Presentation on theme: "By road… With Evgeny and Mark. Subject: Vladivostok to Moscow! (9 th August 2009) Some pictures from Vladivostok. We were there during the celebration."— Presentation transcript:
Subject: Vladivostok to Moscow! (9 th August 2009) Some pictures from Vladivostok. We were there during the celebration for the Russian Navy day. Vladivostok is home to Russia's Pacific Fleet. We went down to the beach where crowds of people were gathering to watch the flotilla cruise past a special vantage point where the admirals were inspecting the fleet. It took most of the day, so imagine how much vodka the old Admiral would have drunk during that period!!! He would probably think he had twice as many ships! They did some fancy pyrotechnics making ships disappear in a cloud of smoke, some cannon fire, lots of machine gun fire etc. Despite the crowds, I followed my mate wondering where we were going. We entered a tall building one street back from the water front, went up to the top in the lift, up some secluded stairs, out through a little door and.... Wow! We were on the roof of this big building with views over looking the whole harbour! Only 1 other small group of people had managed to find this. I was amazed how he found this, and he told me he was there last year. It was a better seat than the old Admiral had, but I guess after all the vodka he would have fallen off the roof! Da Svedanya... Mark Vladivostok Railway station. This post represents 9288 kms from Moscow by rail.
Russian Navy Day. Vladivostok Harbour “Which way Vladimir?” Vladivostok
Subject: Khabarovsk to Baikal Lake (10 th August 2009) Do you remember that "Roxette" song Sleeping in my car? We drove overnight to Khabarovsk, another city on the Far East of Russia on the Amour River. We actually had to drive North to go around the Northern part of China which juts into Russia. (Later we can only pick up Chinese radio stations which made us laugh...) The road into here was quite bad and on arrival we inspected the front tyres and noticed both wheels had bulges in the tyres from crashing over the pot holes, so we had to get both of them repaired here. We walked around the city centre and along the river even though we were tired. Beautiful city with lovely collection of churches and people soaking up the sun lying on the sandy beach of the river. Next stop was Chita, just a short 3000kms away! Aaaarrrggghhh! Ok, better get going.... Mark! Vintage tractor in the riverside park Khabarovsk, Eastern Russia
Outback fuel stop, Russian Style! Those famous Russia roads! (Not russian anywhere with these potholes!) Trans-Siberian Railway Ice hockey stadium, Khabarovsk
Subject: Lake Baikal and Irkutsk (12 August 2009) The road condition lived up to our expectation... lucky we weren't expecting anything better. We wanted to put our poor little car on the train to cover the worst part, but they would not take it unless we went all the way to Moscow. (How boring!) So we had no choice but to drive. After 100's of kilometres of crawling over bad roads, we came across the most beautiful super highway imaginable. All newly finished and ohhh sooooo smooth. What a dream! So I cranked up the speed. Although there weren't many cars, they all past me even though I was going 140 km/hr. So I asked the sleeping bundle in the back... what IS the speed limit? "Actually its 90 km/h but the next police station is 2000 kms away, so do what ever you like" Really?.... so I did. I just want to say, never buy a Honda accord. The speedo maxes out at 190, and the engine cuts out at 200 km/h. I must also clarify here, for any police that may be reading this, that the attached photo of maxed out speedo has been photo shopped as I would never encourage driving above the speed limit on dodgy tyres that have had to be repaired once already. In fact before we reached our next destination, a pot hole claimed our first front wheel which had the tyre pushed off the rim completely ruining the tyre and some small damage to the rim. Luckily we anticipated this and had 2 complete spares in the boot. We finally arrived very early to the first sights of Lake Baikal. Have you ever heard of this place? Its in Eastern Siberia and contains 20% of all the known fresh water on planet earth. Amazing eh? That is more than the great lakes in America!!! OK, it may not look as big as the great lakes, but at 700 kms long, it is more than 1.5 kms deep. We were so happy to see the lake, we parked on the shore, washed the car, ate some left overs from the floor of the car, and mucked about on the beach. We even contimplated a swim but the water was ohhh so cold! The local fish monger stopped by to see what all the excitement was. He was ridding a 3 wheeled russian bike with some special fish in the back only found in Lake Baikal. He could see we were not interested in buying fish, but seeing my interest in his bike, he let me have a ride. Next stop... the beautiful city of Irkutsk with its fantastic collection of churches. But no time to stop. After a quick look around the city, it was back to singing "Sleeping in my car" Seeya...
