A Travellerspoint blog

Listvianka (Baykal Lake) to Tulun - 450kms

Many a drop but none to drink

It was with some trepidation that we prepared to depart the Baikal area for the town of Tulun.

Tulun was the area that has been heavily hit by floods just as we left Vladivostok and the news had reported 15 bridges washed out, in excess of 20 people dead and another 10 or so missing plus somewhere over a 1,200 people homeless. Additionally we were hearing that there was no fuel as the tanks had been flooded, limited food for the same reason and that all available accommodation had been filled up by relief crews. With no alternative route or towns to stay in within a 150-200kms we had to roll the dice.

Surprisingly until we hit the outskirts of Tulun, population 45-50,000, there was no evidence of what had taken place less than 2 weeks earlier. Buildings appeared fine, if fine is a term that you can use to refer to the "interesting" form of buildings in rural Siberia, the road was more of the same, no evidence of water pooling anywhere and definitely nothing suggesting anything untoward with any of the bridges.

As we hit the outskirts of Tulun large tracts of water were evident, obvious damage such as debris on the road, fences down and the odd sight of a small shed sitting on the road side (literally on the shoulder) showing that something had definitely happened. There was also a very high visible presence of what we assumed were police (later we were told a significant portion were actually military police). We touched on the very fringe of the city as we diverted to our accommodation which was a hunting lodge type property a couple of kms out of town on the banks of the Iya River. The level of destruction we saw in just this brief pass by was incredible, houses in bits or completely demolished and vacant land where houses had once sat.

Arrival out our accommodation saw us asked to wait while they finished preparing our rooms (think mattresses being carted). They had only had power restored that day and the water had been to around 250mm or so above the tops of the doors. The floor level of the buildings would be a good 4-5 metres above the river level - so the water had been some 6.5-7.5 metres high at the height of the flooding. Dinner consisted of some scrounged up salami, cheese and bread. Our rooms were clean and tidy albeit the evidence of the flooding still very obvious - swollen floors and linings, no doors that would close and cold only water - not much of a hardship given what had been, and what some were still dealing with.

Certainly a more impressive garden decoration than a gnome

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The dining room?

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Our Accommodation

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Views of the camp

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The Mosquitoes Dining Room at Dinner Time

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The mighty little Kawasakis at rest

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Some shots from the road - look at that for a railway barrier!

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Posted by Zamiam 03:41 Comments (0)

Sights of Listvianka (Baykal Lake)

Literally would freeze the balls off the proverbial brass monkey

Listvianka (Listvyanka) is a town located 70 km from Irkutsk on the Western Shore of Lake Baikal near where Lake Baikal gives birth to the Angara River, and is becoming the main tourist resort of the lake with over 300,000 visitors per annum.

Lake Baikal for those that are interested in facts provided courtesy of Wikipedia, is the largest freshwater lake by volume in the world, containing 22–23% of the world's fresh surface water. With 23,615.39 km3 (5,670 cu mi) of fresh water, it contains more water than the North American Great Lakes combined. With a maximum depth of 1,642 m (5,387 ft), Baikal is the world's deepest lake. It is considered among the world's clearest lakes and is considered the world's oldest lake at 25–30 million years. It is the seventh-largest lake in the world by surface area.

Our guide for a day told us that if all the rivers in the world flowed into Lake Baikal it would take them 291 days to fill it. The Angara River is the only river that flows out of Lake Baikal. It is some 1,779 kms long and flows into the Yenisei River which is the fifth longest river in the world and the largest river system flowing to the Arctic Ocean.

The Baikal seal or nerpa is found throughout Lake Baikal. It is one of only three entirely freshwater seal populations in the world, the other two being subspecies of ringed seals.

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Photo from the Primorskiy Aquarium in Vladivostok - dumpy little fellow isn't she/he!

As we wished to maximise our limited time John organised for a tour guide to show us the lake, well a very small portion, and nearby features.

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A short drive up the lake saw us boarding our charter boat for the on lake portion of our excursion

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Some 25 minutes or so up the lake we went ashore to explore and look at the views. Both Steve and I had intended to go for a swim but a quick wade with legs screaming from the cold convinced us that we were cowards

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After a pleasant relax it was back on board for a trip down the lake to the start of the Angara River

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Then it was on to further down the lake so that we could stroll along a now redundant, but for a tourist train, portion of the Trans Siberian Railway - this was the last part built but has since been replaced by a short cut

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The Trans-Siberian Railway was built between 1896 and 1902. Construction of the scenic railway around the southwestern end of Lake Baikal required 200 bridges and 33 tunnels. Until its completion, a train ferry transported railcars across the lake from Port Baikal to Mysovaya for a number of years.

John was assisted back down the scree to the boat although I suspect he was somewhat deluded if he thought our guide had any chance of stopping him should he had lost his footing

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As our boat journey ended it was time for lunch where the opportunity was taken to clear out the multitude of coins we had been accumulating

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Nest stop was a local market where we browsed for a half hour or so

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Our final stop of the day was a ride on a ski lift that is used in the summer to transport visitors to a prominent outlook over the lake, coincidentally from above our hotel.

