Four days from Khabarovsk to Chita

Where to start? Four days’ riding since Khabarovsk and one is slowly starting understand the immensity of Siberia and by extension Russia. We have ridden close to three thousand kilometres since our departure from Vladivostok and only seemed to have inched a small portion of the way back towards London. Our request for warmer weather has been answered with 35 degree Celsius days. Like all fickle voters we now want a littler cooler, but no such luck, we will have to live with this for the next couple of months.

You wouldn’t want to be a runaway truck needing this

Wavy road

Early morning mist out of Sbega

The trans Siberian highway, which is the term used for a number of roads linking St Petersburg and Vladivostok, is in surprisingly good condition considering some of what we have read and heard. We have seen little current major road construction so far, we are in Chita, but along the highway we pass many teams working on vegetation clearance, filling in potholes, rebuilding bridges and adding crash barriers. The summer is short and maintenance and upgrades have a small window in which to be completed. I have seen no evidence of the snow clearing machinery so common in North America, maybe it does not snow much, or the road does not get cleared. I will leave someone else to research this.

Just a few works in progress

Some stretches remind you how long this road is

Love those birch forests!

A significant amount of work has gone into the construction of the road we travelled on. Between some hills, very high embankments carry the road giving unsurpassed views over the treetops. In some areas the road has many undulations , I presume due to subsidence, possibly caused by the materials available as road base being sourced locally in the swampier areas. This has made progress easy for us, in addition traffic, is light. What we have noticed is that the tar finishes pretty abruptly off the main highway. Our one foray into a local town in search of fuel had us driving on gravel, dirt, through water in a tunnel, across a disused runway and through the local rubbish tip all on larger marked roads on the GPS and MapsMe. Many of the turnoffs just end in greenery and judging by the amount of water around in many places probably not too solid either.

Her petrol station does not work, she showed us the way to one that does

Will we drop our bikes as the non-petrol lady said?…

Is this the right way out of Magdagachi?

Lovely riding through a birch forest

Outside Magdagachi – the detour was worth it

Back from our tour of Magdachi after a 564km day – Anne is spent

The scenery has been surprising in vivid nature of the greens, and not unreasonably given our changing latitudes, quite varied. We started with silver birch forests, moved to more open, possibly cleared land then pine forrest. It does become dryer and farmland starts to predominate.

Typical village

Larger wildlife is almost in invisible, roadkills and signs of, so familiar in Australia and North America are almost nonexistent, my assumption is the lack of traffic gives quiet passages of time for wildlife to cross safely, unlike more congested roads that force the wildlife to take risks.

Smaller wildlife is much more obvious, early morning will see the polite small mosquitos that wait to be asked to feed off you and their larger more obnoxious cousins who just dive straight in. When they retire after a hearty breakfast they are replaced by the swarm of 50-100 horseflies that appear before engine off regardless of the location. Quick on and off the motorbike is practiced and I will be contacting one glove manufacturer about the pervious nature of their product. Luckily as we have progressed West the magnitude of this problem has diminished although the motorbikes bear the marks of all the unfortunate insects that have met their demise at the windshields of Streak and Storm.

Lovely to be out in the open again!

Sorry butterfly 😦

Fairly constant companions in this sparsely populated region have been the steel rails of the Trans Siberian Railway and the transmission towers bringing electricity to the towns en route and supplying the locomotives hauling the myriad of wagons and passenger trains. So many seem to haul what I assume to be empty looking open wagons in both directions, do they do this for fun? The railway runs alongside the road in some places, we cross from time to time and there are many intriguing but rusting sidings leading to long abandoned factories, likely from the Soviet era. We see dormant smokestacks, idle factories and abandoned apartment blocks poking out of the forrest, a testament to the changes that have occurred since centralised planning was abandoned following the collapse of the former Soviet Union.

Had to folow the tradition of this cafe!

Typical road side cafe with car and tyre repairs

Delicious Siberian dumplings

It would be wonderful to travel at a slower pace and take some of these side-roads and explore more, but we have to remember we only have a limited visa time in Russia, plus we set off to circumnavigate the globe in the Northern Summer of 2017. We will always miss opportunities, such as a motorcycle rally in Blagoveshchensk, but then that decision allowed us to meet the wonderful and generous Tanya at her Cafe. Tanya and Alexander and his family whom we met at lunch one day are the lasting memories we will carry on this trip, always back to the people. Life is choices, and we are happy with those we have made.

Alender, Tamara, Aliona and Dimitri

Tanya’s cafe, Krasnoyarovo

Lovely, generous Tanya in her cafe near Krasnoyarovo

Fuel, accommodation and toilets are day to day necessities and the location and quality of each varies. We have mostly be lucky at the end of each day in finding a reasonable place to stay and have included photos of couple of the more quirky fuel and accommodation stops. Internet modesty rules do not allow me to publish any photos of some toilets, that and the fear of dropping the iPhone.

We emptied the tank on the right, trying the next one now

You take can you can get! Semiozernyy

No power, no running water whatsoever but better then sleeping with Horse flies

Someone has a sense of humour in Siberia

– Anthony

Taking you through Primorsky Krai

We leave the Vlad Motor Inn, on the northern outskirts of Vladivostok, ready for a long day (with only a 30 day Russian visa, we need to motor to cross Russia, Mongolia, re-enter Russia and exit before the end of the 30 days) and excited to be starting this leg of our trip. The weather is not the best (just very wet fog again) but we are grateful it isn’t raining.

Just left Vladivostok city limits

Typical Soviet era apartments along the way

Beautifully painted houses brighten our dreary day

95% of cars in this area are right hand drive, reportedly a major cause of accidents

Such a good road this A-370!!

First road works

No time to wait for the steam roller

Where we had an early dinner outside Luchegorsk

Just south of Luchegorsk – it’s getting brighter!

Luchegorsk city limit monument

I have pinned a gostinitsa on our MapsMe – will they have a room for us we wonder?

Heading to Astoriya Gostinitsa (yellow and cream house) for the night, Luchegorsk

All I could find in the news about Luchegorsk that evening were articles on the town having being besieged by an invasion of 36 hungry bears back in Sept 2015! I am glad we weren’t there then.

We made good progress on day 1, having covered 470kms so we plan on covering only 270kms today and have the whole afternoon to visit Khabarovsk.

Our early morning fog north of Luchegorsk

Beautiful birch forests north of Luchegorsk

Typical Russian house, Dormidontovka

Old Russian church, Dormidontovka

Look!!!!! Blue skies!!!

Khabarovsk city limit monument

Lenin Square, Khabarovsk

In front of the Grado-Khabarovsk Cathedral of the Assumption of the Mother of God

Memorial to victims of WWII from Khabarovsk – so many dead…yet wars still continue…

Close up of the Memorial to victims of WWII from Khabarovsk – was there anyone left in the city?!

Spaso-Transfiguration cathedral, Khabarovsk

Street vendors, Khabarovsk

Bringing power to your home, Khabarovsk

One of many parks we walked through in Khabarovsk

Lenin street, Khabarovsk

Army Surplus store selling camouflage and equipment, Khabarovsk

I thought I’d make the most of the wifi here to share these photos with you now (no time for much commentary this time) as we don’t know what it will be like further along the Trans-Siberian Highway.

Anyway, all is well with us both, the road has been great, people friendly as always, the food pretty good too and I even had a cup of my favourite coffee from Ethiopia in Khabarovsk!! Life is good. And once again, thank you to our faithful followers for your messages and comments – it is great to feel connected to you all. Don’t expect to hear from us for a few days now. Til next time…

– Anne