|Practically the Himalayas|
|The Real Big Apple|
"The Office of Visas and Registration hides in an unmarked office, unadvertised on a random street...[it] opens late, seldom and closes ten minutes before it opens, except on weekdays and days beginning with 'S', when it doesn't open at all."
First Russian, then Chinese officials, when available, told me that my status in Kazakhstan precludes my application for a tourist visa. In Lvov the Russian Consulate actually had to bend the rules; but i was wrong to suppose that this is widely practised. So i took a bus here to enquire at the surprisingly weather-beaten Mongolian Embassy - only to find it closed, as the Consul is in Astana until Tuesday or Wednesday. It's all a bit 'up in the air'. Even if, please God, i can get a Mongolian visa, i'll need a Russian transit visa, perhaps from the Consulate here - flights to Ulaan Baator are only once a week, and booked up long in advance. The thing is, if my experience in Astana is anything to go by, the Consulate may only deal with visa enquiries on alternate Fridays, from citizens aged 65 and over, accompanied by all four grandparents, etc, etc...
|Orthodox Church, made of wood, Almaty|
Today is Pentecost, and it happened that i was given a lift to the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity this morning in the company of the local Bishop, who is a relatively young Spaniard. He led us in a recitation of the following famous Russian prayer to Our Lady (here translated into English);
We fly to Thy patronage, O Holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin. Amen.