Russia on overdrive

Incredible tour of Russia in progress.  Has been a very fast two days here in Moscow, so I didn’t have much chance to get on the Internet.  The first day was a marathon of walking.  I actually got up at 5am the first morning and went to the gym.  I got on the treadmill and ran 9 km.  It is easier to run on that machine than outside on the sidewalks that’s for sure.  Then worked out on the Kinetic gym machine for awhile before hitting the pool and sauna.  Yes that’s right living the VIP lifestyle.  Grand Hyatt is a very very nice hotel for anyone who can drop a thousand dollars a night!  So after that workout we must have walked at least 10 to 15 km during the day.  Everybody was really feeling it at the end of the day.  I had an extra 9 km of running and a 10 kilogram backpack to lug around all day so I think I really got my workout. We got back to the hotel at like 1am and I crashed. Didn’t wake up until the maid came into the room 15 minutes before check out time.

The touring of Moscow was fantastic, really enjoying this trip. We are being guided around by Andrey a local shop owner here, and without him it would be much much harder. Nothing is in English, subways and signs are impossible to read. The city is clean and people are polite and respectful. The Red Square was amazing both in daylight and at night. The signs of globalization are certainly creeping into Moscow, but this is still a great time to visit if you can. There is still an innocence and purity here that I have not felt for a long time. Probably since I went to Peru three years ago. Ten more years and Moscow will probably just be another city like London, Tokyo and LA. Heck there are still lots of people rollerblading here, so that gives you an idea of how far behind they are culturally, perhaps ten to 15 years out.

Red Square

Paul Mittleman from Stussy getting a shot of the Cosmonaut gear in the mall by Red Square.

I love the fact that you can actually buy fresh fruit, bread and vegetables at the little local stands that are everywhere in the city.  Pizza, beer, juice and those kinds of stuff are sold in the stands.  No crappy cold packaged fake burritos, or cardboard tasting calorie mate bars, but real food.

The underground passageways are filled with these little tiny shops that sell everything from underwear to shoes laces, magazines, keys and watches.

Street scene.  The locals drive fast, very fast.  The roads are huge, six lanes wide in one direction for some roads and they take advantage of it.

Super model types everywhere.

The was a was a very beautiful girl on the subway yesterday and she had a boyfriend with an incredible mullet hairstyle kissing on her neck.  It was a sad thing to watch.  The mullet hairstyle seems to still be very much in fashion here.

OK check out the poster below.  We all thought this was for a gay bar, but turns out it is for a strip club for ladies.

Interesting side note, I have not seen what look like tourists throughout much of the city.  I am sure there are a lot of Russian tourists, and there were some tourist types in Red Square but that is about it.  We seem to be the only people taking pictures where ever we go.  And let me tell you we are all taking a lot of pictures.  I have shot at least 3-4 thousand pictures already.  The rest of our group is also shooting a lot.  It is hard to get anywhere as we all keep stopping and shooting constantly.  There are a lot of Kodak moments here.  Have to be careful where and what you shoot though.  Shooting inside buildings of any kind is pretty much not allowed.  Restaurants, cafes, clubs and bars all told us not to shoot.  Don’t try to shoot a photo of anyone in police or military uniform as they will shut you down straight away.  So we have been trying to sneak shots of places and people without being too obvious.

Red Square last night.  On the way to the train station we had to stop for a few minutes to shoot what may become the cover of the next Honeymag.  A night shot of Hiroshi with the Red Square in the background.  It was a super rushed set up and shoot as always.  I had my flash all set up and ready while we drove there in the taxi.  Detz-san was my assistant holding the flash and Hiroshi posed nicely in three different set ups.  Shot this most famous church as we rushed back to the taxi that was waiting.  We made it to the train with about 2 minutes to spare!

Overnight train took us all the way to St. Petersburg arriving 7:40 this morning.  Great train ride, slept good and woke to an amazing sunrise over forest and fields with low lying fog in the fields.  Super!  We checked into our new thousand dollar a night hotel and are resting a few minutes before heading out to check out the city and culture!


Arrived in Moscow

Well we made it to Moscow! Boy do the locals drive fast here! We got picked up at the airport by Anthony who will be our guide over the next week here in Russia. We sped away from the Domodedovo Airport quickly only to get stuck in a Russian traffic jam. It was funny watching people go off-roading on the side of the highway trying to get ahead of the traffic jam. Later when we asked one of the locals about the driving style here in Moscow, he just said “people here are enjoying the having of a car, so they drive fast” with a thick Russian accent! The weather here today was nice, a little rain but only in a few areas. There were high clouds, making for dramatic scenes, so hope we get more weather like that tomorrow. We are going to be touring the city tomorrow looking at cafes, bars and places that the young generation go to in Moscow.

Leaving Shibuya this morning at 7:30am.

Love the Russian cars.

VIP treatment at the Hyatt hotel, supermodels at the front desk even.

