Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Top 10 Misconceptions About Russia

       Thinking of embarking on a trip to Russia? I won’t be surprised if your answer is a solid “No”. I get it. A lot of us have certain misconceptions about the country. I’ve lost count of raised eyebrows I met when telling people that I live in Russia. People are still associating Russia with communism, war, Mafias, and everything intimidating. Due to some political conflicts, some countries even listed Russia down as an unstable destination. Moreover, thanks to certain media and some Hollywood movies, the image of Russians being badass villains adds to the blunder.

       These unfounded misconceptions sadly mask the beauty of the land and the warmth of the people. Hence today I am sharing this article and hopefully, this will make you more comfortable with the idea of visiting Russia.
       Here are 10 top Misconception about Russia that I felt everyone with or without plans to visit Russia should know. Let’s start debunking some ridiculous myths.

1. Russia is unsafe

It’s absolutely safe to visit Russia. The horror stories you’ve read online are probably outdated. Compared with some other part of Europe, where tourists are constantly targeted by street scammers, in Russia I feel absolutely more comfortable roaming the streets, even when I am alone.  

2. Russia is just a vast country with uninspiring Soviet buildings

Yes, you will still find those monotonous buildings from the Soviet days, but that is not all! Set your foot on the Red Square in Moscow, and you’ll immediately know the claim is completely unfounded. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. 
Other than that, don’t just visit the capital or Saint Petersburg! Make it a point to check out other cities such as Kazan, Sochi, Murmansk, Volgograd… and some towns along the Golden Ring Road. I guarantee, that you’ll be blown away.
A post shared by Vivian Dominique Lee (@littlemisshappyfeet) on

A post shared by Vivian Dominique Lee (@littlemisshappyfeet) on

3. Russians are cold blooded people 

It’s true that they are not smiling people. People in the service sector, for some reason, looks especially grumpy. If you come from countries like America and Canada, I can totally understand the culture shock you faced. But, keep in mind, they have nothing against you, it’s just that they don’t simply smile without a good reason, because that is what drunk people do. Try to initiate conversations and create engagement… then you’ll see that they are warm and sincere as well.

4. Visa is hard to get

I admit that the Russian Visa is not the easiest to get, but it is not the most difficult. Just compare it to the procedure of applying for an American Visa: In order to get a US Visa, you’ll have to undergo a one-on-one interview, reveal your bank statement and a prove that you will return to your home country. To get a Russian Visa, on the other hand, the most nerve-wracking part is just the invitation letter and the waiting period. For Malaysians, just follow the step by step guide I’ve written to get your Visa done independently. Alternatively, hire an agency to take care of it. Then viola, problem solved.

5. You can’t find good food in Russia.

It’s true that you’ll encounter some sort of bizarre food that you’ll never want to put near your mouth. But, if you are adventurous enough, you’ll find that Russian food is actually delicious. Just keep your mind and pallet opened!
Read more: 
10 Bizarre food you must try in Russia
10 Traditional Russian Food that is Surprisingly Delicious
10 Must-Try Russian Desserts

6. You won’t get lost as long as you have Google Map

Oh no, wrong. I found that the google map for Russia is not up to date. They are missing information about the shortest routes and public transport BIG TIME. Some of them even show transportation route that doesn’t exist anymore. This often frustrates me, especially during my recent trip to Kazan. A better application to download in my opinion is 2gis, but you’ll have to learn Cyrillic in order to use the app.

7. Finding a place is pretty easy as long as you have the address 

Even when you swear to God that you’ve found the right building, there is always a catch. As if Russian buildings are made for hide-and-seek game, it is never enough to have one entrance to a building. There will always be a side entrance… and a side entrance to that side entrance and another side entrance… after you pass by an arch, turn right towards a deserted backstreet, walk pass a tattoo place and a metal door will miraculously appear in the seemingly dead-end. (true story)

8. Things are expensive in Russia after Rubles took a nose dive in 2015 

It’s true that we see some inflation but Russia, in general, is still a very budget friendly destination. Let me give you an example, the Moscow Metro. A ticket cost just 35 Rubles when I first arrived in the country. In 2016, price increased to 50 Rubles and the last time I checked (February 2017), it became 55 Rubles. However, if you do some simple calculation, you’ll realize that the price is technically still the same, the increase is just to counter the currency value drop. After all, it cost only $0.9… and let’s ask ourselves how much a Subway ride cost in New York City?
A post shared by Vivian Dominique Lee (@littlemisshappyfeet) on

A post shared by Vivian Dominique Lee (@littlemisshappyfeet) on

9. There are no churched in former Soviet countries 

On the contrary, churches are EVERYWHERE… and they are sssssoooo breathtaking, the word “beautiful” is an understatement. One of the most impressive cathedrals I’ve seen is within the wall of Sergiev Posad’s Lavra. I recently took a day trip by Angel-taxi and the experience left me awestricken.
Read more: 
Day Trip to the most beautiful Monasteries, Lavra and Churches in Russia. 

10. Russian cities are not very modern or busy

If your impression about Moscow is just the Red Square, cube apartments and nothing else, clearly you haven’t been to the Financial district. Other than that, the traffic in Moscow is just insane. If I were to compare it to another city in the world, I’d say, the highway of Los Angeles. The roads in Moscow are incredibly wide, with 5-6 lanes (or more?) full of cars rushing towards the airport…. and these people don’t just stay in one lane… imagine a slightly milder version of Fast and Furious. So, just stay away from the wheels and go use the metro.

While the western medias continue to portray an inaccurate intimidating image of Russia, we, travelers have got to remember that we travel to kill stereotypes and discover the truth with our own senses. Hence, if you ever have the slightest idea of visiting Russia, go. The best time to visit Russia is now. Just, come and see for yourself before judging.

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Thank You for Reading! This post is based solely on my honest opinion or personal experience.
 If you have a different opinion, feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below!


Unknown said...

it's an amazing country - im heading back there for my third time in May!

Unknown said...

Thank you for the positive message in your articles about my native country!
Удачи! :)