Talking about life in Russia and what needs to be changed in the future w/ @DariStep
Hello my friends, welcome to my video. Today me and my friend Dari Step, hello hello! we will discuss Russian cities and traveling in Russia in general. And first we want to note the context when this video is being filmed. Today is February of 2023, and it's almost one year of the war with Ukraine that Russia started.
And of course we understand that in such an environment it would be really strange to like invite people to travel to Russia or speak about Russia ignoring all these things. So yeah, why we want to make this video is to kind of celebrate our memories from Russia because neither me nor Dasha can go to Russia because we're basically scared. Exactly, all we want is just to share our background and our history, our kind of childhood and teenager memories with you so you have a better idea what life was like in Russia before everything what's happening now. As you know now I reside in Georgia, as for Dasha, she has more plans... Yeah, just traveling from one place to another. Yes and recently we went to Batumi in Georgia, and this is where we got the inspiration for this video because we were comparing Batumi to different cities that we saw before and I was surprised to see that me and Dasha have different impressions and comparisons.
Butumi, what it was like for you and what you remembered when you look at the city? Actually it reminds me of Sochi, and by the way it's located not that far away from Batumi, so it was kind of obvious for me. Well, Sochi is the city in Russia or I would say better a region of Russia where Olympic Games were held. So now there is a big ski resort there which was very different from Batumi because it doesn't have it. But the sea coast, quite similar, and the towns and etc. I've never been to Sochi and in the South part of Russia.
That's why I compared Batumi to Vladivostok because I'm from The Far East, I was born in Primorsky Krai, it is a region on the very east south of Russia, Vladivostok is the capital. It is a port city, also you can see seagulls, of course ships, but it's interesting how different our impressions were. Actually, the far east I got in Russia it was Siberia where there is the Baikal Lake, and also Altai region. So I've never been to the far east and I don't have an idea what it's really like there. And now let's name all the cities where we both were. I visited of course Spassk, my hometown in Primorsky Krai, Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Veliky Novgorod, Vladimir and Nizhny Novgorod, what about you? Okay, I've been in actually many places, I've been in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kazan in Tatarstan, I've been in Siberia in Irkutsk and Ulan Ude, I've been in few cities in Altai region, also I've been in Murmansk, it is the northwest city in Russia, I also visited Karelia region next to Finland and some small towns surrounding, and I've been in many cities around the Golden Circle of Moscow, and some other towns which...
like I've been to so many places there, so to be honest, I already forgot all the names. You forgot the Caucasus. Ah yes okay and then Caucasus, I've been in all regions of Caucasus, Dagestan, Chechnya, also Kabardino-Balkaria and others, so I traveled quite a lot. Wow, I'm really impressed because yeah, my cities are like three cities, I think that I traveled in the United States more than in Russia, actually, but this is for another story. And there are some cities that I visited, and you too, for example, Vladimir.
Oh yeah. Is it in the Golden Ring of Russia? Yeah, I think so, and my relatives are living there so I spent all my childhood in the city. Did you like Vladimir? Well, when I was a kid, so basically I was just going to the house of my relatives, and I didn't really explore the city but few years ago I decided, okay it's time to change it. And it was actually when I started YouTube because I wanted to show the city to people, and I was surprised that there was almost nothing to see, basically there is just one street with few attractions and you can finish everything in two hours. And actually that's what I told Natasha about the city, and she didn't believe me.
Yes so when I was going to Vladimir, I asked Dasha about her impressions, and she said there's just one street, I was like 'no, probably this is a joke, there can't be just one street in this city that is worth seeing' but actually yeah, it's truth, there's this famous gate of some... knyaz, and yeah, there is a historical part of the city that goes along the street but nothing more. And I even went to a district with khruschovkas, where people live, where my relatives live, yes, and also I was sad that there is a nice small river in Vladimir, really old one, and they don't even have an embankment and it's because there's a railroad just next to the river, so they blocked the river from the city. Maybe there are some possibilities to change it but of course the Russian government will not do this. And you know what else I was surprised about? Vladimir is the part of the Golden Ring of Russia, and it is considered like the Russian history that you have to visit. And I lived in the far east, it is a region where everything is deteriorating, people are escaping from the far east, either to Moscow or abroad because, well, I saw only despair and sadness...