We are so happy to finally make it to Lake Baikal! The local fisherman let ’ s me ride his bike …. The corner shop always has a good selection (more beer … more beer!) Petrol Bowser shows litres on a clock face
Subject: Krasnoyask! The most beautiful... (18 th August 2009) Ммммм... Краснояск это любимый город!!! (English? Krasnoyask is my favourite city!!!) We arrived early morning in Krasnoyask. Its a beautiful city (as the name suggests) which is cut in half by the mighty Enicey River. So famous in Russia is this city, that all the pictures used on the most common bank note, the lowly 10 roubles, are from this beautiful city. Some of the rivers we have crossed or passed flow into this big river. (Rivers such as Angara) Outside the town at the other end is a huge hydro electric powerstation. We looked from the bridge downstream through the early morning summer mist to see the water bubbling out from this massive structure. We continues driving upstream to the other side of the powerstation where the river has been damn. Here I called it a lake but was reminded that it is still the Enicey river. It has a yacht club and small boat harbour and we tested the water around the boats and found it to be a pleasant temperature so we changed into our toggs and waded down the boat ramp for a very enjoyable morning swim. There were people nearby listening to us speaking English and ask Evgeniy where we came from. They were impressed that he was all the way from Volgagrad, but even more when they found out I was from Australia. We tried to park on the bridge to get some photos of the powerstation, but the security guarding the bridge quickly did their job and gave us the heave-ho. Probably thought we were terrorists planning a stike on the powerstation. We walked upstream to get some photos instead, passing men fly fishing for the salmon on their way upstream. We looked around the city centre, saw the bridge on the banknote, had something to eat then time to hit the road again...
Not quiet Big Ben Kransnoyask city centre Hydro PowerStation, River Enicey River Enicey Need anything from the local shop?
Subject: Novosibursk, geographical centre of Russia (24 th August 2009) The many secrets of Novosibursk! Many people have asked me why our car looks so crappy, and what's the story with the white stuff on the front. Have you got a minute?.... then I'll tell you. Before we lost the last sight of bitumen, there was this little cafe in a village of about 10 houses. There specialty was not the borsch soup, but somehow the workshop next door got hold of a huge consignment of surgical sticking plaster. Now whether they did a raid on the United Nations store for world war 3, or maybe they were made in the soviet times to keep workers busy and they had a surplus, or perhaps they had passed the "used by" date, remainds a mystery. But these boys had boxes and boxes of this stuff and they made some nice vodka money by wrapping up the front of people's cars to prevent stone damage from the nightmare they call a road which we about to meet. (They all laughed when I said "Eta ne doroga, eta Prekol!" Its not a road, its a joke!) So they put some fine mesh over the radiator and taped up all other surfaces that would be likely to suffer damage, including the nice little driving lights down under the bumper which we later used to spot my first ever bear in Russia. He was crossing the road and disappeared down the embankment. We stopped and put the torch out the window only to see it was a big wild pig! Not a bear afterall. Anyway, if you look closely at some of the later photos, you can notice the bandages starting to peel off. They do this when the speed exceeds 180km/hr. So in this state, I nick-named our car "The mummy" with its half peeling bandages. On the bad roads, our poor car still suffered from lack of ground clearance, and at one point after getting back to bitumen for the next high speed dash to make up time, we noticed and scraping sound under the car. The exhaust pipe was dragging on the ground! We searched for some fencing wire to tie it up without success. Its for this very reason I always have some cable ties in my tool box. They are the best thing since they put beer in cans! Further investigation showed the pipe had been pushed back and fallen off all the hanger pins. I came up with a marine engineers solution. We found a stick and used one of the support brackets for the armco railing to push it back. I held the stick between the muffler which was resembling a frying pan, and the bracket while Evgeniy reversed the car backwards into the stick. It took a few goes, but eventually it had bent back enough to hang it back up again. Novosibursk was our next major city. It is the 3rd largest city in Russia after Moscow and St Petersburg. It is a modern city built in the 1890's as the main crossing point of the Ob river for the trans-siberian railway. The original bridge was later destroyed in the russian revolution, and a section of the old riveted box girder bridge was later put in display next to the new bridge in the city centre as a monument. There are many secret things about this place. The friend we are staying with has a business that is internet based, so doesn't need any glossy street front address. So his office is in the basement of one city centre building. He reckons there is secret floor below built during soviet times for storage of munitions etc. He also reckons the theatre building in the city centre (with me out the front with statues) has secret offices deep under ground for the KGB. (Now FSB). I better go, they are probably monitoring this email!!! Da Svedanya comrades!
