Along the Amur

Blagoveshchensk (Russia), 29.09.2013

The first day on the road through Russia’s Far East went so easy that it was likely to be a tough second day. I overslept in the morning, but made it on the road by 10:00 starting off with a quick daylight tour through the center of Khabarovsk. The town must have been a small charming outpost in the middle of nowhere a long time ago, in tsarist times. Through the morning traffic I made it to the main highway pretty quickly, and after turning west that stayed my direction for the rest of the day. I crossed the Amur river, that just some weeks ago had flooded vast areas around here, but now flowed peaceful under a long iron bridge reflecting the morning’s sunshine and the deep blue sky.

DSC_0002 DSC_0008 DSC_0009 DSC_0016The entire morning I drove through vast flat land, forests, marshes and swamps. The colors around me where just amazing, little green and tons of yellow, orange, red and brown. The high trees stood elegantly against the bright blue sky. The image of tall white trees with yellow leaves fluttering in the wind is something I’ll never forget, the trees seemed to dance in the wind. I drove for 700km through this landscape, the sun was shining and weather good. A few hills appeared every now and then. The road was pretty good, with just two stretches of construction. At km 550 of the day I left the main highway for a smaller road to Blagoveshchensk, the last major town before Chita, that was another 1500km from here. In between: nothing. I have no idea where I will sleep tomorrow night, on all maps there are no towns along the road ahead, and a few stops today made me realise the land off the main road is often a swamp if not outright covered in water, and there are flies and mosquitoes everywhere.

DSC_0018 DSC_0020 DSC_0028At 18:30 I reached Blagoveshchensk finally. It was the first major agglomeration of people living in one place I reached during the entire day, although it took me some time to find a real city. The road into town lead through industrial areas, train tracks and ruins of buildings. Then came an endless alley through Soviet concrete blocks, with quite some traffic, until I reached Lenin Street (every town has one around here), with a Lenin statue on the main square. It runs parallel to the Amur riverbank, on the other side is China. Of the two hotels featured in the LP guide, one was closed down and the other unfindable. I toured through the streets, and stopped since I had no luck. At a café in a basement I asked two waitresses that spoke no English if there was a hotel around, and they told me to drive around the block. I did, and after a while found a building with “hotel” in cyrillic written on it, in a courtyard behind a government building. The receptionist spoke no english, but we somehow managed to communicate on the basic things. “Do you have a room for tonight?” “Njet.” “Are there other hotels in the city?” “… 2400 RUB” “For 1 night?” “[Something in Russian]”, and I had a key in my hand. Then came a lengthy procedure to get all data necessary for my registration papers. My passport got fotocopied on every page, incl. the visas of Myanmar, Pakistan and other countries. And then I had a room for the night. I had feared worse, but it wasn’t too bad. I washed the car’s front window and mirrors, that were full of flies and dirt the wipers couldn’t clean. Then I went to the hotel restaurant, since in town I hadn’t seen any decent place that inspired confidence. Enough for today, who knows where I will be tomorrow night.

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Trip data

– Km driven: 709

– Hrs on the road: 9h

– Diesel l/100km: 9,6

– Daily high: 17 degrees Celsius

– Daily low: 6 degrees Celsius

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