In my comments people often accuse me of showing only the worst side of Russia for purpose, but no it was literally what I saw around me, and that's why I had this assumption that maybe a city closer to Moscow will be richer than my region? But I was really unpleasantly surprised to see that Vladimir, it's like two hours by train from Moscow, yeah it's quite close, it's really close, and it is so poor. Yeah I'm so sad, exactly, the poverty. That's what I remember, because I also saw how people live there, how my relatives are living there, and I'm so sad because they work so hard, but because of the local salaries they can't afford anything, they even go to Moscow once a year because it's so expensive for them. So when you see this, I'm looking at Russian cities differently. For you guys, from other countries you might find this quite fascinating, like authentic, 'wow, all these shabby soviet houses' exactly, but from my side, I see poverty in this. So for me it's quite difficult to travel to such cities.
What is the average salary in Vladimir? Okay so it actually was 200 bucks, it is very low. One of my cousins earns 30,000 rubles which is 400 USD, and it's considered to be a very good a very good salary in Vladimir. Well, in my hometown Spassk, average, I think, is about 25,000 rubles (300 USD), but our food prices are more expensive than in the European part of Russia, which means that...
well, basically it means that people in Russia live poorly. What about Moscow, what is the average salary? Okay, so Moscow, it's so different, for example, one of my closest friends, you know her, she works in a vet clinic, and she earns 36,000 rubles which is 430 USD, she workes five days per week for 12 hours non-stop in the clinic, it's very low, I mean, only to get there she spends 150 dollars just for transportation per month, and they don't give her food or anything. And by the way, interesting thing that she has a new colleague now, who came from a small town Tula, and she was surprised how low salaries in Moscow were, because she was like 'Well, I approximately earned the same in Tula, yeah, a little bit less but I don't spend money for transportation, it's like 20 minutes to come to the clinic, and also I have a house there'. So even in Tula, if you compare all the prices and etc, she will earn more than actually in Moscow.
But on the other hand, salary in Moscow can be different, maybe 2,000 dollars, around 150,000 rubles, but it's a very very high salary. It's probably only the IT workers (and people in the government) who earn this, but now all the IT workers left Russia because of mobilization, because of their political position and so on. Yeah, I agree, I think, right now the average salary in Moscow, is 50-60,000 rubles which is like 730 USD approximately.
For Moscow it's really small. Oh yeah exactly, for example, if you would like to rent an apartment there, you will pay approximately a 40,000 rubles for one bedroom, so if your salary is 60,000 and you pay 40,000 for your accommodation, I mean, you only have money for food and transportation, that's it. That's why actually many Russians don't save money, they don't have any money for the 'black day', we call it like that. This is something to consider. Let's discuss other towns of the Golden Ring.
I actually really liked Kolomna, it's a very small town, when I was walking there, it felt like I was in the past actually, so it was very atmospheric, for half a day, I think, it's perfect. Another town which I like was Tula because actually they did some renovations for its embankment, it was very enjoyable to walk there, also they made a wall with some historical figures, so it was very interesting for me to take a look at this. But to be honest, Natasha, overall when I was traveling in the towns of Russia, they all seem more or less the same for me, because obviously there is a church, probably Kremlin, all the houses are approximately the same.
The only city which I actually like was in Tatarsan, it's Kazan, oh my God guys, it was such a great combination of churches and also mosques, there is a gorgeous mosque just in the middle of the city right next to its Kremlin. I really liked it because it was finally something new and interesting for me. And another city which I really liked was Ulan Ude because I'm actually a very big fan of Buddhism, and in Ulan Ude there you could see some Buddhist temples which is also very different from what I'm used to, and that's why I also like it. And another fun thing about Ulan Ude which actually makes the city so unique is a huge giant head of Lenin in the main square of the city. When I saw this, I'm like 'oh my gosh what is this?' I also saw a statue of Lenin in Veliky Novgorod, in that great historical city, they placed it there... and okay, this is the part of Soviet history, but...
