Posts From Russia

Warm people, cold weather (Vladivostok, Russia)

Journal entry for Sunday 7th Apr, 2013 (day 4, miles 0)

Friday morning we phoned a few people and made arrangements for the afternoon, explored the area around our hotel, ventured into a super market and picked up a supply of groceries. to read the full post

Paper work and sightseeing (Vladivostok, Russia)

Journal entry for Monday 8th Apr, 2013 (day 5, miles 0)

We were up and at breakfast earlier this morning, not only attracted by the bright sunshine but also in anticipation of starting the process of getting the truck. At 9:00 we met with Svetlana and an insurance agent. Over the weekend Svetlana had prepared all the documents we would need for releasing the truck and the insurance agent was going to provide the last piece of the puzzle - 3 months insurance for 3000 rubbles (a bit under $100). to read the full post

Our big yellow tow truck (Vladivostok, Russia)

Journal entry for Tuesday 9th Apr, 2013 (day 5, miles 0)

The day promised to be a big occasion, we were supposed to get our truck!. Of course there was one last visit to the offices of FESCO the shipping company to get our Temporary Import Permit and then down to the port entrance to wait while Yuri (Melnikov) drove the truck out to us. Neither Nina or I were allowed into the port only suitably authorized Russian citizens may enter. to read the full post

A few firsts (Ussurisk, Russia)

Journal entry for Wednesday 10th Apr, 2013 (day 7, miles 60)

A few "firsts" today. Elena met us at the hotel this morning and offered to guide us out of the city. Assistance we were more than willing to accept as Vladivostok is not exactly a city that is easy to navigate. We stopped for a visit with Yuriy (Tatiana's father) and a breakfast of Russian crab (one "first") and a top up of our water tank before hitting the road (called the M60 or M58) north. to read the full post

Buddha and The Emerald Valley (Spassk, Russia)

Journal entry for Thursday 11th Apr, 2013 (day 8, miles 131)

This morning Sergei took us on a tour of some of the local sights in his off-road equipped Nissan Patrol. We were accompanied on this exercise by the lady teacher from last night (Ludmilla) and a man named Shasha First stop on this tour somewhat surprisingly was a large statue of a Buddha in a small village near Ussurisk. It seems that the area around the Buddha was inhabited 10,000 years ago by an ancient race and also occupied by the army of Genghis Khan. Equally interesting to us was the forest, all the trees were coated in ice condensed out of the moist air by the overnight chill (haw frost). to read the full post

A little problem, first night unaided (Lushegorsk, Russia)

Journal entry for Friday 12th Apr, 2013 (day 9, miles 160)

Last night among the trucks was surprisingly quiet, we heard a few come and go in the night but we did not (like often in the US) have refrigeration trucks to assault our ears. to read the full post

A partial fix, and a night in a rest stop (M60 km 151, Russia)

Journal entry for Saturday 13th Apr, 2013 (day 10, miles 74)

This morning we felt a little conspicuous with our bright (though now dust covered) yellow truck parked among the more dower working trucks so we decided to get out onto the road a little earlier. Besides with the water system not working I cannot use the coffee maker (what a hardship). A little way down the road we came upon one of the now familiar roadside parking spots. These are peculiar facilities. They are muddy patches of ground, sometimes with remnants of pavement, and covered in abandoned litter of kinds one does not even want to imagine. But that is not the peculiar bit. They each (of them we have seen anyway) have a large ramp made from slabs of concrete. It is like a low table with an on and off ramp. Even the roadside sign that designates the parking place has a picture of a car on the ramp. When we work out what the ramp is for we will let you all know. to read the full post

A dumb mistake (Khabarovsk, Russia)

Journal entry for Sunday 14th Apr, 2013 (day 11, miles 102)

Today we discovered that we had made a really dumb mistake when we left our hotel in Vladivostok, but I will tell you about that below. We also found and fixed another apparent problem with the camper. Best of all with the aid of our digital map from the Open Street Map project we navigated our way through the city of Khabarovsk to a hotel. to read the full post

