetuses and severed hands in jars but they are a big hit with the locals (many of whom seem to bring their kids along), even so the museum still has a vague sense of the old fashioned freak-show, which not helped by what I charitably assumed were some poor translations from the Russian in the captioning. Unsettlingly, the fetus and body part collection (subtly called “first scientific collection”)  is heavily sponsored by Dutch institutions and funding bodies as the original collections belonged to Dutchmen renowned for their skill in preserving body parts.



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