Yeah, not a fan. So you mentioned Kremlin and you said that in every city they have Kremlin, and we actually discussed it before, and Dasha was surprised to learn that in Khabarovsk and Vladivostok we don't have a Kremlin. Oh my God, it's like total shame on me guys, because I am honestly so used to kremlins that I was thinking they are in all around Russia, which is actually wrong.
And on the contrary for me it was so funny to even think about a possibility to have Kremlin in Khabarovsk, because what is 'kremlin', it is a word for an old fortress that was surrounding ancient Russian cities, like in medieval times, and as a child, I thought that there's only one Kremlin, in Moscow, but now I know that there are kremlins in Tula, also in Tobolsk and etc. Probably the last one was built in Kazan, it dates back to the Russian history, when Ivan the Terrible was conquering territories to the East and he achieved Kazan. But it's interesting that when they started to conquer Siberia, there were fortresses and maybe some of them did not remain to our days.
When I was a kid, we had some tours to Kremlin and everywhere, so since my childhood I've seen kremlins everywhere, but it's not, you live you learn every day. Yeah and also it's unusual that our cities in the far east are so young. That's why that's another reason why we would not have a Kremlin because, well, I remember that Spassk was founded in the year of Coca-Cola drink foundation, oh my God, yes, it is a very young city compared to the other part of Russia.
And actually, discussing age of the cities is a big issue because in Russia we even have a holiday which is called the 'City Day' or the 'Birthday of the city' and normally it is celebrated every year, so when I was a child, in Spassk we basically had only two celebrations that gathered all the people and that the city administration gave money for. So it was the City Day and the 9th of May, of course, but that's another story, yeah we will not discuss, yeah we will not discuss it. And also Komsomolsk-on-Amur is even younger, it was built in the 30s of the 20th century, so we have young cities.
That's crazy to think about that because Moscow was founded in 1147 by Yuri Dolgorukiy, and it's almost a thousand years, and most cities in my region that old and even older, so when Natasha is telling me that the cities are like 100 years old or something, I'm like 'oh really, wow' One more city that we both visited is Nizhny Novgorod. What do you think about it? Yes I think I like this city a little bit more than some other cities in the Golden Circle, but again I'm not a fan, like there is just nothing so special for me there, of course history about all Russian cities in this region, they're very historical, so again churches, Kremlin, like one walking street there. The only thing that I liked, it was embankment. The river was huge, and I think it was built quite lovely.
I was there for a music festival, so I didn't spend that much time in the city, which was good because I think I would get bored. I would say for one day trip it's fine but I wouldn't like to stay there longer, what's actually very interesting because many people from Russia, who are not from Moscow, they really like this city. And they were telling me 'Oh such architecture, atmosphere' but... Maybe if you would come, who were born in a completely different environment, and cities and culture, you might find this fascinating. Well as for myself, who were born in Moscow, I'm like okay...
'Big city girl' Oh yeah, big city girl, you know these stereotypes. Yeah we have jokes in Russia about Moscovites that they think too much about themselves, and every other city is bad for them and etc, and I don't know what else, you tell me. I also had this stereotype, I thought that people in Moscow are richer, that they have more money which is maybe true because your salaries are higher, but it doesn't mean that people in Moscow live better, because also the prices are higher. And I thought that people there are rich, they can go abroad, but when I met you and you told me your story, I realized that it was all stereotypes.
For example Dasha told me that her school was one of the worst in the in the district, while I thought that 'wow, all schools in Moscow are with good teachers, with good English education" Oh yeah, I think we had absolutely the same, because we were discussing schools and we realized that problems are absolutely the same in all parts of Russia. Yeah maybe there are some good schools in Moscow, but I was going to the simplest one next to my house, and actually by the rates it was the worst school ever. We had some people taking cocaine in the toilet, smoking, or sorry, masturb@ting in class, and that's why I think it's all the same in Russia.
