OK, short update. We arrived in Omsk about an hour ago and I can now officially say I am in Siberia (and Asia for whatever that is worth). The train ride here was nice because we were able to sleep and also because our provodnitsa seemed to love us (plus she was cute as a button). But it was unlike our previous trips; the scenery was different, but not in the way I expected. I thought Siberia would be endless tracts of snow, however it is, instead, endless tracts of dead grass (with snow mixed in) and low-growing trees and abandonned homes. Unlike the previous expanses of Russian landscape which I described as being beautiful in a sad way, this countryside is bleak. It probably feels that way because of what this area has signified for so many over the centuries - a literal death sentence.
The rest of our night was good before hopping on a train and Ed and I managed to have our first real night life experience. Apparently American men are very popular, which was great for our egos, but the language barrier proved to confuse things a great deal.
As for Omsk, I have little to report as I haven't seen anything but I will say one thing about this country as a whole: they love their red-tape. Every hotel requires your provide your passport, immigration card and city registrations of every location you've previously been in. This is all copied and sent to the central immigration offices so that your movements can be tracked. It seems a bit absurd really because I promise you that all of these scraps of paper are getting thrown out: no one really cares what two American students are doing in Siberia. Also this hotel requires we keep our room key and the little slip that they handed us said keys in with us at all times...kind of weird.
Then again, this is a country where a newspaper is slapped with fines and injunctions for printing anything that critizes the government so...one never knows. Just typing that could get me hauled off to a gulag in the next 20 minutes.
I'll write more when I have something of substance to report on.