(Goodbye Russia, Hello Mongolia)
We are now officially out of Russia.
A lot has happened, and it would take a lot of time to make a linear story, so I am going to summarize.
Past couples of weeks were quite movemented. Bike breakdowns, weather, roads...
It was all fun in the end (But I suppose it depends on the definition of fun 🙂 )
We managed to make it to Irkutsk as per Damien's post. But shortly after we had some police issues of the street coming out of the Internet Cafe. Our first paperwork examination with the police lead us to their office in an armored jeep. No money lost, just a little cultural exchange 🙂
What can I say about Russians... ?
Maybe they don't care about their environment as much as in Canada. Lots of plastic bottles and garbage on the side of the road, black smokes coming out of various places... The good side is that the train goes across the whole country...and bus stops are everywhere. Even the most remote places there is a bus shelter.
Throughout Siberia, a lot of people were selling vegetables and products they were directly getting from their environment. It is important to note that these people, already modest, depend a lot on their environment. A degradation of it would only increase their poverty. Truck drivers have been very courteous when passing us. The car drivers a bit less. We received a lot of honks... It is now just a reflex for me to wave a "hello/thank you" with my left hand. It is a well intentioned honk 90% of the time, but it is not the greatest thing to someone on a bike.
Along the road we met a lot of people... Very often we had the same questions (where are you going, where are you from, how many kms per day, how many speed your bike has, how much does it cost...)
Again this is a well intentioned gesture, but after 7000 kilometers, getting the same question day after day can take a toll on an individual. Russians have been very helpful to us. Very often people would come on their own to help. Sometimes not realizing how serious of a breakdown is a broken rack... people would still ask questions and try to chat while we were working hard to fix the issue.... But everything was out of good heart and without people's help everything would have been harder.
Russians were also very generous. We were offered from coffee to Vodka passing by bottles of beers (even started ones... !) Apples, grapes watermelons (hehe carrying it on a bike is interesting 🙂 )
So lots of help and lots of bike shops as well. There are many people we should thank (and we will do it once back in Canada) but I have to thank the people at Alpindustria.ru, Kemerovo.
A very special thank you to Den, Ilya, Nastya, Artim, Ksuna, Alex, Ivan...
Long to explain, but from the bike shop we ended having dinner together, drinks, sleeping at Ilya's place, getting a canadian kalxon, a t-shirt... I am looking forward to see them in the future for some ski/bike adventures 🙂
I had also the chance to meet people from Azerbaidjan, Tadjekistan, Uzbekistan... and talking Farsi (Persian) in Russia was really strange. Being able to communicate... freely. Russians have lots of various cultural aspect that can be found in persian culture (language, food,...) so I was not so lost anyways...
Some of the memorable words/cities with various significance ...
Moscow, Kazan, Omsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk
you and I we good
khrow manyyy days ?
We went from Irkutsk passed by lake Baikal (majestic lake surrounded by mountains)
After quite a few hills we made it to to Ulan Ude, where the landscape changed dramatically.
We crossed the Russian/Mongolian border a couple of days ago and "made" it to Ulan Bator (thirsty and hungry... a little bit 😉 )
(And my bike in a bad state... wheels like F1 wheels..., ...broken spokes, broken rack ... just the usual as Damien would say. We don't really care about these minor problems ! 🙂 We let them be.)
You know that there is only one road in Mongolia to Ulan Bator, when after biking for so long in Siberia and seeing no biker, you see three bikers in one day. (Two guys from Australia and one from France).
Ulan Bator is also small (the downtown).... I ran again into a french traveller we had met in Irkutsk. Monsieur Trepied Xavier (tiens... je te connais toi ??? 🙂 ) ... it was funny the way we met in Irkutsk.
There are a lot lot less cars on the road in Mongolia... but honking has increased by 80%. 1km behind us we hear the honkings...
A few pictures in Mongolia
We were trying to "hide" a bit 🙂
Yes it's a dry place... 😛
We managed to meet Zack, Sally and Nathan. They decided to choose another itinerary so Damien & myself will be heading to the Gobi desert in a couple of days.
Ulan bator is a cold city. It did snow yesterday and there is ice on the walkway during the day. The nights in the Gobi desert will be cold 🙂 I may have to go back to Russia where I have a job... 😉 I am going to open a screw/bolts shop somewhere along the siberian road. There are so many of them on the road...
ps: mad biker, from Chelybinsk, the email you left is not working... I tried to reply to you but it bounced back. If you can send the proper email. I will contact you. Thanks.