Showing posts with label border. Show all posts
Showing posts with label border. Show all posts

02 January 2004

10° g - 2 GEN: AMMAN – ROMA

Arriva il momento di ripartire. Breve viaggio ma molto interessante. Solo Petra vale il viaggio. Il resto è comunque una facile introduzione al mondo arabo del medio oriente, consigliata magari a chi non vuole rinunciare a qualche comodità e provare comunque l’ebrezza del deserto e delle classiche rovine dell’antica Roma.

Controlli minuziosi e pedanti all’aeroporto. Hanno fatto storie ad una compagna di viaggio perché i controllori (maschi) addetti ai controlli di sicurezza le hanno trovato assorbenti interni nella borsa, che con il caratteristico filo per l’estrazione assomigliavano secondo loro a candelotti di dinamite!! Non sto scherzando!!! Ci hanno fatto perdere una buona mezz’ora, le vigilesse giordane presenti, da me convocate, si sono rifiutate di spiegare ai loro colleghi maschi di cosa si trattasse, o forse non lo sapevano neanche loro. Comunque non posso pensare che quelli fossero i primi assorbenti che vedevano, forse volevano solo divertirsi. Situazione sgradevole. A me hanno tolto le batterie dalle macchine fotografiche, però le hanno consegnate al comandante dell’aereo che me le ha restituite a Roma, alla fine del volo.

16 August 2002

9. - 16 AUG: Border crossing into Laos, dolphins, Dong Khong

The last leg of the Mekong ride in Cambodia is the most difficult and adventurous. There is no scheduled public service from Stung Treng to the border with Laos, just after Kaoh Nang island. In fact, until very recently this border post was not officially open at all except to Lao and Cambodian nationals, though stories abound that anyone willing to fork out the necessary tips would be let through.

09 August 2002

2. - 9 AUG: Enter Indochina, a little corruption and massage

After an uneventful flight, a tropical Summer night welcomed us at the airport of Siem Reap (pronounced Seem Reep), the modern city which rises next to the ruins of ancient Angkor – which means "the Capital" in Khmer, and was indeed the capital of the Khmer Empire from the 9th century to 1431, when the Emperors moved to Phnom Penh’s region. The air was hot, very hot, completely still, and invasively sticky under my shirt. Pearls of sweat began to form on my forearms as I descended the plane's ladder, before I even had a chance to touch the Cambodian soil. The few uncertain floodlights which punctuated our solitary airplane's parking area cast an eerie spell over the tarmac. After a short walk, we were directed into the arrivals building. At passport control, two lines formed under a battery of lazy fans which churned the air from the ceiling above: first we lined up to have our passports checked, then again to get a visa. Funny, usually you get a visa first and then have your passport checked and stamped, but never mind.

08 August 2002

1. - 8 AUG: In the air over Asia, beginning of trip to Cambodia and laos, along the Mekong river

Bangkok is far and away the biggest hub for all South East Asia travel. I flew into the Thai capital on a Swiss Airlines plane from Zurich. I have flown with them many times, but never had they been so corteous as on this flight; it must be their fear that, after Swissair's bankruptcy, the face-lifted SWISS airline (same planes, same crews) is their last chance to survive. Yet, the plane was old and noisy and I was not sure about the future of this airline…

24 April 1989

1° g - 24 Apr: Arrivo a Mosca, in albergo, gelato e caffè

Con volo da Roma arrivo in Unione Sovietica per un soggiorno di un mese come ospite ricercatore dell'Accademia delle Scienze dell'URSS, che mi fornisce ospitalità e supporto per le mie ricerche. Da parte italiana ho avuto il sostegno del Comitato Nazionale delle Ricerche. Ringrazio entrambi.

All'aeroporto Appena arrivato in URSS un primo assaggio delle incoerenze della foga riformatrice. Per aumentare le entrate di valuta convertibile, all'aeroporto hanno aperto un nuovo "Duty Free Shop", che però ha la peculiarità di trovarsi nel settore degli arrivi. Il che vuol dire che chi compra deve immediatamente entrare nel paese e non lasciarlo. Non mi è stato chiarito il senso dell'operazione, che mi sembra quantomeno un autolesionismo fiscale!

18 June 1980

Crystal and corals

Easy day of rest, laundry, catching up with our classmates at the dorm.

In the evening I go and meet Marian and Ewa at their place. News of our shipment to Italy is not good: my crystal vase broke. The big atlas and my old Tsarist rubles made it OK through customs and the rough handling of LOT Polish Airlines. There was no choice, Alitalia is not flying to Warsaw. Even Alitalia is usually better that flag carriers from Comecon countries. I long for a time when flag carriers won't exist any more. Why should governments have anything to do with flying people and cargo?

Marian and Ewa are very kind, they got me a new crystal vase! And one for Andrew. He also has a gift of corals for mom and another set of corals which he kindly asks me to smuggle out of the country. I am not sure why corals are such a good deal in Poland. But they are.

19 February 1980

Arrested in a Warsaw Pact military base. (This is not a joke.)

What happened on this day deserves special attention as it was one of the defining days of my life. It was not funny when it happened, though it made for countless hilarious conversation afterwards.

We left Vienna in the morning and crossed into Czechoslovakia with transit visa, with the goal of reaching Poland by the end of the day. We clear the border quickly, little more than ten minutes. Barbed wire as far as the eye can see.

Very few cars on the Czechslovak side, while many buses and trucks slows us down quite a bit. Almost all cars are withre FIAT 124 (Soviet made Lada) or Skoda. The road to Brno and beyond is dotted with hundreds of small monuments to Communism and red banners hailing socialism. One such banners reads: "Our union with Russia is a guarantee of peace". Small red stars are ubiquitous, even on lamp posts, street signs, everywhere.

The Iron Curtain at the border between Austria and Czechoslovakia