Us and a Russian news crew (Khabarovsk, Russia)

Journal entry for Monday 15th Apr, 2013 (day 12, miles 0)

Believe it or not we spent much of this morning with a Russian TV News crew. The reporter in the team (Irina) is a friend of Sergey's and she along with a camera man (Roman) and a driver arrived about 10:30 to capture us for the Khabarovsk News section of the Russian National TV News. All in all we spent about 3 hours with the team while they filmed the truck and us from many angles, and interviewed both Nina and I (with Sergey acting as translator). They asked some of the obvious questions such as "what are you doing", and "why", "how are people different here than in the US", how do Russian roads compare to the US and Canada". We hope we did not embarrass ourselves, nor offend our hosts. All of this took place in below freezing temperatures and with light snow falling. to read the full post

A few excursions (Khabarovsk, Russia)

Journal entry for Tuesday 16th Apr, 2013 (day 12, miles 0)

Sergie joined us just before lunch and we piled into the truck for a short drive north to a facility that Nina and I would call a zoo (its name is Blagodarim - Благодарим). We spent a hour or more photographing the range of creatures on display. The highlights were Siberian Tigers, Russian bears (including a couple of cubs), a very rare Leopard from the region (only 30 left), Lynx, wolves and a polar bear from Canada. Sergie told us that the place ran on a very tight budget but even so the animals and their pens are in good condition. The paths for the human visitors were in a slightly poorer state of repair partly because there has been little repair from the damage of winter. to read the full post

Guardian angels (Khabarovsk, Russia)

Journal entry for Wednesday 17th Apr, 2013 (day 12, miles 0)

This morning our guardian angels Elena (in Vladivostok) and Irina (in Khabarovsk) succeeded in getting that document from the hotel into our hot little hands. The back story to the document's delivery is interesting. Last night around 9:00pm a train called the Ocean departed from Vladivostok headed for Khabarovsk. Aboard the train was Irina's doctor (friend or family doctor we never did work out). Elena gave him the document and he carried it for the overnight train journey. Irina met the train, took delivery of the document and then dropped by our hotel to give it to us. to read the full post

Moving on (Birobidzhan, Russia)

Journal entry for Thursday 18th Apr, 2013 (day 15, miles 150)

It seemed to take forever to get on the move today. What with making the last use of our hotel room, catching up on emails, talking (Skype) to family it was midday before we started moving; and then only to a local super market to top up our larder. to read the full post

Contrasts (Near Novobureyskiy, Russia)

Journal entry for Friday 19th Apr, 2013 (day 16, miles 203)

Today was a day of (mild) contrasts. We started the day with a light covering of snow and once under way we traveled through a fairyland of snow and frost covered forests with a light fog. It was really beautiful. As the day progressed the fog lifted and the sun occasionally appeared, For the remainder of the day we were treated to periods of snow and sunshine; sometimes both at the same time. to read the full post

Good news (Blagoveshchensk, Russia)

Journal entry for Saturday 20th Apr, 2013 (day 17, miles 165)

The town (city?) of Blagoveshchensk (Бпаговешенск) was our destination today. The towns name means "good news" and was named for the peace agreement signed in 1858 between the Chinese and Russians that set the Amur River as the border between the two countries in this region. Blagoveshchensk sits on the river bank only a "stones throw" from China. to read the full post

BBQ Russin style (Svobodni, Russia)

Journal entry for Sunday 21st Apr, 2013 (day 18, miles 96)

After breakfast our hosts from last night called by to continue guiding us. First off was some shopping at a local mall; and a very up market affair it was too. It also demonstrated the universal appeal of modern electronics. In a single story mall with maybe 10 shops there were 3 cell phone stores and one computer store. For us of more interest was the well stocked supermarket. to read the full post

Broadband chip and nice road (Ushumun, Russia)

Journal entry for Monday 22nd Apr, 2013 (day 19, miles 147)