We would probably be ready to make another video about that and discuss our traumas, but let's return to districts of Moscow. Yes, and worth to say that, yes I'm traveling a lot, but I'm the only one from all my friends circle who travels that much, because I'm just spending all my money for traveling, without buying much stuff to myself, but it's not normal for a typical Moscovite to travel that much. Yeah remember you told me about the company of friends that you had at 17 and that the only thing they were interested in was to go to dacha, the country house, and just drinking, and they were not even interested to travel, and they were surprised when they learned that you want to travel. Yeah that was so crazy for me because they were discussing like 'okay if I had to choose between either going to dacha, to a countryside, but never go abroad or the opposite, only go broad and never go to dacha, I would choose dacha'. I was like 'how is it even possible, like why don't you want to see the world, like it was crazy for me', and that's why since 18 years of mine when I legally could travel, I started traveling as much as I could to explore our wonderful country, but again this is not very normal for a typical Moscovite, usually we don't travel that much.
I also wanted to add about Nizhny Novgorod. I went there one year ago and I made a video about that in my channel. It was interesting for me to learn about this city, because I'm not a local and I purposely read Wikipedia.
And it's interesting that at school, you know, Russia is very centralized, so in history lessons we learned only about Moscow. So all the history of Russia was like taking place in Moscow, I mean, all the decisions were taken in Moscow. It was interesting to read how events of the Russian history were reflected not only in Moscow, but in Nizhny Novgorod, which was considered probably a province city back then in the 19th century in Moscow.
Also they have some famous people like Maxim Gorky, the Russian writer who was born there. In the Soviet times the city was even called after him, Gorky. You know, the Soviets really like to give ugly names to cities, what else? Saint Petersburg was named Leningrad, Volgograd was Stalingrad... And as I said, living in the Far East, I thought 'Okay, I live in poor conditions here in the Far East, nothing is developing, but probably the closer to Moscow the better? So I was expecting that cities around Moscow, and Nizhny Novgorod, again, is really close, it's like four hours by fast train from Moscow, in my measures it is fast, I expected it to be like Moscow but smaller with the same nice service. But what I realized that Nizhny Novgorod, is like another Khabarovsk, gray buildings, 80 years old buses, and it is so sad.
Yes, I think this is the mistake everybody from the far east and from Siberia are making: no matter how close the town is to Moscow, it doesn't improve the living conditions anyhow. I think the cities that are quite developed and unusual and unique are Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and I would say Kazan, because it's big cities. they're different between each other, great service, and also look very interesting, and many things to do there. Yeah I would add about Kazan, it's because they have their own oil, and they are trying to be more independent because, you know, Tatarstan was basically conquered by Russia, many years ago, and now they have their own president, and his title is 'president', even though recently the the Russian government, like the one in Moscow, changed this title from 'president' to 'rais'. By this you can see how Moscow is trying to suppress the independence of other regions, their self identity. Yes, exactly.
Well what about the Far East, the cities there? Well, basically it's like another Nizhny Novgorod but just surrounded by forests, because you know, Far East is a really huge territory, it is like one third of the whole Russian territory and it's not densely populated like the western parts of Russia. Yeah so Khabarovsk is a city with 600,000 population, Vladivostok is the same, both of them are located on the different sides of the last segment of the Trans-Siberian Railway, and I made a video about this, how I was going from Khabarovsk to... well, not Vladivostok but Spassk, but it's close.
So the train from Khabarovsk to Vladivostok will take you 13 hours, and for me it's fast. Wow, we have completely different ideas of what the fast train is. For example, we've been just flying to Uzbekistan, and it was three hours flight, okay, well not that short but okay, and Natasha was like 'oh my God, that that was so fast' I'm like 'Oh, really?' Yes because when I was flying from Khabarovsk to Moscow, it took me eight hours by plane. And children in Spassk have only two ways, well, three, either to marry at the age of 18 and give birth to like 30 children or to go to Vladivostok or Khabarovsk to study in college. Well, the smartest or the richest ones go to Moscow to study. It would be logical for me to go to Vladivostok but I went to study to Khabarovsk.