Heavy Rain … Where ’ s the road? The Centre of Russia We found this muffler shaped frying pan under our car …
Subject: Crazy Russian Police! Did I tell you about the Russian highway patrol? The ДПС in English DPS, (road post service... its a standard joke that if they are a service why they make so much trouble for the average motorist instead of serving them!) They have checkpoints every hundred kilometres or so and regularly stop cars and trucks just to check your papers are all in order (ver r yor paapis!!) So finally it was my turn to get stopped. Luckily I had slowed down when entering the city limits, but was still speeding a bit, so nervously pulled over when directed. Evgeniy was sleeping in the back. I pulled the big packet of documents you need from the rear seat pocket and showed them to the kind gentleman. He looked nodded his head and realised I was a foreigner. So he wanted to see my license. He looked at my Australian drivers license and $ signs appeared in his eyes. (Not roubles... dollars!) No problems, I went to the boot and got my international drivers license from my bag and showed him. He shook his head and directed me to follow him inside. Hmmm I was feeling guilty about drivining at 200km/hr and speeding on the way into this town, but nothing seemed to matter except my fake aussie license. He handed all the papers to the supervisor sitting behind a desk behind a small window. He looked, shook his head and explained to me in Russian that my license was not valid. I tried in my worst russian to explain all about the services of the victorian RACV in Australia and how they reckon "she'll be right" but he didn't agree. So I could see we were not getting anywhere and I needed some help from a tranlator. So I went to the car and woke up Evgeniy and told him we were in deep doo-doo. He was awake by now anyway, just calmly nodded his head, pulled out a folder from the seat pocket, extracted a document and followed my back inside. After this there was long winded discussions and the magic document was presented with lots of finger pointing from Evgeniy and slightly raised voices brough raised eyebrows from the supervisor. Finally the supervisor lost patience, packed up all our documents and told us to go. As we walked out, I asked my amazing friend what was that secret document? He told me he expected this attempt to extort money from a foreigner, so he had found on the internet and printed a copy of the driving treaty from all the world driving organisations. He told me that it states "Any license from another country that is written in roman style lettering, ie: not arabic, indian or chinese, would be recognised within the Russian Federation as reciprical rights to drive." Evgeniy pointed out to him that I didn't even need the stupid International License with its Russian translation. It is just an extra that would be nice to have but in fact was not even required. So... off we went again. As the road conditions were now ok, on our next long stop we got somebody to look under our car to try and find out why the exhaust was sounding like a hot rod (I liked it!). They found this flattened frying pan underneath our car. We got it replaced, and a new oxygen sensor which had been ripped out on the rough roads, for the computer fuel management system and off we went again... Seeya If you want to see Siberia in the winter, check out the link to these photos. (Not mine thank goodness!) http://www.panoramio.com/photo/1306150
Ekaterinburg Ekaterinburg, Russia ’ s 5 th largest city is at the foot of the Ural Mountains, separating Europe and Asia. This city is famous for many things, like being the place where Tsar Nicholas and his family took refuge and were later murdered by the Bolsheviks during the revolution in 1918. More importantly for us, it ’ s the home of the Ural Motorcycle!!! The old railway station “ Church on the blood ” built on the site where the Romanovs (the last Royal Family of Russia) were executed
