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Alex Gilbert: My journey home to Russia

Published: 5:18PM Friday January 31, 2014 Source: Sunday

Alex Gilbert wrote this blog as part of telling his story, "To Russia With Love", on Sunday this week.

From leaving my home in Auckland to travelling half way round the world to Russia. I had no idea what I was in for.

I knew it was going to be a crazy experience.

First of all finding my birth parents was unbelievable. My parents were very happy for me but we all had concerns about what I might be walking into in Russia.

After all we knew next to nothing about what my "new" family were really like.

I had to accept that maybe my birth mother or birth father might not want anything to do with me. As if that wasn't enough, just getting into Russia was a mission in itself.

The trip you'll see on Sunday was actually my second attempt to get there.

Earlier last year I and a camera crew were a day away from leaving: tickets all paid for, everything sorted - when at the last minute I was told I couldn't enter Russia on my NZ passport as the Russian government still considered me a Russian citizen, not a Kiwi! After 20 years away!! "So what", you might think.

Actually it was a big deal because it meant if I went to Russia anyway I could end up being stopped at the airport when I arrived and drafted into the Russian army!!

No thanks. Turns out the ONLY way for me to get into Russia was to get a new Russian passport, and, they said that could take a year! To cut a long story short, six months later and fresh new passport in hand I boarded a plane at Auckland airport: destination Moscow.

To see this story, watch SUNDAY at 7.00pm this week on TVONE.

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