At 8:30 Alexander knocked on the camper door to get us up and moving. I accepted his offer of coffee and we spent an interesting period consuming the coffee, looking at off road pictures on his computer, and talking to each other via Google Translate. One of the pictures he showed me was of an off road event in China and two H1 Hummers with Chinese plates. He also offered to give me one of his USB-Wireless Broadband chips and to help us buy a month-by-month data plan for it. So Alexander, two sons (one teenage and one pre school) piled into the truck and we made the short drive into the center of town. to read the full post

M56 - our first taste (Yakutsk Rd KM24, Russia)

Journal entry for Tuesday 23rd Apr, 2013 (day 20, miles 169)

Late this afternoon we did our first kms on the famous M56 (or Lena Highway), the road from Невер (Never) to Якутск (Yakutsk). I have been reading about this road (and its extension to Magadan) for years and we have been getting hints and warnings about the road from various Russian hosts over the past 2 weeks. While planning this adventure we saw this road as one of the highlights of the Russian section of the trip and also perhaps one of the most challenging sections of road on the entire journey. The next 3 to 4 days will let us experience the reality of this infamous road. to read the full post

First full day on the Lena Hwy (Near Chul'man, Russia)

Journal entry for Wednesday 24th Apr, 2013 (day 21, miles 251)

All the mud was frozen solid this morning; the truck showed an outside temperature of 25°F (-3°C). We got under way with some trepidation this morning as we have a long way to go to Yakutsk and everything we have heard suggests this will be a rough road. After driving only a short way we got it officially 1075 km to go. to read the full post

Russian spring !! (Nth of Aldan, M56, Russia)

Journal entry for Thursday 25th Apr, 2013 (day 22, miles 200)

This morning, from the comfort of our warm bed and camper we looked outside to bright sunshine and frozen puddles; so we guessed it was cold. But we were still a little surprised when the truck's outside temperature display registered 16°F (-8°C). I thought this was supposed to be spring! to read the full post

Houston we have a problem! (Cafe on M56, Russia)

Journal entry for Friday 26th Apr, 2013 (day 23, miles 189)

Had we known at the start of the day what events were ahead of us we may have simply stayed in bed; but that's not how life works. So we set off this morning thinking (even planning) on being in the village of Haptagay (Хаптагай) about 30 km south of, and across the Lena river from, Yakutsk by evening. to read the full post

A quick update (Yakutsk, Russia)

Journal entry for Saturday 27th Apr, 2013 (day 24, miles 51)

There has been no internet along the M56 to Yakutsk so I am some days behind in my regular journal posts. So I decided to do a quick update to let friends and family know where we are and what is happening and I will come back and fill in with a more complete record over the next few days. We are in Yakutsk, we are safe and sound but we have a significant mechanical issue with the vehicle and for the moment we are unable to travel. Over the next few days we will assess the options available to us for fixing the vehicle and do some sightseeing things as well. to read the full post

Repair plans and sightseeing (Yakutsk, Russia)

Journal entry for Sunday 28th Apr, 2013 (day 25, miles 0)

To say that we had a restless night would be an understatement. Here we are 1200 kms up a rough road with a broken truck, cannot speak the language and cannot even get the truck into the city where we may just have been able to find decent repair facilities. But our mood has been somewhat lightened by the folks at GXV who have given us an undertaking to essentially "do what ever it takes" to get us moving again, also by Alexander who has both helped us get organized and has taken it upon himself to guide us to the local sights of interest. to read the full post

Lena River Pillars and off-roading Yakutia style (Yakutsk, Russia)

Journal entry for Monday 29th Apr, 2013 (day 25, miles 0)

Today Alexander, Maria and Inna (todays designated interpreter) took us for a drive in the countryside to look at a local geological phenomena called the Lena Pillars. These are eroded stone outcroppings on the banks of the Lena River somewhat south of the city of Yakutsk. The Lonely Planet spends some time describing how to see these pillars from a boat cruise on the Lena River. However at this time of year there are no boat cruises as the river is still full of ice. The first hint that the day would be more adventurous than the above mild description might imply was the start time; 7:00 am. When asked why such an early start we were told that the planned drive was a 500km round trip. In our truck that is at least 2 days. What we did not know at the start of the day was that this would be a fascinating day of off-roading in the mud, driving on the rapidly thawing Lena River, some breathtaking views of the river, its escarpments and forests, and a very enjoyable picnic lunch in (relatively) warm sunshine. to read the full post

