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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Xdream, Sep 24, 2011.
I'm waiting you arrive at Magadan to start my report
haha yeah - great idea. I am afraid you have to wait longer in front of your computer than you had to wait in magadan. I am by far a better motorcyclist than a writer. Well, maybe not better, but at least faster.
lets go on.
So I finally got out of Moscow. My goal this day was to get to Kazaan. I heard it´s quite a nice city so I wanted to do some sightseeing there.
The temperature was quite hot, around 35 degrees celsius, but clouds were building up quick. The road was good and the traffic was ok. There was a constant change between highway and country road. The scenery was mainly flat and boring, just a few hills. In the beginning there were some trees, later there was only farmland, similar to Oklahoma.
Something I have seen in every part of Russia, no matter if it was near cities or in rural regions. You can buy just anything right at the roadside. Coffee, Tee, Mushrooms, Berries, but also stuffed animals, fishing equipment and rubberboats. Somethimes there were hundreds of people at the roadside selling stuff, but I have not seen any customers for hundreds of kilometers.
I did not take many photos at this stage of the journey, so please excuse that I do not have more of those.
Also something I started to recognize is, that the houses along the roadside were very nice at all times. Even in the muddiest and smallest towns, the place around the houses were clean and nicely taken care of. I travel a lot in the US too, and if you see houses in rural regions there are at least 3 rusty cars, 5 rusty motorcycles a washer and a dryer and lots of other stuff around the house. I did not see any of those in Russia. (maybe they do not have anything to throw in their backyard.
Something Russians like too, are memorials and war stuff. You see them just about everywhere. I liked this one, you could ride on ground, flip it over easily and continue on water. (it might need 2 persons to flip it over).
Getting meal was funny too. The restaurants I have been to never had a menu in english. I knew a few things but mainly I just pointed at things other persons had to eat and what looked good. I mean, you always can order shaslik, but you also want to taste other things right?
So here I ordered a Salmon steak. I pointed at it and the waitress asked me something. I did not know what she meant. She did not stop asking, but I had not a clue what she was asking. It took about 15 minutes. The cook was there already and other guests and 2 other waiters. I was nearly crying, because I just wanted to have this tasty peace of salmon.
Suddenly the cook disapeared and apeared again from the kitchen with a piece of bread. They were asking me since 20 minutes if I wand bread to my salmon or not. Russians
Here is the salmon
soon after noon it started to rain again.
It was not raining, it was pouring for hours until i reached Kazaan just at sunset. The rain stoped and I got into town, found a nice and cheap hotel and went to bed.
gald to see you back at it...writing this report that is cheers, and great video!
Awesome story so far - looking forward to the rest. You will also have to give us some information on how easy it was to get Visas and to navigate with very little Russian language.
Visa and other Information
Visa itselfes was not a problem at all. I was able to choose between a 1 month tourist Visa or a 3 month business Visa. One month would have been enough for my trip. But I took the 3 month business Visa. I will tell more about the reason later.
Getting the Visa sounds complicated, but isn´t too much if you know what to do.
A business Visa ist just called a "business Visa" it has nothing to do with business. You can obtain it as a normal tourist too.
What you need beside your passport and the application form is an invitation from a russian travel agencie and a hotel reservation for the first nights.
For the invitation and the hotel reservation I googled a bit and found some sites that offer invitations and pro forma reservations. Means you get a voucher, but it´s nothing booked. But this is enough for getting the Visa.
On your application form you have to mention your route. I wrote just anything. Moscow and Novosibirsk or something like that. Nobody ever cared.
You also need an approval that you have an health insurance. There´s a list for every country, which insurance is valid.
Most important thing was, to PRINT the application form right. The application form goes through a scanner-thing and so you have to make sure that it´s the appropriate paper size and the boarder of the application form is exactly 8mm from the boarder of the paper. Otherwise the Visa will not be issued.
My printer always made som adjustments, so I was not able to print the form in the right style. I had to ask somebody else. That was the biggest problem with getting the Visa.
As by the law, you have to register your Visa within 7 days after arriving in the country. That means, just going through customs and get your Visa stamp is not enough. Your Visa has to be registred by an Hotel. If you don´t stay at a hotel you have to go to the local office to register.
Hotels normally only register if you stay more than 3 nights, because ist some serios work for them. I was lucki in Kazaan. There was a very friendly receptionist that registred my Visa. I think I would not have done it, if it would have been more difficult to get the registration.