Hiroshi brought along the Leica M8, outgunning me right from the start!

Street by our hotel, how many lanes is that?

Off to Russia!

Flew to Tokyo today and spent the evening with Detz and Hiroshi and Jeff and AK. Had some good Udon noddles in Shinjuku and then some shaved ice at Hiroshi’s house! Those guys know how to live good in Tokyo. So tomorrow we fly to Moscow from Narita at 11 am. Looking forward to this second trip to Russia. Check out the schedule we got! I got this email today and this is just a portion of our tour. Looks like we are going to get to see everything happening in Moscow.

  • 7/28(mon)Moscow
    11:05 landing in Moscow 16:10
    16:45-18:00 going to the Hotel.
    Dinner in Shinok (Ukrainian authentic place)
    10:30 travel guide around Moscow, including visiting some shopping areas.
    Lunch in Denis Simachev Bar (Trendy place for opinion leaders)
    Visit UK STYLE shop and walking around.
    (This area has plenty of nice small cafes, shops, embassies, some very good Russian-Soviet Union antique shops)
    Traveling by Moscow underground (metro). Visiting some beautiful metro stations and going to KIXBOX.
    KIX BOX shop.
    Visiting the Victory Hill (skaters area)
    Stussy Pop Up Store
    Solanka (the most interesting youth club). They have café so we can have dinner here.
    Walking around this area
    Visiting some clubs and bars (Propaganda, Pytevka v Gizn, China aviator Jo Da, Piroge)
    Tourist tour to the Kremlin including visiting the Diamonds Fond and the Armoury Chamber, Uspenskiy Church.
    Dinner in Tyrandot or Pushkin
    Free time
    Some suggestions:
    1) Soviet Union Exhibition center called VDNX (Very exciting)
  • I like the Very Exciting comment! So look like it is going to be an action packed five days. Should be able to get some internet connection while I am there to keep the blog going. I am counting on it as that is while I am carrying this heavy computer over there.

    From Shinjuku next stop Moscow

    Looks like we are headed for rainy weather and cold temperatures over there. High of 15 degrees low of 6 is what I was told today! Well if you are in Moscow say hi!

    Nike +

    Have been getting into the Nike + system over the last few days. I actually received this little gadget on my trip to Portland with Hiroshi for in April. I never took it out of the box until recently. I started running near my house during the editing of Car Danchi 3, but still didn’t take it out of the box. After finishing the editing I started running longer distances and really getting into it over the last two weeks. It has been a tough two weeks as the body is hating me every morning as I tie my shoes and head out the door. Now after two weeks of running everyday I am finally starting enjoy the experience and not feel so much pain! So I decided to bust the Nike+ out of the box. It is really a fun item. You put a sensor in your shoes and then wear the watch/wrist band that keeps track of your steps/time/pace etc., Then when you get home you can upload your run to the Nike+ web site and it gives you all the stats from your run. It also keep an archive of all your prior runs and helps you set goals and challenges with other people all kinds of stuff. I have never been much of a runner, but having the visual gratification seeing the stats and graph on the screen is pretty cool and gives some incentive to get out there and run some more! Pretty soon I will be wearing spandex and wrap around sunglasses with a sweatband for good measure! Not!

    Car Danchi Lifestyle USA

    Found this article in the newspaper about homeless people in the US having to live in their cars. Interesting stuff. I remember camping with my family around the US and sometimes being told to move on in the middle of the night. It is tough in the States not being able to just park your car anywhere you want and go to sleep. Here in Japan there is no law against it, so people can park and sleep pretty much where ever they want. Anyway, thought the article was interesting enough to post as it shows another side of the Car Danchi lifestyle, although not such a happy one.

    Freerun Blueblood ad.

    I don’t think I posted this ad. This is in the catalog issue of Freerun magazine released this year. Nice two page spread from Blueblood. The picture was shot in Tomamu, the snow was the remains of a quarter pipe in the snow park. There was no approach to the pile of snow so we hand shoveled a runway in. The remains of the snow looked like an iceberg just sitting there on the course. That is what really appealed to me about this set up. As the sun set the flash worked its magic and we were able to get this shot! Shinya is the rider. Click for a bigger version.

    New Shoes

    Decided to buy some new shoes for my upcoming trip to Russia. Went to “shugakusou” the outdoor shop here in Sapporo, but couldn’t find anything I like. Travel shoes are tricky. Comfortable, breathable, yet something that could be worn to a decent resturant and not look like I just came back from a mountain climb. Ended up at the local Nike store and found a cool looking pair or shoes called the Rejuven8. They come with two inners that can be exchanged and a bag to hold everything in. I only found out when I got home that the shoes went on sale on the 19th, which is the day I bought them. I don’t think I have ever bought anything on the day it was released! I am not that crazy of a shopper. Anyway went for the green and black combo, very comfortable so far.