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Old 01-09-2010, 09:09 AM   #721
danbrew
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Colebatch, great read. Thanks for taking the time to share your travels with us. Your Sibirsky Extreme 2010 is tempting...

You've posted a few maps of your route throughout this thread - what mapping software were you using? Would appreciate a pointer to some decent electronic maps of the Russian far east.

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Old 01-09-2010, 10:05 AM   #722
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Fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!

Guys,

This is FANTASTIC-----ABSOLUTLEY FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All three of you have my utmost respect. Tony, you are the man!!

I am so jealous

Safe riding
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Old 01-09-2010, 10:05 AM   #723
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I don't like to add to the clutter, but thanks for sharing, you are an excellent writer, and I can't get enough of this report. Bravo!!
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Old 01-09-2010, 10:31 AM   #724
Bryn1203
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Colebatch

Very interesting review of the Russian opinion of us. I am humbled and embarrassed to admit that I would expect them to have been unfriendly.

The only Russians I ever notice are in american CSI type TV programs or billionaires buying soccer teams. Probably not a balanced view of a nation.

Makes me want to visit there now. Fekin big place though

Is it expensive for essentials - fuel, food, booze ?
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Old 01-09-2010, 10:36 AM   #725
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colebatch
Interesting question. These are my thoughts and observations:

Edit ... afterthought ... in these extreme parts of Siberia (where everyone is rugged and tough), they think of westerners in general as soft and spoiled by luxury. But they think exactly the same of Russian city people and in particular "Moscow people", who rural Russians love to mock.
We all develop certain "skill sets" depending on our situations. You guys have brought to us a whole side of Russian/Siberian culture I had never thought about, or known existed. To be one of the few "outsiders" to go through there. It will change, and maybe has changed as a result of your trip.. What an experience.
Once again, thanks for the RR! The bikini shots were nice too.
Jeff
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Old 01-09-2010, 11:08 AM   #726
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Man-O-Man!!

Priorities before the BAM RR
1. Wifey
2. Family
3. Work
4. Perusing AdvRider RR/forums

Priorities during the BAM RR
1. Reading the updates of BAM RR

2. Reading the updates of BAM RR

3. Reading the updates of BAM RR

4. Wifey
5. Reading the updates of BAM RR
6. Family
7. Reading the updates of BAM RR
8. Work
9. Reading the updates of BAM RR

10. Reading the updates of BAM RR
11. Repeat

This report is like a drug...I gotta have it several times a day!!
I don't wanna think about what will happen when the RR is over...I'll get the shakes.
No, I know. I'll just re-read it and re-live it!!
Thanks fellas. Incredible trip and report!
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Old 01-09-2010, 11:16 AM   #727
Colebatch OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryn1203
Is it expensive for essentials - fuel, food, booze ?
In a word, no. But nor is it dirt cheap. (places like Mongolia or Tajikistan will be less than half the price of Russia)

Fuel in populated parts of Russia was about 25 rubles a litre (50p) and in more remote places that went up to 32 rubles a litre (65p) for 92 octane fuel. 95 octane a couple of rubles more. In US terms, that's about $2.90 to $3.80 per US gallon.

Beer ... in remote places, we were paying about 30 rubles (60p) for a half litre (almost a pint) bottle. Tony tended to go for a more basic beer, and he would often be paying 60 rubles (about 1 pound 20) for a 2 litre plastic bottle of the nasty stuff.

Food ... in a roadside cafe, a meal for two as pictured on an earlier page, of soup, pirozhki, big rissole and macaroni would typically work out about 200 rubles. (2 quid each). In a more restauranty type place in a city, (like proper fish and chips or a rib eye steak with fries), will be western prices, or possibly even a touch higher - but you wont get that anywhere on the BAM. You need somewhere like Krasnoyarsk for that - 300km after the western end of the BAM.

Hotel Rooms ... cheap rooms were from 500- 600 rubles (10-12 quid) for a twin room, and more expensive ones (like Magadan and Vladivostok) were 1800 rubles (36 quid). From memory in Tynda, we had single rooms, and they were about 1500 rubles (30 quid each).

What we tended to find was that the more remote the location, the more expensive the prices. Food and hotels on the Trans-Siberian highway will be cheaper than in remote parts of Yakutia. Cities obviously are more expensive than towns and villages.

I planned for expenditure of about 50 US Dollars a day, and it worked out close to that. Perhaps I ended up doing $60 a day or somewhere around that for my whole trip. I didnt try to save money anywhere. I just spent what seemed appropriate. After hard stretches (when we deserved it) we sought out the best hotels in town, like in Tynda. And we almost never camped. You could definitely do it cheaper if you were watching pennies. Areas like Yakutia are more expensive than the average, and you will spend 30-40% more per day than in cheaper area. Everything is more expensive up North. Food, fuel, hotels, beer ...


Note: Average exchange rates during our trip were about 50 rubles to the GBP, 43 to the EUR and 32 to the USD
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Colebatch screwed with this post 01-09-2010 at 02:01 PM
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Old 01-09-2010, 11:30 AM   #728
Colebatch OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryn1203
Very interesting review of the Russian opinion of us. I am humbled and embarrassed to admit that I would expect them to have been unfriendly.
My take on Russians is they are like eggs. The climate and the culture makes then often appear gruff. That's the shell off the egg. Crack it open and they are very soft and warm on the inside (no I am not talking about bikinis here).

