The Lowdown

Hey there! Thanks for stopping by our page. So, you probably wanna know who we are and what we do. That’s easy! We’re a couple of young(ish), free-spirited people from two totally different cultures, who found a way to be together. Our names are Pavel and Ellie. A Russian and an Aussie. We enjoy travelling the world and writing about it and would love to be able to share our content with you via a subscription. It’s as simple as that. But if that’s not enough detail for you, scroll down and find out more!

 

How We Met

Like any fashionable couple these days, we owe our acquaintance to the internet. Now, we know what you’re thinking. Just another tinder couple who got lucky and found something serious. But it’s actually a bit more complicated than that. The story is quite long, but seriously unusual, so grab a glass of something good and nestle in for the long haul.

It all started in a small town in the south of Russia called Cherkessk. A young man, about 21 years of age, was studying English at the local university as part of his economics degree. Feeling disillusioned about the lack of real-life language practice he was getting, he decided to try and find something called a ‘pen pal’. This was no easy feat in the year of 2006, before smartphones and compact laptops, when the internet was only just starting to slowly appear.

He had to think outside the box. How could he find a person from halfway across the world who was willing to exchange letters with him in English? Aha! In the English language textbooks used at his university he found the address of a public library in Canberra. Canberra, the capital of Australia. Being an avid reader of travel books in his childhood, he decided that Australia, with its diverse nature and unique animals, was sure to bring home the goods. So, he sat down and wrote out a personal letter to a public library in Canberra, Australia, asking if anyone there would like to become his pen pal and if not, could they please pass the letter onto someone who would. He stuck on a few stamps and popped it in the mail box.

A few months later, a bulky envelope arrived on his doorstop with an ever-so polite reply from the public library in Canberra. No, they don’t normally organize pen pals for people but they would recommend registering on a pen pal website using the internet. The Internet. He had a faint idea of what that meant and popped into his local internet café to find out how he could make it happen.

After purchasing an email address for 20 rubles, he registered on several pen pal sites and started writing to an Australian girl called Ellena (Ellie for short), which is actually a Russian name. An Australian girl with a Russian name and no apparent Russian roots. He was intrigued…

Meanwhile in Maleny, a small town on the east coast of Australia, a young girl of 15 was also looking for a language partner. She was learning Russian via distance education and desperately wanted to practise with someone. She was lucky enough to have internet access at home, and had been registered on a couple pen pal websites for some months, with more fails than successes, but really enjoyed speaking to people from around the world in front of the screen of the family’s old but reliable desktop computer…

One day, a university student from the south of Russia wrote to her. He had a really strange name, Pasha, which kind of sounded like the word ‘pash’ which means ‘kiss’ in Australia so she was immediately intrigued…. They hit it off and in no time they were exchanging frequent emails and the occasional scanned photograph. Next came letters and parcels, full of coins, souvenirs and local delicacies from their respective countries. They quickly figured out that they could use MSN Messenger to talk in real time and even send emoticons to each other! Their families and friends also became acquainted, and their friendship blossomed for four years before they decided to meet each other in person in Russia in June of 2009.

She had just finished high school and was preparing to enter university but had taken six months off to travel. He had just moved to a new city, Krasnodar, having found work there after graduating from university and was starting a new life. Although they had a great time together in St Petersburg and Moscow, they both understood that their lives were moving in different directions and the promise of something more than friendship that they had both felt for some time was not going to serve them practically. They parted ways on polite but somber terms and went back to their own lives. They didn’t really keep in touch over the following years – just the odd email or Facebook comment out of curiosity. Until 2015, that is…

How We Met…Again

Towards the end of 2015 both of them were single. She was finishing her Masters in TESOL and considering moving overseas to start a teaching career. He was enjoying his work as the manager of a petrol station but was also feeling like he needed a change in life.

One night, she wrote to him. Out of the blue. Just asking how things were going and whether he’d like to come to Australia to visit her. But she wrote to an old email address that he hadn’t used for months because it had been hacked. One day, he decided to reopen the email account on the off chance that someone important had written. He found her email and replied.

Slowly but surely, their friendship reappeared. Emails became more frequent; fortnightly, weekly, twice weekly. Then they started talking via messenger. Weekly, twice weekly, then daily. It was no longer 2005. They could be in touch, instantly, at any moment, from any corner of the globe. Before long they were skyping and making plans to meet each other for the first time in 6 years. Just to see whether the spark that was there all those years ago was finally ready to become something more.

6 months later, in November, they met in Bangkok, Thailand, a kind of halfway point between Australia and Russia, a neutral ground. They spent two weeks together, travelling around Thailand and by the end of the trip were already planning how she would move to Russia and they would live together in Krasnodar.

They both returned to their respective homes. She began buying tickets, applying for visas, selling possessions and searching for work as an English teacher. He began house hunting, buying furniture and preparing himself for the adventure ahead. Four months later, in March 2016, she moved halfway across the world and their life together began.

Although this is where this story ends today, it is not where their story ended. They spent a fantastic 2.5 years in Krasnodar, a time that took them on many adventures around Russia itself, to neighbouring areas like Georgia, Armenia and Europe and even back to Australia for 1 month. It was also a time that witnessed their marriage, after 11 years of knowing each other and 18 months of being together.

On The Road

At the beginning of 2018, they realised that their feet were starting to itch and they wanted to make a change to their lives. Their plan to return to Australia for Christmas of that year soon morphed into a six-month stint in Thailand that then become a six-month trip around South East Asia. We started in July of 2018 in Turkey and have been going since then.

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