Subject: Moscow at last! Arrived late and met with an ex-collegue and mate who put me up on his couch for a couple of nights. Next morning it was off to see the sights. And oh what sights they were! Even the rain could not dampen my excitement. Like seeing the Taj Mahal in India, to walk to the gates of Red Square and look through and see St Basil's standing at the end through the gate nearly made me wet my pants! I could not believe I was there!!!After walking around taking it all in, my next mission was to meet face to face the man who's statue adorns every city in Russia. When Lenin died 80 years ago, a crypt was built outside the wall of the kremlin inside red square, and he has waited for me to visit ever since. When the soviet union was dismantled there was a plan to remove Lenin and finally bury him, but they realised he has become a tourist attraction, so they left him alone. What would he think about his status changing from great leader lying in state, to tourist attraction? Maybe they should get “ Madame Too-silly ” to fill the empty corners of his crypt with Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monore and Ned Kelly? One and a half hours waiting in a long cue in the rain was worth the 30 seconds I had with him, as the guard told me to move along, no stopping.. but it was worth every second. I must say being dead 80 years he looked better than me still alive! But I couldn't help thinking about his ideas. Across the other side of Red Square is the most magnificent, grand building with fantastic archetecture call ГУМ (Goom in English). I don't know what it was originally, but has now been converted to one of those exclusive, expensive shopping centres... you know the "American icon of capitalism" style. And it just amazed me to have this "so" strong icon of capitalism on one side of red square, and there is my mate Vlad with all the socialist ideas still inside his head on the other side, and I cant help thinking he would be muttering under his breathe (if he did breathe) "What are they doing across the road! Why don't they listen to me!!!"
Capitalism arrives in Russia! … inside The Goom centre “ Western Capitalism ” sponsored by …. The “ country boy ” from Korsakov drinking his beer opposite the Kremlin Goom CentreSt. Basils The Kremlin Red Square
When Max got home from work, we went out for dinner then he took me to a club. It was like a Russian "Timezone". We had a world championship air hockey tournament, Australia and Russia went down to the wire with Russia winning in the final. Then onto the pool table. All this time we were knocking back a few amber saps, from a big frosty beer glass, the type I had seen many times before and having somewhat of a fetish for beer glasses, I asked Max where I could buy a glass like this. Surely in Moscow there would be some place? So Max shouted the next round and came with the answer from the barman.. "Why would you want to buy a beer glass? Just do like everyone else and steal it" What? The barman really said that? Yep! (dont need to ask me twice...) Next we went upstairs for some 10 pin bowls before getting the last Metro train home. Poor Max had to work the next day. As for me, I looked around the city and found a shop selling leather jeans! I have seen the mafia boys in Korsakov wearing these and always wanted a pair but could never find them. So now I have my own. They are very handy with multiple uses:1. To look like Mafia boy from Korsakov 2. To look Gay in the nightclubs 3. To look like a bad-arse bikie. (You can make up your own mind!) The Moscow Metro stations are beautifully decorated The stolen beer glass makes it onto the Metro! Max pushes Russia to an early lead in the world championship
The next day Max took a sickie. He worked with us in the Far East but landed a job as the safety manager for Air Liquid Russia, much better than his career path working with us. He took me to the aerospace museum. The thing I really like about Russia, is that they did everything in the world that everyone else did, but being isolated and not wanting to talk to anyone, did it in a completely different way! They even upstaged the American's in the space race forcing the them to open their mouths and say they would walk on the moon, then have to spend squillions on fancy movie sets in the Navada desert to make it look like they really did. I even saw Belka and Strelka, the first 2 space dogs to return home to their masters after failing to find a tree to relieve themselves in space. Lots too on Russia's favourite son Yuri Gregarin, the first man in space who later died in a plane crash. Subject: Aerospace Museum