Mayday parade Yakutia style (Yakutsk, Russia)

Journal entry for Wednesday 1st May, 2013 (day 28, miles 0)

May 1st, May Day is a big celebration in most of the ex Soviet countries and it was no exception today in the city of Yakutsk. Inna (our young lady interpreter) offered last night to show us around during the parade and as arranged she was at our door just after 11:00 am and out we went to join the crowds along Lenin St where the parade would march. In addition to a parade celebrating labor (workers, as is traditional) the Yakut people have added their own twist to the day and many groups marched in traditional costumes and at the end of the march a circle dance (Osuokhay) was performed. The traditional time to perform the Osuokhay is the summer solstice, and it is still performed then, but a small version was performed today in the Square of Friendship (one of a number of squares in the city). The circular nature of the Osuokhay celebrates the unity of people and nature. It was a great day for photographs of interesting people and costumes. to read the full post

Russian Easter, our repair plans - I am off to Berlin (Yakutsk, Russia)

Journal entry for Sunday 5th May, 2013 (day 32, miles 0)

This morning Alexander picked me up at 5:30 and drove me to the airport. GXV has shipped a box of parts and tools to our son Brendon in Berlin and I am off to collect them. It turns out that today is also Easter Sunday for the Russian Orthodox Church so Alexander also delivered a couple of hand painted Easter eggs for Nina to enjoy while I was away. to read the full post

Yaw harps, Nina's day at the Homus museum (yakutsk, Russia)

Journal entry for Monday 6th May, 2013 (day 33, miles 0)

Today Maria organized for Nina to go to the Homus or Jewish Harp or Jaw Harp Museum. She saw more of the costumes and way of life of the Sakha people but the highlight for her was the display of the variety of jaw harps from around the world and the enthusiastic performance by one harpist. Jaw harps are made of bone, bamboo, wood and metal, come in many sizes and are found in many different counties from Africa to South America but not Australia it seems. Even Abraham Lincoln was photographed playing a jaw harp. Nadia from the local university came over to translate. to read the full post

Diamonds (Yakutsk, Russia)

Journal entry for Tuesday 7th May, 2013 (day 34, miles 0)

Today was a day of beauty. The Yakutia territory nearly 1/2 the size of Australia has a lot of wealth in its minerals especially gold and diamonds and it was this Maria took Nina to see at the museum today. In a beautifully modern, climate controlled, environment she was able to see some original nuggets of gold, as well as cut and uncut diamonds followed by ornate jewelry from the past and the present. All very beautiful. No photographs allowed and in fact one could only see the display with the help of a guide and the lighting was timed so that if you asked too many questions the lights went off and one had to move on. to read the full post

Rob returns with replacement parts and tools (Yakutsk, Russia)

Journal entry for Wednesday 8th May, 2013 (day 35, miles 0)

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Victory day, Yakutia dinner, ice tunnel (Yakutsk, Russia)

Journal entry for Thursday 9th May, 2013 (day 36, miles 0)

I arrived at Yakutsk airport at 8:30 this morning with some very heavy luggage, but in good spirits as my return trip had gone off without a hitch. All my concerns about how I would get all those parts and tools through Russian customs were for nothing as I just walked through the nothing to declare gate without any problems. It so happens that May 9th is celebrated in Russia as Victory Day and there is a big parade (a bit like Australian ANZAC Day) with wreath laying, and speeches by prominent people. We spent a couple of hours with Alexander, Maria and a very large crowd watching the proceedings. Nina got a lot of good photos. to read the full post

Fixing the truck (and other interesting observations) (M56 - km 130, Russia)

Journal entry for Friday 10th May, 2013 (day 37, miles 76)

