Blog: Simon WarburtonMoscow supremacy

Simon Warburton | 26 August 2010

From Jaguar comes the XJ Sentinel - which as its name suggests is a fairly tough cookie that is sure to be a hit with those who feel they might be the target of some pretty robust characters.

Unveiled at the Moscow Motor Show the Sentinel looks like it could cope with just anything anyone so-minded could throw at it - and that includes Jaguar itself - which seems to have had some fun trying to blow its own car up.

Talk of Moscow reminds me of my last visit around two years ago, when the Russian capital's notoriously gridlocked streets were as vivid a reminder as anything of the country's rapid embrace of all things western - it took almost as long to get to the hotel as it did to fly from London.

And many moons ago I was also on a trip to Moscow with the guide book sternly warning us that under no circumstances were we to get in unlicensed cabs, i.e. private cars. Instead we had to seek out the city's - apparently - plentiful yellow taxis.

Well, that was the guide book. There appeared to be almost zero yellow taxis around during the whole time we were there and so in desperation, we would flag down passing Ladas. They all seemed to be Ladas.

This went swimmingly until one dark evening my German colleague and I - she already highly nervous about the whole procedure - hailed yet another mud-caked Lada.

After a lot of pointing and gesticulating as to our address, we lurched off on what seemed a completely random route only for the leather coated and cap-clad driver - chain smoking for Russia - to screech to a halt and reach into his glove compartment.

The same thought occurred to both of us that we were about to be robbed at gunpoint but instead, our driver extracted a delicate chamois and proceeded to wipe the outside of his grimy window with an attention to detail we hadn't thought possible.

The guide book was wrong on this case - the Lada drivers we encountered were more than helpful - and apart from inhaling CO2-busting amounts of nicotine from them - got us safely to our destination.

However, for anyone wanting an action-packed view of Moscow through the eyes of some pretty good drivers, have a look at The Bourne Supremacy car chase and some of the best driving around. In one of those yellow cabs too.


Colossal China powers on

I'm starting to get a small idea of the scale of things here in China, but really, I'm only scratching the surface of this vast country....

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