It's now a little over two weeks until lift off and we're frantically sorting out all the minutae of our trip that have (inexplicably?) failed to sort themselves out. Our Russian and Chinese visas were relatively untroublesome to obtain, with hopefully the Mongolian to follow in a similar manner this week. We've been repeatedly jabbed in the arm by a worryingly scatty nurse in a travel clinic just off Russell Square. We're still trying to work out the least savings-squeezing method of getting our grubby mits on three months worth of Malarone anti-malarials, so if anyone has any suggestions they'd be hugely appreciated.
We hopefully now also possess the means to update this blog at least once a week, in the form of an unlocked mobile phone (for use with local sim cards) and broadband dongle. The gods of internet access allowing, we will be uploading writing, pictures, videos and audio of the interviews, stories, thoughts, poems, ideas and discussions we discover along the way.
I'm starting to get a little nervous about the trip and the project. I'm very much in two minds about whether to contact the relevant authorities about the project and the standard foreign office blurb hasn't so far been astonishingly helpful. Technically we're not journalists but it may appear that we are, and therefore there's a very real possibility that we may be deported or, far worse, cause trouble for the local people we speak to. This is something we must avoid at all costs.
Most worrying is my progress with the beautiful (but evidently bastard-hard) Russian language. Several months ago Will and I made a bargain that he would learn Mandarin and I would learn Russian. While Will has diligently completed a whole audio course [two courses! - Will] and can now get by in basic conversations with the Chinese [admittedly unproven - Will], I am not doing quite so well. In fact, it would be fair to say I'm still struggling with “hello”, “don't touch me” and “where is the toilet?”.