09 June 2008

Across Siberia

After Irkutsk, we had a nice couple of days transitting Siberia. The ride out of Irkutsk was pretty uneventful and fairly short (about 400k), to the town of Tulun--here are a few pix:

Tulun itself was pretty much devoid of anything of interest. Dinner at the fanciest place in town, which had a table full of middle-aged Armenian women celebrating something. Horrible, loud music, no scenery, had to bail. went to bed early.

The next day, June 5, was some of the most memorable riding of the trip: about 100 km or so of unpaved, very rough road. 18 wheelers where snaking around the potholes, tons of dust, huge mounds of dirt in the middle of the road, and dozens of little shacks selling some kind of berry juice:

Very fun day, no spills or mishaps, so it was really nice to get to the hotel that night after about 700k of rough roads:

Krasnoyarsk became known as the city of crooks, at least to me. Ordered a beers in the hotel restaurant, told them I wanted x brand, not y brand (weiss beer!). They brought y beer, I said that wasn't what I ordered and I wasn't paying. They started saying that is what I ordered, and I had to pay, etc. I called the manager and started to make a big fuss, told them that under no circumstances was I paying for their crappy beer. also went down to the river embankment, which was very nice and full of people strolling around, shashlik pits, beer tents, etc. Really a nice place. But we also got cheated by the taxi driver on the way there and the shashlik place taht we went to.

During our day off in Krasnoyarsk, we went to some kind of national park. They are very proud of it, and it was nice enough I guess, but really the scenery wasn't anything you wouldn't find in the Shenandoahs or many, many other parks in the US. Here are a couple of shots:

You can kind of tell from our expressions that we weren't that impressed:
Finally, the morning that we left, I walked outside to prep the bike to find Tom chatting, or trying to chat, with a lovely Russian girl who had apparently just left a bar right behind our hotel (and we didn't know about it!). Very nice girl, but we were leaving town!

On June 7 we rode 550k to Kemerovo. Nice little city, there was a wedding party at our hotel, and they invited us. Very fun, spoke with a lot of the guests, many of whom had never met an American before. Some were slightly hostile, but most were very nice, again, lots of shots. Then went to a good nightclub ("Moskva"), from which Sasha our guide got kicked out and we followed in sympathy (but a damn shame). Here's a shot of Tom and Stuart in front of our hotel in Kemerovo:

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