Saturday, June 19, 2010
The bikes got a bit of a birthday this morning, over above the normal checks, we replaced the filter skins (covers over the airfilters) as both were quite clogged with dust from the last couple of thousand k's. Another item on the bikes that has proved itself is the Scottoiler. If you dont know what one is dont worry, just nod and agree! The two DR's have performed exceedingly well and we are both very pleased with them.
Midday sees us moving out and heading towards Ulan Ude. Remember it does not get dark here until 10.30 - 11.00pm and setting up camp at 8.00pm is not an issue.
We manage to leave Chita without doing our usaul once around the city block to find the right exit.
If it was not for the pics we take I would forget what happens during the day. Mind you, that could be a result of having to listen to myself sing along those mind numbing straights.
Most of the towns and villages we pass have the remains of some large concrete building crumbling away and giving the surrounding area a look of abandonment. Its these broken remains that got me to thinking "Why this is?"
So here is my thoughts.....They are what is left over from the Soviet era. When it all collapsed so did the work or what ever business was carried out in these buildings. The windows and doors and anything else of use got removed and what remains is a crumbling skeleton..... Well thats my theory!
The true highlight of the day was seeing a large biplane parked in the middle of a field, just out of Khilok. Being nosey, we pull off and ride quietly up towards a small house that over looks the plane. A solitary figure appears at the door with a couple of barking dogs. Using sign language, aint getting off the bike just yet, those dogs look hungry, I ask if its ok to look at the plane. The mans face opens to a small smile and nods his head. We ride off towards the plane with the two dogs stopping about half way between it and the house.
J'ean informs me it's an Antinov, Russias version of the DC3. This plane is still in service and the field is actually a runway. With an 11 cyclinder radial engine producing 1000hp I am glad I aint paying the fuel bill. We return to the house and with out getting bitten have a bit of a chat with the guy.
The nights camp site was on higher ground and over looked the road. Even up here the mozzies are out in force and will even penetrate clothing....... scratch, scratch, scratch
10 June Thursday Camp 6 to Ulan Ude
Its overcast and spitting, apart from being a tad sleepy our spirits are not dampened.
Riding an over weight trailbike down a wet and soft hill is a quick way to find your balance first thing in the morning. With alloyside panniers mounted it is not recommended to put your feet down while moving, once is all it takes to serve as a lesson. As with riding any four wheeler always keep your feet up.
The road going to Ulan Ude is very characteristic of New Zealand roads, twisty and bumpy and its a comforting feeling to a small degree. The towns along the way are brighter and are in better kept condition, showing a little more pride in themselves and the ones on the outskirts of Ulan Ude show signs of growth with new houses being built. The shoulder of the road is sandy and gives the area a resort location type look, you almost feel like you have arrived at a beach.
Inner city Ulan Ude - cars, trams, traffic lights and people. Stopping at a parking area which happened to be right out front of the main Square, the same square that the largest Lenin head dominates at 7.7 meters high, we try to get our bearings and locate a motel. While sitting there looking like a couple of lost motorcyclists two guys wonder up and introduce themselves, Marcus and Marcus. They are from Switzerland and along with two other friends are riding around the world using 2 Honda Africa Twins and a landcruiser support vehicle. www.witheastinmind.ch
We bump into them again not fifteen minutes later, they are staying at the same motel we are booking into - Hotel Buryatiya - this place has HOT water :))))
11 June Friday Ulan Ude
We found out what Kasha is today at breakfast - steamed rice with butter on top. Dont know unless you try but I dont think I will order it again. It did go well with the omlets.
Keeping everything up to date, photos, email, blog all takes time and by 1.00pm cabin fever has set in and we go in search of a real coffee, something Russia lacks seriously. On our previous evening out walking around we spotted a coffee shop named Marco Polo and this is the place I am bee lining for. You can smell the the roasted beans as you climb the stairs and the decor of the place is very warm with dark furniture and creme coloured walls. It has to be a franchise company from America or Europe as the menus are also in english and they make all the different styles you would expect. Me, simple, Americano and for J'ean, Mocho Chocolate. Sitting there enjoying our drinks I notice an instrument I have not seen in years, a sextant, sitting in the window box. (Sextant - for those not knowing - lets just say early model GPS for sailors)
Checking out some of the local sights we end up at the Sagaan Morin Shopping Plaza. Like all malls its full of nice stuff you never knew you needed until you see it! J'ean was hoping to buy a charge cable for his camera, yes you can get one, it comes with a new camera. Leaving the Plaza we are a little disorientated, thought we came out the same door we went in. With a little extra walking and the help of tall iconic landmarks we make it back to our hotel. Hungry and thirsty food is on the agenda. Happyland - yes you read it right, sounds like a childs play area, is a set in front of the local cinema and has the cheapest smorgsboard style food in town and the beer aint bad either:)))
Taking a few snap shots of the adjacent Opera house, which is undergoing a full restoration, and the replica copy of the Triumphal Arch we notice a couple of others doing the same and speaking english, definitely not locals. Two girls from England, on holiday from their teaching jobs in Mosco, travelling on the trans Siberian Train. Pleasant change to have a full conversation with others in english.
Looking forward to seeing Lake Baikal tomorrow.