I had to stop at 3 police checkpoints overall. Nobody ever asked for that Visa registration. Also when I left Russia nobody ever asked. I don´t know what it´s for, but its better to have.
Some also say, you only have to register, if you stay more than 3 nights at the same place. Did not find out if that is true. At some point you might have problems to proof that you did not stay more than 3 nights at a place, especially when you are travelling 3 month.
Some Hotels wanted some money to register and told me, that I need this registration when leaving the country. I refused and nobody asked about hotel registrations when leaving russia. Not sure if they just aim for some extry bucks in the hotels.
More about Motorcycle registration in Russi later
This is great info, more please!
Glad to see you back posting!
Good report, thanks for posting.
Bollocks! That's another ride added to the bucket list.
Cracking video and report, thanks for taking the time to share and lure us in
I'm in... great video and story so far
Day 4: Kazan to Chelabinsk
I got up very early after just 6 hours of rest. I did some sightseeing but it was too early to get right into the Kremlin of Kazan. This is a wonderful piece of history and architecture. within the Kremlin you find churches of different religions and its absolutely stunning. You see a Mosque a Church, lots of towers and sandstone walls.
As it was Monday morning, the roads were extremely jammed and busy. I did not feel very comortable and decided to find a quick way out of town. In my rush I did take a wrong road, but I recognized that it also leads to the M5 road I wanted to go to. So I just followed that road. There was nearly no traffic and I made good progress.
That day was extremely windy and I had to fight against strong crosswinds. After I returned home I found out that there was a hurricane near the place I rode and that there was a whole village destroyd that day just about 20km from whre I was riding.
I had lunch at a nice graveyard. It´s nice to have lunch at graveyards in Russia. It´s peaceful and quiet and they have already set up chairs and tables
Soon after I crossed the Wolga River at the confluence with another river. I have never ever in my live seen such a huge river. (I have crossed the Mississipi, but it was dark and I think I was sleeping and I can not remember how big it was - but this would be a whole other story)
I reached the M5 Highway in early afternoon. The M5 leads to Chelabinsk and it was packed with huge trucks. The road surface was sometimes really really bad. I needed lots of concentration while riding. And guess what - it began to rain again. It rained so hard, you could not see a thing at times.
Another important thing you have to know is, that I rode eastwards of course, so riding around 1000 km a day means, that I cross one time zone per day. So I loose a complete hour daylight per day. Between Kazaan and Chelabinsk there were 2 hours time difference. So I checked my clock - 2 PM, 400 km to go. Ok, thats doable. 5 minutes later you check the watch again and it´s 4 PM, but you still have to go 400 k. thats feels weird sometimes.
Soon I hit the Ural Mountains. The wet road was slippery as hell, the trucks did not help either. Sorry I did not take many pictures that day, but it was raining so hard. I was tired and cold. It was defenitely the toughest day so far. Suddenly another motorcyclist appeared on the road, I overtook him and stopped a few km after. He stopped too and i found out that it was Juri from Moscow who was riding to Lake Baikal. He had a Hotel reservation in Chelabinsk for that day and we decided to ride together for the last 200 kms to Chelabinsk. We reached Chelabinsk at midnight in pouring rain, had a good dinner and went to bed. I would not have made it to Chelabinsk without Juri that day. Thanks mate!
This was the hotel we stayed in: Ever seen "shining"? It somehow reminded me on that one.
4 days / 4.000 km
PS: Only 4 days to go for the ultimate BMW Advrider secret
Awesome! I love those older communist style hotels - maybe 'love' isnt the right word, but there are definitely strange. Those are some long days you are putting in, i'm curious to see if you get burnt out.
Thanks for the info, I'm hooked
I want to do this journey this year
This is a good one
my suggestion: do it
Xdream, the suspense is too much ... keep the great RR coming at a faster pace - get off your work ... and get down to more important work - like writing the RR :)
w i c k e d
Sorry guys. My apologies to be so slow. I know you are looking forward to the real stuff. But I had to go through those "not so action packed days" too, so you have to follow. haha
Well, next morning we had a late breakfast at 9 am.
This is Yuri. (from here on, you can click on the pictures to view bigger versions, if you want)
After meeting more and more people I figured out that lots of people in Russia just look exactly like Yuri So after a while I called every Russian just "Yuri".
We discussed what to do and I told him, that I want to get to Krasnojarsk as fast as possible. He also was OK with that, as there is not much to see anyways on the way and we decided to ride together for a while.