Later I regretted that because, in my opinion, Vladivostok is more developed, it is a port city, and the pace of the city is different because people are moving faster, and it is a very hilly city. And, well, the drawback is that there are always traffic jams, many cars, only Japanese cars because Vladivostok is close to Japan, and yeah it's very unique. Yes Natasha, you're saying so many interesting things about Vladivostok, and I really wanted to visit it, I badly wanted to explore the far east of Russia and... Not anymore :) Not anymore, like maybe in 10 years, and actually before the war started, last year I was thinking I'm gonna take a Trans-Siberian train to Vladivostok and we're going to meet there. But I don't know how it would feel for me because I'm not a huge fan of trains, but I think once in a lifetime you must do that.
Actually when I've been studying in England, I had a teacher who did the Trans-Siberian, and he said he was shocked, he was like 'I came there, a there was a Russian group of men who invited him and they'd just been drinking vodka every day for seven days in a row. He was like 'In three days I already could understand nothing, where and what I'm doing, with who I am...' But he started to understand Russian because of vodka... No, he said it was a lifetime experience but he would never try this again. You should watch our channels and stay with us for another 10 years to see, and in 10 years when Russia is free, Natasha and I are going to take the Trans-Siberian Railway, or maybe we will try one from Moscow and you will try one from the far east, and we're gonna meet somewhere in the middle.
That's gonna be fun. Also when I'm thinking about the Far East, it's very fascinating for me to imagine that actually China in Japan are so close. Because for people from Moscow these countries are so far away, and it's uncommon for us to go there. But my mom was a flight attendant, and she's been to China for so many times, and I remember she was bringing so much stuff from there, because we've been living very poor when I was little girl, and we didn't have money or anything to buy there in Moscow, so for me China, I don't know, it's so interesting.
And when Natasha was telling me that she has been a few times in China, I'm like 'wow, China, you've been in China, that's so cool!' but you have absolutely different feelings about that. Yeah, well, the way I went to China... I don't know, it was not illegal, but... I will tell the story.
So for us in Primorsky Krai it was really easy, it's like eight hours by bus to go to China, and why we go there was basically for shopping. Because there is a town called Suifenhe, and in the 90s it was just a village but for 20 years it developed to a very densely populated city. And basically the whole city looks like a market for Russians.
And it's so funny, it's such a meme, you can see shop names both in Russian and Chinese. But if they are in Russian, oh my God, they are called like 'Natasha Dasha fur coats' or 'Dima tea'. So basically they take the name of a person and some item. It is so funny, sometimes they make mistakes... I mean it can seem quite atmospheric, authentic, you know, all this stuff.
And I went there when I was a teen, I was first 12 and then 14. I went there with my mom for like three days. And we ate all this tasty food, even though I think it was really adapted for Russians, yes we bought these cheap clothes, and actually when we went back, there was some interesting thing. Because we went there as a tourist group, so basically, because the voucher to go to to China was so cheap or even free for us, I don't remember...
Free? You could go to China for free? You could go to China for free but then on your way back you have to carry heavy 'bauls', bags with clothes, when you're going back to Primorsky Krai. And at the customs they would ask you 'What is that?', and they open all your big bags with all the items that you see for the first time, and you have to say 'Oh, this is for my aunt, this is for my brother, my relatives...' So what we were doing, we were just helping a merchant who was avoiding taxes that you have to pay when you are transferring goods through the border.
So we were pretending that these were our big bags, and I remember that each person had to carry about 50 kilograms. 50? Five zero? Five zero kilograms, yes. How could you bring it, like you was tiny? Well actually what we did, my mom paid for my voucher, but she still had to carry that, so I helped her a little. This is how we traveled. But then actually in 2014 it became unprofitable for Russians to go to China because the Chinese currency, yuan, before was equal to just 4 rubles, and after 2014 it was equal to 10 rubles, so that it basically became unprofitable for us, and what happened back then? Well we all know what happened in 2014. Yeah and it's interesting that when I was a child, I didn't even realize it, and it seems that my mom even doesn't realize that still.
