Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New York Visit

Before finishing up at work, my company was good enough to let me take one final trip "home" to New York (benefits of expat life), so a friend and I spent a week in NYC! It was fun being there as a tourist (since Katya hadn't properly seen NY before) , and while it meant I didn't have the chance to catch up with as many people as I would have liked to, James & I threw one of our parties, which was attended by 200 of our nearest and dearest (plus a bunch of randoms- better Feis Kontrol policy next time!)

It seems that 90% of our time was spent eating, taking advantage of New York's extraordinary restaurant scene, and ensuring that we'll never be able to appreciate a Moscow meal again!

It was great to see those of you who I did get to see, and I hope to be back in September for a friend's wedding!

Photos of the trip and party are here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Miss Gulag- Who's the sexiest inmate?

Continuing Russia's obsession with beauty pageants (see earlier postings), this week brings us the "Miss Gulag" competition, a pageant for inmates in a Siberian women's prison, where the winner of the annual pageant has the chance to win early parole (doesn't that sound better than a job with Donald Trump)?

One inmate contestant states that "A woman should always be beautiful, not just outside the fence. A woman is everything gentle and wonderful - or she should be."

"We wanted to find ways to occupy convicts' free time," says Natalya Baulina, the prison's administrative head (presumably not a contestant herself).

The prison decided to invent its own rules with three categories - "Greek Goddesses", "Flower Gowns", and "Imaginary Uniforms", which lets inmates design their ideal prison uniforms of the future. Many women have never heard of the Greek myths or exotic flowers they portray onstage, but they learn from books provided by the staff.

When the contest first began in 1990, supplies were non-existent. The winner made her dress out of plastic bags from the prison kitchen, but these days the women have access to hairspray, lipstick, nail polish, and all manner of female accoutrements not normally allowed in the prison (although presumably not stiletto's).

Source: BBC News

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hitting The Road- Cam's Travels Begin

So it's happening. I've quit my job and will spend 2008 on the road, travelling to the far corners of the earth.

My blog will keep my loyal readers posted with tales of my adventures and links to my photos as I go.

Where will I go? The journey will start next month, with a heliskiing trip to Kamchatka. After this I'll be trekking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, then Bhutan, en route home to Sydney, where I will spend a few weeks catching up with friends, and have put together a trip for friends of mine from all over the world to visit Australia while I'm there.

From Australia I'll swing through Thailand and/or Vietnam to visit my sister, and am thinking of doing a side-trip to North Korea if it's doable. I'll spend much of June in and around Russia, before visiting my parents sailing in Greece/Turkey.

I'll leave the boat in Turkey, travel through the region and down to Syria & Lebanon in July, then into Central Asia (in August, I know), and really get to know the Stans (Uzbek, Kyrgiz, Tajik, and Turkmen, to name a few).

After this, things get a little vague. My parents plan to visit Moscow in late August, and I have a few weddings in Germany, Croatia, and the US in early September. I'll plan some quality time in Moscow, and then probably hit Central America in November, and hopefully Africa with my family in December.

Eventually, I'd like to be back right where I am in Moscow when it comes time to revisit the working world.

In other news, I've redone my photo library to make it more flexible and easier to add pictures to. It's now searchable, although so far the links to various albums aren't in chronological order.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Back on the Newstands

For those of you who missed the launch of my modelling career which is destined to rocket me to Russian superstardom, my latest overexposure is in a 2-page advertorial in this week's Time Out magazine.

In a typically Russian story, I play the husband, who refuses to buy his wife a $10,000 Furla bag, so she has her lover buy it for her instead.

Russian Presidential Elections

While the Western media seemed to be in quite a frenzy over last week's Russian Presidential elections, and despite nauseating official countrywide entreatments that it was their "duty" to vote, most of my Russian friends didn't cast a ballot on Saturday, either upset that there wasn't any choice on the ballot, or simply safe in the knowledge that by Friday, the Kremlin would have already registered their vote for Medvedev anyhow.

In fact, with any potentially serious candidate barred from running, and with Medvedev receiving over seven times the media coverage of any of the candidates that were (the head of the Communist party, and a far right-wing nut-job), what's surprising is that he ONLY won 70% of the vote.

The Moscow Times ran a fascinating article Friday demonstrating statistically how voter turnout and preferences had been rigged in the parliamentary elections, and figured more of the same was in stock for Saturday.

As usual, I was fascinated by the election propaganda, and this time a 5-story billboard opposite the Kremlin caught my attention, with a huge Putin and Medvedev walking arm-in-arm. "Together, we will win" it cries (no kidding).