Russian priorities: Safety not exactly top concern

As I was leaving the open-air museum yesterday in Ulan-Ude, there was a wedding reception in the parking lot. Actually, it wasn't really the reception (at least I hope not, but it might have been), more like a pit stop between ceremony and reception, a place for the bride and friends to take photographs at an idyllic location, and also to participate in what apparently is Russian tradition: get extremely drunk and drive recklessly in tight quarters, making donuts on the ice and generally making a huge racket in a parking lot full of children, dogs, horses and ponies. Seriously, there were dozens of guys intentionally spinning their tires and jerking the steering wheel in a crowded parking lot full of children, dogs, horses and ponies. Let me try that one more time: dozens of drunk drivers, children on pony rides maybe eight feet away, dangerous icy pavement, and nobody really giving a fuck, because hey, doesn't the bride look great?

Also, on the train last night, the water (for tea and coffee) is heated by burning coals, the gate for which was left unlocked and the coals visibly exposed at chest level, for more than 20 minutes after the train had stopped so hard that bags fell, things flew off the table, and passengers got up and looked out the window to see if we had crashed. In the first sleeping berth, the closest to the in-your-face hot burning coals, was an infant and her mother.

In other news, smoking is prohibited in Russia wherever No Smoking signs are posted, unless you feel like smoking, in which case, by all means, go right ahead and smoke your cigarettes.