Today was the big day. Would all those parts and tools be sufficient and enable us to fix our truck. Of course before we could even start the repairs we had to get to the truck and as previously this required a trip across the Lena River on a hovercraft and a couple of taxis. It was quite surprising to see how much the river had changed in the last week. It was still filled with ice, thus preventing navigation by traditional boats, but now the ice was mushy with large sections of open water. It seemed that the current condition was harder for the hovercraft as the price was 50% higher than last time we traveled. to read the full post

Pot-holes as far as the eye can see! (Solov'yosk, Russia)

Journal entry for Monday 13th May, 2013 (day 40, miles 2,762)

The past three days have been a real test of patience and endurance as we picked our way along 1000km of rough roads to arrive at tonights camp near the village of Solov'yosk a mere 45 km from the southern end of the M56 (or the Lena Highway, the road to Yakutsk). Tonight we are in an old gravel pit next to some water and have enjoyed a few minutes in the waning afternoon sun. We are looking forward to getting a respite from this road and its pot-holes, and hope that the M58 (the main Vladivostok-Chita road) west is in better condition. to read the full post

Back on the M58 - a chance to cleanup and install the new water pump (M56 – 1340km, Russia)

Journal entry for Tuesday 14th May, 2013 (day 41, miles 2,905)

Today we escaped from the pot holes of the M56 and to our relief the first few hundred kilometers of the M58 west towards Chita were paved and smooth. The last 45km of the M56 took us about 1.5 hours (which was consistent with our average speed over the previous 3 days) and then with relief we arrived at the large and elaborate intersection between the M56 and the M58, turned right (west) and commenced to eat away at the 990 km between us and Chita. to read the full post

Now the refrigerator! (M56 – 1738km, Russia)

Journal entry for Wednesday 15th May, 2013 (day 42, miles 3,103)

Late last night Nina noticed that the refrigerator seemed not to be working; and sure enough after a little investigation it was clear that the control panel lights were operating but the compressor was not running. Hence nothing was being cooled down. We could not believe it; yet another thing in this camper that had stopped working. We spent a little while discussing where we could get a new refrigerator and how we would cope without one. Then since it was late (like 22:00) we knew that Roger at GXV would be awake and at work so we called him (actually sent him an SMS to call us). His reaction mirrored ours, "you have got to be kidding". to read the full post

Washing the truck again (M58 Road Side Parking, Russia)

Journal entry for Thursday 16th May, 2013 (day 43, miles 3,311)

We started the day with an over cast and cold morning (38°F) as our route continued through hilly forested countryside. Mid morning the trees disappeared and suddenly we were in a grassland of wide valleys and rolling hills. By lunch time the sun was out and the weather was warm and finally looked and felt like spring. Mid afternoon we found a creek that we could get down to and spent some time washing the truck and topping up our water supply. The electric emersion pump we decided to bring for this purpose has already justified its existence. to read the full post

Chita (M55 Road Side Parking, Russia)

Journal entry for Friday 17th May, 2013 (day 44, miles 3,462)

The highlight of today was a drive into, and a look around, the city of Chita (Чита). Though our visit was not without its challenges. First amongst these was that the entry road from the east was closed, though we only worked this out after we tried it and came to a dead end. The entry from the north was open but the road was in what you might call a rough condition. In places it was simply mud and gravel and was presenting a 4x4 challenge to some of the smaller vehicles. to read the full post

Best and worst of our vehicle (M55 A field beside the road, Russia)

Journal entry for Saturday 18th May, 2013 (day 45, miles 3,742)

Today we wanted to cover 400+km and be close enough to Ulan Ude tonight so that tomorrow we could get to the city mid morning to spend some time there looking and doing chores. As it turned out the weather was not great, 39°F this morning, cloudy and windy all day, and the road, though paved, was terrible. So today we got to experience the best and worst of our GXV expedition vehicle. to read the full post

Baikal, still iced over (Lake Baikal, Russia)

Journal entry for Sunday 19th May, 2013 (day 46, miles 3,889)