She doesn't understand that it's connected to Crimea and the sanctions. Also if I'm not mistaken, the dollar also became expensive for Russians? Yes so before 2014, one dollar was equal to 30 rubles, after that it rose to 70, and now it's still there. Yeah, it went very up, then it went down to 60 rubles, and then it was growing year by year, but then approximately it became 70 rubles, which then was for a few years like that. Well Natasha, I would say that actually Moscovites also don't really connect the Crimea crisis with the increasing currency. I remember 2014, I was 15 years old, I was telling 'mama, let's buy dollars, let's buy them!' She was like 'no', it became forty at that point, she was 'oh, it will return back'.
Well mama, I was right at 15 years old. Yeah, so for me China was not the Great Chinese wall, and I did not see all these big cities, I saw only that part. That was how I traveled to China. But it's for Japan and South Korea, people often think that it is really easy, especially foreigners, they think that I go to Japan on ferry or to South Korea, and I am so upset and even pissed off because it's not like this.
Our people are so poor, we leave literally one hour flight from Japan, in Vladivostok, for example, but only probably three percent of the population of Primorsky Krai travels there. I think even less. Yeah because, well, first, you need a visa to Japan and South Korea, and also it is just expensive. That's what I'm always explaining both to Moscovites and foreigners, that life in Primorsky Krai is like life in another poor Siberian village or even Vladimir or Nizhny Novgorod. I think if Russia was more democratic and open to other countries, we would have connections but no, I've never been to Japan and... I mean, I kind of understand this because Moscow is also located close to some European cities and almost no one is visiting them, because again it's expensive.
I think for Far East people it's more pricy to go to Japan or South Korea or China, maybe China not that much, but Japan and South Korea. But for Moscovites it's also very expensive to go to Europe, again you need visa, it's difficult to apply, it also costs money, so yeah, I have an idea what's like there. Well, we discussed the cities where we both visited but I've never been to the South part of Russia and the Caucasus. Can you share it? Okay so this is completely different Russia, because Chechnya or Dagestan are so different from the Far East or Moscow, and their religion. So it's Muslim countries... Countries? Maybe one day...
Well, it's Muslim regions, so you can see there a lot of mosques, and also if we have kremlins in the part of Russia where Moscow is located, there they some towers which you can see in the mountains. It's usually one or a few towers, and there were also built for the protection purposes. But the nature there is so fascinating, the mountains, food is actually very different, and also the region is not that big comparing to all Russian regions.
But if you travel from one place to another, the mountains are different, the food is already different, people, and also cultures, because for example, North Ossetia is mostly not Muslim, while Dagestan and Chechnya are Muslim. So you can see a big combination of cultures, oh my God, that's so interesting, and many people were telling me that it's dangerous for women to travel there. I felt okay, but every time, worth to say, I was with some guys, so I wasn't a solo female traveler there.
But I loved it, Natasha, I think one day in 10 years you should come to visit. The cities, to be honest, nothing so special, I would say. I didn't spend much time in their cities but I did explore the region, some mountain places, or lakes, oh my gosh, it was so nice. What you were describing now really reminded me of Georgia. You said the mountains, not so much space, great food, and I just realized that Dagestan or some other republics of the Caucasus are really more like Georgia than the rest of Russia. Exactly, absolutely right, and actually if you take a look at the map, they're like located quite close to each other, so yeah it's quite similar to Georgia.
And as you said, even though these regions are so close to each other, they're so different. I don't know how many different peoples and languages and different foods... And for me, because again, living in the Far East where there are big spaces, I thought that countries and regions that are close to each other, they're basically the same, but you said that like in Kabardino-Balkaria there are one types of mountains, then in Dagestan they're lower or something like this. Yes, and also about the level of education and behavior for men.