Some travellers who don't have the language will sometimes report the Russians as being gruff. But no-one who has a bit of the language has ever reported that to me. And I have never had a problem. Basically what I am saying is, if you speak a bit of the language, you will see the good side of the Russians.

Terry spoke no Russian yet got off to a flying start in Vladivostok, but it helped that he had met up with a couple of Russian bikers who spoke some English.

Tony speaks a little Russian, but he has a long standing Russian girlfriend, so I suspect his basic Russian combined with a pretty good idea of the culture and way things are done has meant he has always enjoyed excellent Russian hospitality.
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Old 01-09-2010, 12:56 PM   #729
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katkatit

Anyway, so now you got my dad watching out for me not to buy airline tickets to Moscow and then Vladivostok I hope you guys are proud
Proud that we made you grounded from riding the BAM?

I cant be proud of that.
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Old 01-09-2010, 01:52 PM   #730
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danbrew
You've posted a few maps of your route throughout this thread - what mapping software were you using? Would appreciate a pointer to some decent electronic maps of the Russian far east.

I used paper maps. I had scanned, blown up, reprinted and laminated some printed russian maps.

I know the Poles we met en route had a more sophisticated in car system, that included scanned maps, calibrated into OziExplorer software, and running on a large screen laptop ... so they effectively had a largescreen display of scanned maps (probably the same as mine) but had the GPS working with it.

As mentioned before, when it comes to the BAM Road, GPS is not the most useful thing in the world. You just follow the rail line.

I was just using Garmin World Map and my printed maps. From the combination of those I was always able to estimate within a mile or so where we were on the maps, and how far it was to the next village.

The more detailed printed maps were like this (covering Kuanda, Vitim Bridge, Taksimo and Severomuisk):



While more general road maps were like this (covering Kuanda to Novy Uoyan) :



Note that with these maps, most of the towns marked on the maps didnt exist. Once upon a time they did, as construction towns for the BAM railway, its bridges and tunnels. One the infrastructure was built, the construction towns were abandoned, but live on through non-updated maps.
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Old 01-09-2010, 02:31 PM   #731
Colebatch OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by werewasi
... I'd been wondering if this name was about honouring Kenneth Kaunda, one time president of Zambia, at a time when the Soviets were into cultivating relationships with African countries bigtime.
?????????
I had an afterthought about this ... I don't really recall too many things named after or in honour of foreigners by the Soviets, with just a handful of exceptions. All of the exceptions I can think of were ideological allies - founders of communist theory, rather than mere political allies like Kaunda. Soviet support for people like Kaunda was merely politically convenient. The idea that they could have named a river in their heartland after a guy like that just wouldnt fly.

There is a city named after Italian communist Togliatti, and of course there is a lot named after the German fathers of communism, Karl Marx and Felix Engels. Occasionally you see stuff named after the Polish / German socialist Rosa Luxemburg. But most things that were named after people were named after "Heroes of the October Revolution" ... i.e. Soviet citizens who helped the rise to power of the Bolshevik government, thru fair means and foul.
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Old 01-09-2010, 04:49 PM   #732
Colebatch OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oisin
I thought for a second that it was red wine you were drinking.... known the world over as a girls drink...and carries 3 demerits on the hardcore bikers scale for every glass consumed
well ... lucky I didnt post the earlier foto of me sipping bucks fizz thru a straw.
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Old 01-09-2010, 04:52 PM   #733
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Old 01-09-2010, 05:00 PM   #734
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Originally Posted by Gale B.T.
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Old 01-09-2010, 05:31 PM   #735
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Severobaikalsk - Ust Kut

Another nice sleep in and warm shower to start the day in Severobaikalsk. This civilisation stuff can really grow on you - makes us wonder why we ever headed out into the real wilds of Siberia.

Today would be a relatively short ride - 340km on prepared roads. A mere 6 hours or so. We left Severobaikalsk around 10:30. By 1pm we were passing the point where the Zhigalovo Road meets the BAM road ... a point Tony and I got to exactly 2 months ago to the day, on our way up to Yakutia.

It was strange to ride a road that felt familiar. Almost every point in the road gave me flashbacks to 2 months ago. Its incredible how much data can be stored in the brain ... all HD quality video replays from 2 months ago came flooding back.

We stopped in at the same railway canteen at Magistralny for lunch. Tony had been complaining of a soggy rear end ... I pointed out he was of pensionable age so it was par for the course. He however wanted to look at his tyre pressures and wheel bearings ... before realising his rear wheel axle nut was loose. Phew!, at least thats easy to fix.

Onwards and upwards to Ust Kut ... about 3:30pm we passed the spot that was total and utter muddy bog 2 months ago. In the cloudless blue sunny skies of today, riding it now was a doddle. It was almost dry. But it was still easy to imagine how it would look after a days rain!
Todays road:


The same stretch 2 months ago to the day:



In the final few dozen kilometres into Ust Kut, Tony had flashbacks to Yakutia and his 15 punctures. He had two rear wheel punctures, to add to one he scored last night. All up he is now up to 18 punctures. I think there is a good chance he can get 20 by the time he gets back to Denham Village in west London.

I had ridden ahead to Ust Kut to take care of other business and sat in front of the hotel eating shashlik in the sun. Eventually the two stragglers arrived and checked into the Lena Hotel.

There was now less than 700km of the 4280km BAM road to go. Just over a days ride to Taishet and the end of the line.
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