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Posted by Zamiam 01:44 Comments (1)

Ulan Ude to Listvianka (Baykal Lake) - 540kms

Time to visit THE lake

After a quiet night in Ulan Ude it was time to head for one of the highlights on the list, Lake Baikal (Baykal) just over 500kms down the road.

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The night before we had been told about the Rally Raid event due into Ulan Ude the next day. A quick look online showed us that the Silk Way Rally was leaving Irkutsk at the bottom of the lake heading our way so we saw a multitude of vehicles heading east including the Rally Trucks, Cars, Buggys and there related support vehicles - some of the trucks were very expensive looking bits of kit. When we saw a buggy refueling we decided to stop for a quick look.

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The Silk Way Rally is one of the most large-scale competition in the world of cross-country rallies.
The first edition took place in 2009 and connected Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. At that time the rally was conducted at the initiative of the presidents of these three countries, who were also personally present on the award ceremony. The rally name “Silk Way” represents the Eurasian nature of the race and its meaning for the connection of all countries in the area of the ancient Silk Way. From 2010 to 2013 about one thousand racers on their cars and trucks represented 30 world countries on the rally.

In 2016, thanks to the support of rally general partner Gazprom, Silk Way Rally reached a new level: rally route for the first time in its history crossed Russia, Kazakhstan and China from Moscow to Beijing. Such decision was made to emphasize the active development of diplomatic, social and economic relations between Russia and China.
Since 2016, the rally has taken form of a transcontinental rally marathon, uniting the sportsmen from dozens of countries on the unique route along the ancient Silk Road.

In 2019 Silk Way Rally sets off from Irkutsk on July 6. After that the competitors will proceed to the world’s deepest lake, Baikal, and reach the first bivouac. While the racers are exploring new regions, TV audience gets an opportunity to follow them on their way across East Siberia, Russian taiga forests, Mongolian steppes, Chinese plains and the sands of Gobi desert. Finish ceremony will take place on July 16 in a picturesque town of Dunhuang right at the foot of the high dunes.

Video of some of the Silk Way Rally Raid Vehicles here

Time for fuel and then lunch

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Is that bloody Gopro working

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First glimpse of the Lake?

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Here comes John

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The lake and a nearby town

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Our accommodation for the next two nights: Legend of Baikal

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Some things are mandatory and posting a picture of a Volga is one of them

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Posted by Zamiam 01:28 Comments (0)

Sights of Ulan Ude -2

overcast 26 °C
View As the Crow Flies Russia 2019 on stevecrownz's travel map.

Write-Up Coming soon - meanwhile here are some pics to enjoy.

Datsan Rinpoche Bagsha
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Monument to Lenin - at 7.7m the largest Lenin head monument in the world.
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Music Fountain
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Monument to Checkhov
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Monument to Verkhneudinskiy Kupets
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Holy Odigitrievsky Cathedral
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Datum Point of Siberia
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Around the streets of Ulan Ude
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Posted by stevecrownz 09:46 Archived in Russia Tagged buildings crow russia siberia carr buryat uluan_ude Comments (1)

How are the bikes holding up?

With just over 6,100kms under the tyres a quick update on the bikes

BMW R1200GSA - John

John chose to have his bike serviced Kemerovo as there is a BMW Service Centre there. He had a full service and changed out his tyres with ones he bought with him. All up cost around $US200 so cheap.

Issues to date:
- Loss of throttle - a quick check showed that the throttle connection had become disconnected so while the throttle was going around the message was getting through to the computer (it's not the traditional cable type but the fly by wire version). A simple replug and power off and back on and issue fixed;
- Top box lock has separated from lid. Not fixable without replacing lock so part ordered and will be fitted on a stop in a few days

Kawasaki Versys KLE 650 F - Steve and David

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Issues to date:
- None with bikes
- Three with rider (I've dropped my bike twice, first one went to take off and hesitated due to traffic rolled back and couldn't touch the ground and over she went, second one stopped to take photos on side of the road, got back on and dropped glove, made mistake of leaning to look for it and over she went - must remember the road camber is on the opposite side to NZ as we are riding on the right so the stand is on the high side consequently the bike is more upright and easier to tip over and have lost a windscreen bolt - as my gopro mounts below screen I have been loosening the bolts to lift the screen to install and remove it. One stop I forgot to retighten the bolts so one vibrated loose and fell off somewhere along the route).

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Tyre wear is very little and we are averaging 21.3kms/litre or just over 60mpg. Generally we have been cruising at around 110kph but there have been some extended runs at/over 130kph.

Did we pick the right bike for the job - definitely, all up the bikes with us and our gear on board are carrying around 200kgs - they have proven more than capable on covering the vast distances at speed and in comfort (no small thanks to the seat mods for this), they have coped well with the various road surfaces, handled open road and city duties with ease and proven reliable. What more could one ask for? I will concede that had we been doing serious amounts of offroad and/or a significant number of miles of unsealed roads this would not be the case however travelling the distances we have covered on the roads as they are on something like a DR650, which I seriously contemplated, would have been fair less suitable (i.e. comfortable or as easy).

So full marks to Kawasaki and their little ripper Versys 650.

P.S. both Steve and I have both seen 181kph so we truly are 181 Across Russia!

Posted by Zamiam 21:02 Comments (0)

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