For example, if you're traveling to North Ossetia, people there are quite educated, you have a very nice conversation and it feels really like okay, you're in more or less developed place, but for example when you travel to Ingushetia, people there are so conservative and close-minded women, there like not people actually, like it's just 'women', and there is 'men, people'. So there, by the way, I didn't feel so much comfortable, and some friends of mine told that some of their men just got drunk, Ingush men, and try to go to Russian girls, like this is crazy, but in the other regions you won't see it like that. And also speaking about the environment and the garbage, for example, I've been in Dagestan, I've been traveling in the mountains there, and there was so much garbage that I was so shocked very unpleasantly, but when I was traveling around Chechnya, it was very clean. Well, I think, that the stricter the regime, the less there are trash in the streets and the less criminals there are, because maybe all the crimes are happening somewhere underground or in the government, you know... yeah we are not going to tell about this, yeah because
we really value our lives. And I think we should note that region of the North Caucasus are really dependent on Moscow in terms of money. I don't know why maybe to keep them loyal to the center of Russia, to Moscow. But I wish these regions could be more independent, could develop tourism and be more for themselves and not for Moscow, but if I say something more, by the Russian criminal code it would be considered a crime because then I would 'call to separatism'.
Because in Russia if you say, for example, 'I wish Primorsky Krai could be a separate country', you can go to jail because it's like you are facilitating separatism. Oh my gosh, I didn't know about that, it's that strict to be honest? But if we already started talking about the Caucasus, I think if you're traveling there, it's not really about traveling to the cities itself, because I didn't like it that much, but the nature, ancient villages there, just oh my gosh, I remember some super ancient village in Chechnya mountains, it was amazing, and you get this vibe as if you are in ancient times. And I remember when we were discussing Kamchatka, you said that...
What is more what is more attractive about Kamchatka for you? Oh my god, ocean, I would like to surf there, I never tried it before but I will do it, doesn't matter how cold the water is, I will do it. Black sand and gorgeous volcanoes, I really want to take a helicopter trip because it's the only way to explore this region, and to explore some volcanoes there, and also there are some few days hiking trails to the volcano on the top of this,, I also want to take it, and, yeah, maybe to eat caviar. Dasha was so inspired about Kamchatka, so that our camera just died, so now we are filming it with another phone and the color is different, but yeah.
But at the same time you have a huge experience of traveling in Europe, how many countries, 20, you visited? In Europe, I don't know, maybe more. When you go to Europe, well, not anymore, I hope you will... I hope, so I hope, so don't tell me, don't freak me out. Yeah but when you were in Europe, did you like only the nature or you like the city more? Actually, 50/50, and if in Russia I like 90% of nature and then 10% of cities, here it's absolutely 50/50. Because European cities, you know they're so cozy, comfortable, interesting and unusual, for example even if you take Italy, Milan and the North part is so different from the South, but in Russia you can't say it that much because more or less it looks the same, yeah that's why I like Ulan Ude in Russia, because it was different, that's why I like Kazan, it was different. And also why I don't like traveling in the cities in Russia because, again, I see poverty.
I want to cry, I'm sad for people, because I've seen how people live there, but you don't have these feelings when you're traveling in the European even small towns, because you already can understand that probably level of life there is way way higher than somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Russia. So that's the thing Natasha, when I'm traveling in Europe, I don't feel so sad for people so that it destroys my impression, like when I'm traveling in the Russian towns. Yeah I've never been to Europe still, but I saw videos from European villages, and I was like, wow, village is not always a destroyed forgotten place with shabby houses, one cow and one drunkard who beats his wife and mother? Maybe for people in Europe, the the Western world in general, our life in Russia is aesthetic, but if you live there, in this nine-storey khruschyovka... I hate this, I was born in such place, I'm seeing it from my nightmares that I will continue living in this when I'm older. It's super hot in summer, and also when it's raining sometimes water gets into the house.
Literally, once I cried when I woke up because I had a dream that I was growing my family in this place. So yeah, you're right. You guys, when you're traveling to Russian cities, you find this authentic, very unusual from the place where you live, but everything I could think of is how actually poor the people are, they're not really smiley, they're probably not that happy as they could be. Sometimes I get comments, when I speak badly about all these khruschyovkas, "but at least this is affordable housing that people can afford". People can afford nothing, I'm so sorry, I'm getting so emotional after these comments, I can imagine you too, like people live super poorly in Russia, they can't afford almost anything.
