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Busing the Soviet Union

October 19, 1986

I've just finished reading "Finding Ways to Do It Our Way in the U.S.S.R." by Marjory Oates (Oct. 5). Now I'm positive I made the right choice recently for a tour bus trip through the Soviet Union. Oates feels that traveling independently allowed her to "make contact with the real Russia." Her "real Russia" included a $125 a night hotel suite with a refrigerator, a chauffeured limousine, spending only American dollars and going hours without hearing a word of English.

My "real Russia" was modest housing, having young Intourist guides answer my many questions (in English) and being provided with opportunities to spend the "real" currency of the country at roadside fruit stands, vending machines that dispense juice drunk from communal cups and shopping in other than government-sponsored shops (among real Russians).

I, too, rode on trains, saw all the sights, walked for hours by myself (not "shepherded by a tour guide"). I'm not sure how my experience was less real. Perhaps it's because it cost me so much less.

GRETCHEN COWAN

Huntington Beach

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