Your emergency phones list
|Cooking gas emergency service||04|
The only bad thing is that these emergency services are barely able to understand what you're saying in English. However, in an emergency anything might help!
Getting through customs
Usually you don't encounter problems here. The limit on alcohol is 2 litres and on tobacco it's 400 pieces. If you're unsure about something, just ask a customs officer for advice (that's their job). Customs information can also be obtained from the Russian Federation embassy where you apply for your visa.
The Dollar is worth about 31 Roubles. German marks are also popular and easy to exchange. Exchanging other currencies can be a problem.
Officially, you are not allowed to exchange foreign currency anywhere except at exchange offices. However, many people make their living from providing better rates than banks. They will probably offer you their services when you enter an exchange office. Please be aware that this is illegal. Also, you may run across some smart-asses that will change your dollars and then try to get as much from you as possible by threatening to call the police. Or they might claim that they are themselves the tourist police or something similar. We understand that sometimes you might have to change your money unofficially (e.g. late at night). The best way of doing this is to ask somebody you know very well. In case you get caught the best tactic is to play dumb - just claim that you were not aware that it was illegal. Our police are not really willing to put you into the Gulag or whatever the place is called now, so you will probably get away by paying a fine.
ATMs are also available, and some shops will accept international cards. But this is not popular, so it is better to have some Roubles on you. You can get money from you Visa/MasterCard/Cirrus and maybe other formats from our branch of the Bank of Moscow (located on Volkova Square). See the map
Also there is ATM at front of Breeze supermarket building on 50 let Oktyabrya street (near Soviet Square).See the map
Other banks might also have ATMs.
Socialism is over, so now people have to pay for medical service (or get stuck with State Medical Insurance which is usually provided by employers and will cover only very basic medical needs not to mention quality of the service).
Unless you're officially employed by a Russian company, you won't get State Medical Insurance, and you are better off not counting on it anyway. The good side is that high quality medical service in Russia is still very cheap compared to the West. (Our content editor recently got his tooth removed at a prestigious clinic for 7 dollars with full complement of services including anaesthetics).
If you feel the need to get to a doctor, the best way is to ask somebody who can translate to go with you.
General issues can be brought to the attention of people in City Clinics conveniently located at the crossing of Sovietsky prospect and Vesennyaya street. Yearly coverage for basic needs in this clinic costs around 40 dollars. See the map
Dental issues can be handled in the small dental firm called Ulibka, located on Lenina prospect - no queues, decent prices, great equipment and customer care. The personnel speak enough English for basic communication. See the map
If seriously injured (broken bones, concussion, etc), call an Ambulance (dial 03) or report to the 24h Trauma Point. See the map
In case of an emergency problem with your eyes, you can go to the Oblast Clinics, where 24h eye dept is located. See the map
Local Fashion / What to wear
While men here usually wear normal casual stuff (with preference for darker colors) or business suits, ladies are known for their ability (and desire) to dress sparklingly everyday. We're aware that Europe and the States are going in a sort of simplistic/feministic way where ladies don't seem to care much about their appearance, but that's certainly not the Russian way - when you're on a street in Kemerovo on a sunny June day you might feel as though you were in the middle of a celebrity parade in Cannes. That 'just-got-out-of-bed' image will not serve you well in this part of the world!
Now talking about the seasons - summer (June, July and early August) is warm, and sometimes really hot. Normal summer clothing should do just fine. Our springs and autumns are much colder than those of Europe, so your usual winter wear (up to heavy coats as winter approaches) should cope with that, while raincoats and umbrellas will help when closer to summer.
Winter (mid-November to mid-March) is a killer here. With balls-freezing temperatures of -18 C on average and reaching sometimes -45 C you'd better have some heavy polar stuff with you. The good thing is that the air is very dry here, so this -18 C is not like -18 C in Europe: it feels better. The other good thing is that people here wear a lot of furs in winter, and they're available at cheap prices (50 dollars for a very warm full-fur fluffy hat). There is a good reason for this - when it is -45 C on the streets - Greenpeace sucks. So if you like to wear furs and you enjoy the 'King (or Queen) of the Wilderness' feeling - visit Kemerovo in winter.
If you go in winter, two tips about boots and layering. If you enter a home while in Kemerovo, and many businesses as well, be prepared for it to be warm! This means you should dress in multiple layers so you can remove several of them when you get indoors. About boots: if at all possible, get zippered boots, because you may be removing them often. Again, this is when you are indoors, and more likely in homes than in businesses, but it is quite common to remove footwear on entering homes.
Some cultural things
Generally people in Russia and in Kemerovo are very friendly to foreigners, so in most cases you won't have any problems, instead, most people are glad to assist you. Take proper advantage of this and don't hesitate to ask for help or advice. But be careful, and try not to argue with drunks on sensitive matters such as Chechnya, Serbia/Kosovo, Yeltsin, communism etc.
The years of Big Brother watching us still influence how people behave and interact. You will find that some people (especially older) are not open and friendly to 'strangers.'
People also have a tendency to behave in a 'stronger' way - you'll hear 'thank you' or 'sorry' much less often than in the West. Also smiles are not very common on the streets - maybe because people don't feel there is much to be happy about. However, don't be surprised if you get a stony look from a supermarket cashier.
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