Yuri set a nice speed. The weather was good again and the streets too. Traffic was much less then yesterday. The mountains of the Ural are behind us now and in front of us is just flat land. (if you think Oklahoma is flat and boring, you never been to this part of Russia before).
It was not too boring though, because I was just stunned by the amount of birds of prey. I think they were Hawks and Buzzards. Hundreds of them along the roads, in the fields and in the sky. I only have a small pocket camera, so I was not able to get a proper picture. But here you can see one in the air. I could watch them for hours patrolling the sky.
And Yuri on his Suzuki Freewind
As there was not much going on on the road, it´s time for some more side information that might be interesting für future travellers.
Here is an overall information about Gas stations throughout russia. Along the main Highway until Lake Baikal (and I guess also until Vladivostok) you will never have a problem finding Gas. I think there was a Gas station every 50km. Sometimes maybe 100km, but not more.
You always geht 92octane and sometimes even 95 octane along this route. Quality of the gas seems to vary a bit. At least Yuri told me that. The more expensive it is, the worse is the quality.
How to act at a Gas station:
At a Gas station you first have to pay at the counter, then fill up Gas. The cashiers counter looks like that.
We are not used to that in Europe. I think it´s more common in the US (or at least was). Well, I had this huge Touratech gas tank that holds (including the original tank) around 35 liters. So I went to the window, sait "trizet litr" which means 30 liters and wanted to pay.
But everytime they asked "trizet litr? a matazikl?" translates with: "you never geht 30 liters in that motorcycle, maybe you mean 13 liters." (i switch to english now, but imagine this all in russian.
Xdream: "no, no 30 liters for sure"
clerk: "no way 30 liters would fit in that motorcycle"
xdream: "ok, lets do 28"
I paid and got gas.
After a few stops I figured out what "full" means. ("polny" in russian). So I got to the cashiers window again. Said "polny" and left a 1000 rubel and returned to the pump.
I had 3 gas tanks. Touratech left and right and the original gas tank under the seat. I needed to fill them all seperately. I filled the first, switched to the second - damn. The cashier locked the pump. Get back to the window.
Xdream "I need more gas"
clerk: "but you have already"
Xdream: "no, i need more"
xdream: "i have 3 tanks"
clerk: "how much you need"
xdream: "about 20 more liters"
clerk: "no way - in that motorcycle?"
further conversation, start at conversation a
They could do that forever. It was especially difficult when the windows had shades so you could not see the person behind the window. If you are not fluent in russian it´s hard to talk with "hands and feet" if you do not actually see the person you are talkin to.
On the BAM Road and the Road of Boones the Gas stations were a little bit less, but you can find Gas in every little village. The most common answer was "ask the Kamaz driver, he has Gas". I love that phrase. Like everytime you were asking people if you had a problem - the answer was "ask the Kamaz driver". If you are a Kamaz driver in the remote Sibirian villages, you are something like the King of the universe there.
I think also the BAM and the Road of Bones would have been doable with 230-250km of coverage. But you would have to plan really carefully. And you might have to wait a day or more until you get Gas in a small village. Here the huge gas tank of the small GS with a coverage of 700km and sometimes more came in handy. I stopped at a Village, asked for Gas, if they had - i got fuel, if not i continued to the next village. This saves a lot of worries and it saves time too.
I never had to use less than 92 octane. If you have to take what you get, then you might have to take 87 octane. I also found a Gas station with 76 octane Here is one of those.
Thats how you get Gas on the BAM
A nice Gas station on the Road of Bones - yes, this is actually in service.
After that small excursion into "Gas station philosophy" we´re back on the road. We made it by dawn to Omsk. Another huge 1000 km day. We stayed at a truck stop that night. Only about 1 hour of driving in the rain today. That was a record!!
Another small info for future travellers. On that route there would be a shortcut to Omsk through Kazachstan. It saves you around 2 hours. Everybody told me, that it is not possible without complicated Visa stuff. But on the road we met a motorcyclist from Omsk who said it would be no problem, even without Visa. He did it a week ago with 3 english Motorcyclists and they had no problem. They also did not have a Visa. I would have loved to go through Kazachstan. Not because of the shorter Route, more because of "Borat country". Well, Yuri was not so happy with the idea and we went around. So again no real proof that it would be possible.
5 days of riding and I am on the same longitude as India. Doesn´t that sound cool?