The M55 enters the city of Ulan Ude (Улан Удэ) from the south along the Selenge River, and this morning in bright sunshine it was a pleasant, even pretty, drive. At first glance the city appears modern but with a different feel to the other Russian cities we have so far visited. A lot more timber fences around the outer suburban houses, some Buddhist shrines and generally a more "Mongolian" feel (though I should probably say Buhrat, as that is the name of the dominant local indigenous peoples). to read the full post

Baikal, washing day (Lake Baikal, Russia)

Journal entry for Monday 20th May, 2013 (day 47, miles 3,889)

It turned out to be a lazy day beside the lake. Initially we had intentions of moving on and exploring the lake after doing some washing. But overcast skies and cool weather meant the washing dried slowly and as the day wore on it became obvious that we were not going to move. Hence we settled into some reading and periodic checks of the washing. to read the full post

Exploring the Baikal coast (Cafe M55, Russia)

Journal entry for Tuesday 21st May, 2013 (day 48, miles 4,130)

Today we needed to move on so the plan was to explore Baikal's east coast by following the road north until it headed away from the lake. Fortunately the day was sunny and warm and the exploration was both pleasant as well as producing some great views (and we hope photographs). to read the full post

A crappy weather day (Angosolka, Russia)

Journal entry for Wednesday 22nd May, 2013 (day 49, miles 4,323)

There is not much to say about today. The weather was crappy, windy and dusty when we woke, and during the day rain arrived and made for a miserable day of driving. For most of the day we followed the southern shore of Lake Baikal but did not really see much of the lake as the railway occupies the prime real estate next to the lake shore for the entire length of the coast. Also today the road was crappy. Most of the length was paved road that has been patched over and over again but with some sections that have simply fallen apart and it is now a combination of gravel and broken pavement. Our new strategy for bad roads is simply go slow enough that it is not too tough on the vehicle and its occupants. to read the full post

Mongolian Visa (Irkutsk, Russia)

Journal entry for Thursday 23rd May, 2013 (day 50, miles 4,381)

What a difference a day makes. This morning we were greeted by bright sunshine and as the day wore on it became warm. An early start got us into Irkutsk by about 10:00 and we easily found a parking place on Gagarin Boulevard right next to the Inturist Hotel and right beside the Angara River from where we walked about 1 km to the Mongolian Consulate and within 10 minutes had submitted our visa application; pick up passports with visas 3:00pm Friday. to read the full post

The Baikal road (Listvyanka, Russia)

Journal entry for Friday 24th May, 2013 (day 51, miles 4,423)

We occupied ourselves this morning doing some chores in the truck and then some grocery shopping at the famous Irkutsk market while waiting for 3:00pm and our Mongolian visas to roll around. This is the third time I have been to the markets in Irkutsk and it still facinates me. There is a large indoor food market selling all kinds of vegetables, meats, fish, nuts and almost what ever you could think of as well as a wide range of prepared food ready to eat. Now that the weather is warm there is an outside extension selling vegetables and plants. to read the full post

A morning in Listvyanka (Sludyanka, Russia)

Journal entry for Saturday 25th May, 2013 (day 52, miles 4,531)

After admiring the view from our overnight spot we headed down the road to Listvyanka and found a spot in the lakeside parking lot. It was still early for the Russians, the parking lot was sparcely occupied and all the souvenir stalls and food stalls were just being set up. to read the full post

Good bye Baikal (Cafe M55, Russia)

Journal entry for Sunday 26th May, 2013 (day 53, miles 4,713)

Today we simply retraced our steps on the M55 as it traversed the southern shores of Lake Baikal. The weather added to the sense of "having been here before" as the day started with low cloud and rain (same as last time on this section of road). But as the day wore on the sun appeared and we got the benefit of a more spring like day to read the full post

South to Mongolia (Road to Kyakhta, Russia)

Journal entry for Monday 27th May, 2013 (day 54, miles 4,849)

