David Lee in Russia: From Russia with Love

Clockwise, from top left: A downpour could not douse the euphoria of the French fans as our man in Russia joined them in their celebrations after the final. The late sunset by the Volga River in Samara was simply a sight to behold. David Lee with the
A downpour could not douse the euphoria of the French fans as our man in Russia joined them in their celebrations after the final. ST PHOTOS: DAVID LEE
Clockwise, from top left: A downpour could not douse the euphoria of the French fans as our man in Russia joined them in their celebrations after the final. The late sunset by the Volga River in Samara was simply a sight to behold. David Lee with the
The late sunset by the Volga River in Samara was simply a sight to behold. ST PHOTOS: DAVID LEE
Clockwise, from top left: A downpour could not douse the euphoria of the French fans as our man in Russia joined them in their celebrations after the final. The late sunset by the Volga River in Samara was simply a sight to behold. David Lee with the
David Lee with the volunteers who lent him a big helping hand in Russia. ST PHOTOS: DAVID LEE
Clockwise, from top left: A downpour could not douse the euphoria of the French fans as our man in Russia joined them in their celebrations after the final. The late sunset by the Volga River in Samara was simply a sight to behold. David Lee with the
Our writer posing with team-mates and opponents after a six-a-side media friendly at the Football Park on the Red Square in Moscow.ST PHOTOS: DAVID LEE

The British media warned of hooliganism, ISIS threatened a terrorist attack, and my friends joked of stolen kidneys. To be honest, it was a mix of anticipation and apprehension before I first set foot in Russia for this assignment.

But here I am, a five-week convert, from whom the only thing stolen is a piece of my heart, much like almost every tourist and foreign media representative I have spoken to who have fallen in love with this big and beautiful country.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2018, with the headline 'From Russia with love'. Print Edition | Subscribe