Of course a trip to any country could not be complete for me without visiting the technical museum. How amazing was this place with big models of steamboilers all built in a slightly different way, and models of hydro electric powerstations like the one at Krasnoyask. Incidentally, did you hear about the one further upstream where there was a big accident with 50 people dead? Nasty... I was also very interested in the nuclear power station section where they had actual fuel rods cut away to see the fluid flow paths inside. Then of course the old Russian cars and Motocycles!! No Triumphs here!Well finally time to leave Moscow and return to Sakhalin over on the Far East where I live. The domestic airport is one of the old soviet style where things are done in a crazy way. Max came with me to make sure things went well, but they didn't! Got all the way to the end of the metro system, no problems! Then onto the bus for the short distance to the airport. But the traffic in the outer reaches of Moscow had to be seen to be believed. The bus moved out into the main road, and stopped. Moved 10 metres and stopped. There were people walking faster than this and if I didn't have any bags I would have walked too. Time seemed to vanish and the plane was long gone before I reached the airport. Lots of dramas with the ticket office who refused to honor my ticket now the plane was gone, and the new fare was 40,000r or $2,000 aud. I could fly around the world for that amount, so I told them I would walk back to the East! Home again, and lots of phone calls to my boss and new tickets were emailed for only 10,000r ($500).Next day I was alone and reached the airport 3 hours too early, but sure I would not miss this flight. I handed my passport to the check in desk and the girl there nearly fell off her chair and called the customs man over to "Check this out!!" He was waving his arms up and down and speaking so quickly with excitement there was no chance to catch what he was on about. So they directed me to an interview booth, just like you see on Border security on the tele. But this is only domestic? What the....Another man with lots of brass on his shoulders came in with the brass knuckles and rubber hose... (OK, I'm being silly now...) He asked me in perfect English how it was possible that I registered my passport in Vladivostok 2 weeks ago, and had not been seen since, now I turn up in Moscow? (It must have driven the KGB crazy!) I explained I drove a car from Vladivostok. He looked at me like I had 2 heads and asked how can I prove this? Quick thinking in these situations is one thing I am good at having experience with customs and immigration in Korsakov... I pulled out my camera and we had a good chat and laugh at photos of me in Lake Baikal, the river Enicey, Novosobursk, etc. He explained it is necessary to register each night where I slept. I asked how it is possible in the middle of Siberia sleeping in our car. I sang the Roxette song to him until he could take no more, shook my hand and sent me on my way.Sorry for all this waffle, but the story is not finished yet!
Arriving at work, I gave my passport to the visa office in my building as normal to register my arrival. Next day I get a "Please come to my office" from our top ranking manager. He wasn't looking to happy when I got there and told me the immigration office went nuts when they tried to register my passport, and they want to fine the company for breach of the immigration act 800,000r. "It is because of your actions our company will receive this, and if they fine us, we will pass it on to your account" wow... I was thinking $4000 is a lot of money, then realised it is $40,000! I dont even have that much! And I told him I would instead do the gaol time. They claim I had been working for the past 2 weeks with the company failing to register me. So I sent my passport back to the visa office with a copy of my ticket showing I had just arrived, and a letter explaining the story.So do you know what the smart girls in the visa office did... (Oh, they are so clever) They thought, wait a minute, Mark doesn't live in the big city here, he lives in korsakov. So they took my passport to the local post office in my village, and the lady didn't even look, just stamped it and gave it back, nothing said!!! You beauty!!!So, now... its the second last day here in Russia for me. My time is over and I will return to work in Australia starting next month. You will be relieved not to get such long stories!!! Except... did I tell you I will take the family to visit China before settling into a normal life in Australia. Da Svedanya!