Today we turned south towards Mongolia and the next chapter in our journey. The weather was cold and windy as we continued to retrace our route to Ulan Ude and then onto the A165 south towards the border town of Kyakhta (Кяхта). Not far down the A165 we stopped for morning tea and bumped into another overland vehicle. A couple of Austrian guys in a expedition truck that they built themselves(on an ex-Austrian army Steyr chassis). They have been on the road since March and started in Turkey, through Iran, Georgia, Azebijan and Russia and like us are on their way to Mongolia. Their truck is larger and heavier than ours, 17,000 KG versus 11,000. We had a chat about their experiences in Iran while sharing our morning tea of Russian cream cake. to read the full post

Into Russia (Altai region, Russia)

Journal entry for Tuesday 9th Jul, 2013 (day 97, miles 6,890)

Bright sunshine had us up before 8:00 am looking around the main and only street in the village to see what was happening and when we should start lining up for the border. I took the opportunity to exchange most of our remaining Mongolia money for Russian roubles and Nina got the chance to take some photos of a lady milking a yak. to read the full post

Views, rivers, camping spots everywhere (Kurata, Russia)

Journal entry for Wednesday 10th Jul, 2013 (day 98, miles 7,012)

Today we had great weather, good road and just fabulous scenery. The route pretty much traversed the Altai Mountains by following a series of river valley's with one substantial climb over a pass to add variety. The rivers we followed were generally big and fast flowing, sometimes with steep gorges, and sometimes with grass banks. We frequently passed through nice little villages, that although clearly of modest means were well maintained and tidy. We have not seen any of the wide spread trash/garbage that we saw in Siberia. We saw many places catering to tourists (though we assume Russian tourists), rafing outfits on the fast rivers, hotels, and places that looked like camp grounds. We also saw a lot of cars and small SUVs with their roofs loaded with luggae - we assumed they were the tourists enjoying this fabulous mountain playground. There were miles of delightful (possible) camping spots along the banks of the rivers and we were a little sad that we needed to keep moving rather than enjoy these spots. to read the full post

Russians on vacation (Katun River near Manzherok, Russia)

Journal entry for Thursday 11th Jul, 2013 (day 99, miles 7,105)

We started our travels today in, and after, some heavy rain falls but quickly the clouds cleared away and another nice summers day appeared. The road (we are traveling is the M52 which for the past two days was also called the Chuisky Trakt) continued to follow river valleys and wind between rounded mountains. As the day progressed we saw more signs of Russian tourism and Russians with vacation toys or camping gear on the tops of their cars. to read the full post

Farm land, first world, more vacationers (A Field M52, Russia)

Journal entry for Friday 12th Jul, 2013 (day 100, miles 7,202)

Today we left behnd the last of the Altai mountains. From our riverside camp our route continued for much of the day beside the ever widening expanse of the Katun River, passng througn many small townships catering to holiday makers (we even found some good super markets). The road was excellent making it easy and the traffic increasingly dense and frantic. If we ever needed proof that Russia is a first world country with a large fun-loving middle class today was that proof. to read the full post

Weddings, and a Rock Concert (Barbaul, Russia)

Journal entry for Saturday 13th Jul, 2013 (day 101, miles 7,291)

Today we were intent on finding some internet as we needed to catch up on emails related to visas for those Central Asian Countries. So our goal was the city of Barnaul where we hoped we might find an internet cafe or get good reception for our cellular modems. So throughout the morning we motored along with moderate traffic on good roads through lush farmland to read the full post

Last days in Russia (A349, Russia)

Journal entry for Tuesday 16th Jul, 2013 (day 104, miles 7,493)

We have spent the past 3 days (14th,15th, 16th) on the A340 from Barnaul to Rubtsovsk and the border into Kazakhstan. We have been forced to travel slowly because our Kazak Visa does not start until July 17th. Had we given a little more thought to our situation last week, and had a little more knowledge about the country side south of Barnaul we could easily have spent some extra time in the Altai Mountains, that would have been more interesting and more comfortable than the hot, flat farm land we have been in the past 3 days. to read the full post