These poor apartments are being transferred from mother to daughter, to granddaughter and etc, because people can't afford nothing else. And sometimes people take huge mortgages that they pay out for 30 years just for one bedroom apartment in khruschyovka. I know that in the United States, let's say, people also take mortgages but the percentage, the interest is way lower, I think three times lower, and you actually get a nice house. While in Russia you get this...
So what I would like to answer to such people who say 'but at least it's affordable and simple': you know that if there was a better environment and regime in Russia, if people had more money, they would demand houses like in Europe, like in Scandinavian countries, there they are also building multi-store apartment buildings but the maximum is like five floors, and they look much better than Russian ones. Yeah, and in Russia what they're doing now still, they're building ant houses, no infrastructure. So what I want to answer to such people is that actually it's not affordable, it's not simple, blah blah blah, minimalistic, no it's just poor.
Let's talk on maybe how it can be improved? Yeah, I was trying to promote tourism in my country before the war, obviously right now it's not the time. How the country thanked you for this? Yes, well, let's not think about that. But I noticed that there are not so many names of streets doubled in English, and I think it can be a big problem for tourists. Worth to say, by the way, in Chechnya, in Grozny, the main city, they're actually doubled in English. I was so surprised. But why?
It's probably the place where foreign people are scared to go the most. Yes, but well this is the fact, and if more and more streets were doubled in English, and also when you're riding a bus, if they also pronounced streets in English, which they don't do now. Natasha and I really wish that when our country is free, the government, the new government will start to develop the cities and also their cultural identity, Natasha, could you please share your impressions about this. Yes, I wanted to say that there is no cultural code of the city, because for this you need to hire urbanists, architects, to understand what is so unique about our place, how we can attract foreigners? You know, when I was growing up in a Primorsky Krai, in Spassk, I was seeing only these gray buildings around me.
But once I read some literature about history of our region and I realized wow, we have such unique nature, animals, the Amur Tiger, wow, it is so interesting, why nobody is talking about this? The only thing I see is Moscow on the TV, and that's it. And I was so sad, probably that's when I started to ask questions to the government, like why they're not doing something to improve it? Because they only send money to wars, because you know, Russia has commodity economy, they just take gold, oil, and gas, they don't care about improving the so-called human capital. So they don't even care that, us young and smart Russian people leave the country, they don't need such people like us. Well, I think that cities development is not the most important thing that the Russian government will have to think about when the Russian government will become democratic, I hope. We don't know when it will happen, in 10 years, in 20 years but the first thing they will have to do is to pay operations, yeah, pay reparations to Ukraine, to correct all their mistakes that they did, and only then things will start change, I mean, in Russia and in Russian cities, and tourism will flow to Russia, and... Well, I don't know, it's difficult to talk about tourism right now, I can't really imagine it at the moment but hopefully in 30 years when everything is going to change... 30 years,
oh my God, people in Western countries are like 'what are they talking about, it's like the whole life!' Exactly, well the level of this poverty will decrease and more people will have money and at least some normal standard of living. Yes, well, that's it, we hope that you enjoyed our conversation because we really enjoyed discussing it to be honest. So subscribe to Dasha's channel, Dari Step, she makes great videos. So Dasha, now when you are going to your next destination, what your videos are going to be about? Well first of all, there are going to be more videos about Georgia, then videos from Uzbekistan, then I will show you a little bit of my life in Russia, because of family issues I need to come back, hopefully not going to jail there.
I will post this video probably after that. Yeah, so probably you will see this, then actually there are two two choices, I will try to get the Schengen visa and to move to one city in Europe which I am actually interested in and I had quite an interesting story there, or if I'm not getting Schengen visa, I'm gonna move to Asia and travel from country to country. Well that's it, thank you so much for watching. Yes, thank you, goodbye, poka-poka.