Kyakhta (Russia), 05.10.2013
With the car checked up, food restocked and clothing cleaned, the time to move to the next adventure was ripe this morning. Weather wasn’t good as I drove out of town, and Irkutsk’s traffic signs drove me mad, but soon after breakfast I was on my way back through the forests towards Ulan Ude. I really hoped the sky would clear up after 10:00 or 11:00, as it so often had, to give me a chance to admire Lake Baykal properly. But I had no luck, the same rough, grey and distant sight as at the first encounter was what I got. Since a strong freezing wind blew and it kept raining, I didn’t leave the car to take pictures and just drove on. Continue reading “Towards Mongolia”
Irkutsk (Russia), 04.10.2013
Five days I had spent driving the over 4000km from Vladivostok to Irkutsk, it was time for a day’s rest and to prepare the trip through Mongolia. The morning started off quite bad. The hotel’s bathroom welcomed me with a strong smell as I opened the door (I’ve had this often in hotels in Russia and Central Asia strangely). There was no shower in the bathroom, just a giant Jacuzzi. With all the “luxury” in here they forgot the very basics. Continue reading “Irkutsk”
Irkutsk (Russia), 03.10.2013
Knowing it would be a short day of just 450km, I took it easy in the morning and slept. Driving tires quite a lot, I never realised it during the day but only in the mornings afterwards, when the alarm rang and it was hard to get up. Packing the car in front of the hotel, a cold wind blew in my face. The sky was clouded and grey, it looked like rain. I hoped to be lucky like the last days in escaping the bad weather after a couple of hours driving and left Ulan Ude quickly. Continue reading “Lake Baykal”
Ulan Ude (Russia), 02.10.2013
Driving a thousand km a day today finally showed some effect, since weather and landscape kept changing several times, creating a very welcome variety throughout the day. I left the trucker motel in the middle of nowhere as the sun rose behind the forest on the hill to the east. Temperature was below zero and the road covered with frost. The first two hours it dropped to -6, the road was a white line across a brown and grey winter landscape. Continue reading “To Ulan-Ude”
53 16′ 42″N 118 34′ 26″E (Russia), 01.10.2013
Today it is 5,5 months since the beginning of this journey, and it feels like seasons are wreaking havoc. Two weeks ago it was summer in Polynesia, a few days ago I left Vladivostok in autumn, and today winter started in the middle of nowhere in Siberia. I left Blagoveshchensk at 08:40 with 6 degrees, the highest temperature of the day. Before hitting the road I checked the riverside right in front of the hotel. On the other shore began China, but apart from some high rises there wasn’t much to see. Far more interesting were the tsarist buildings on the Russian side, incl. a statue of what I guessed was a military commander and explorer of this remote area. Seeing this man in his elegant uniform and moustache, I wondered how it must have been to discover this remote wilderness, thousands of km away from the civilisation of Moscow or St. Petersburg, with its adverse climate and vast spaces and without all the modern amenities and technology we have today.
Continue reading “Endless Forests, Vast Skies”
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.
Continue reading “Along the Amur”
Khabarovsk (Russia), 28.09.2013
Packing the car and preparing the trip in the early morning took me almost three hours and when I finally sat in the car at 09:13 I was sweating a lot. With 17 degrees Celsius outside and a sun that hadn’t decided yet if to shine or not, I drove through the center of Vladivostok towards the highway. As I passed the WWII heroes monument close to the submarine museum a magic scene appeared. The huge Golden Horn Bridge stood impressively over the bay that reflected the first morning light, colouring the entire scene in a silver light. Above the bridge the sun shined strongly from behind the thick white clouds. Hadn’t I found myself in the middle of a four lane motorway in morning traffic I would have stopped on the spot to admire this beautiful sight and take pictures. Adieu Vladivostok!
Continue reading “The Far East in Autumn Colors”
Vladivostok (Russia), 28.09.2013
This morning Yuri, my agent, picked me up at the hotel. We drove through grey Vladivostok, there was no sun like on the previous days. We reached a backyard with plenty of containers around and there he was, the brown one with the car inside. Yuri cut the seals open, we untied the car, I connected the battery. The Evoque started right away and slowly I rolled out of the container into the daylight. Finally, we’re back! Continue reading “The long way home”
Vladivostok (Russia), 27.09.2013
Sunshine welcomed me on a wednesday afternoon as I arrived in Vladivostok, the far eastern tip of the Eurasian continental mass and the starting point of my way back to Europe. In the early morning I had left rainy Tokyo, changed plane in Seoul (Korea) and finally arrived here. Formalities were short and uncomplicated, and around 15:30 I stood in the entrance hall of the small but modern airport. Time for a quick check on travel basics. The phone worked (I could call the agent that will get my car off the ship). Email on the Blackberry worked too. The ATM spoke English and German and spit out cash in Rubles or USD without any problems. And my credit card could easily pay the 200 RUB ticket for the airport train. Great! The complications from Japan had disappeared, weather was good, and the train that took me into town even had Free WiFi! Continue reading “Stuck in Vladivostok”