from left to right:
After crossing the Mongolia/Russia border we headed to
Lake Baikal and found a nice camp right beside the lake; It is a mammoth
lake holding nearly 20% of the world's un-frozen fresh water .
The weather was great for the first day, then turned really
cold and windy – as Kate & Rod look standing beside the lake edge; We
had a look around the nearby village of Germyachinsk which sits beside the
lake's edge and wound our way down the wide dusty streets past colourful
drive back to the main town of Ulan-Ude through the mountains was delightful,
with the colours of autumn on the trees well into their autumn tonings.
A picturesque river and its autumn coloured landscape; Our
camp not far off the road and in a grassy clearing beside a dry creek bed
with autumn trees all around was delightful and we even managed a fire
(it did take some doing though).
Kate bought some vegetables from this woman and also
tried a little communication, with some success – you find women like this
all through Russia sitting outside their home selling their excess vegetables,
etc, to make a little money; Her
house was one of the most neat and colourful we saw during our travels.
Not all houses are painted or colourful at all, such as this one with its
very basic windows and shutters; Our camp in a field with its haystacks
(it had been a nice day – no rain!!); A typical country Russian village; Ron
looks up the road with its dirt and pot holes that will take us to Chita
(before it started raining!!).
The large town of Chita and Viv and Ron had three young
girls – Anna, Nastya and Yulya, all in Year 8 at the local school, come by
and say ‘Hello'. They were delightful and were very keen to see if we had
enjoyed their beautiful country - meetings such as this make independent
travel so interesting and enjoyable; Our Hay Valley Camp that evening, after
leaving Chita, was a beauty; Another
remote Russian village on the road to
As we got towards Chernyshevsk the country was a vast rolling
cleared field and most of the grasslands had been cut for hay, and while
there were some ‘modern' tractors used, we often saw sights like this – driver,
horse and rack working the cut grass.
Quite often it took a few tries to find a camp site and
although our Rockpit Camp wasn't the best it had a hard-pack road to a gravel
pit off the road a little and we were out of sight of the road traffic; some
of the beautiful autumn colours we saw along our drive east – it made what
would otherwise be a fairly boring drive into one which we really enjoyed.
The road conditions along the drive east were pretty
awful – the mostly dirt to Kharbarovsk was wet, muddy and full of pot holes,
and there were lots of road construction as well ... and it rained most
of the time – the cars were covered in mud and so were we!!; Stopped
in the town of Amazar on the Amazar River and after driving around the
town we finally found the ‘shop' and got a few supplies – bread and beer
being the daily staples; Check out the use of the ‘abacus'
– it was often used in many of the village shops.
The river just out of Amazar was a blaze of colour and we
couldn't help but stop and take some pics; Another very second rate camp
site, but all we could find in the mud and rain – our PipeLine camp – Viv
saw a fleeting glimpse of the one and only wild deer for the whole trip here.
Next day the weather was better and we did our usual hunt
for some bread and beer – turned off the road to a small village and finally
found the ‘shop' (they look just like somebody's house); The lady
in the store was very helpful but didn't have any bread – that's how we meet
Natasha and her Mama.
Back outside at the vehicles a woman walked past offering
us 2 loaves of bread that she was carrying in her hands – she
didn't want any money for them either!! We accepted graciously and then asked
if she could sell us a pumpkin (they all grow pumpkins/squash in their vegetable
gardens in their backyards). With sign language and laughter we followed
Natasha to her house, just across the way. From this meeting we had a wonderful
half hour or so with Natasha and her Mama as they loaded us up with not only
pumpkin but potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and eggs (for no money!!!). It was
one of those magical and memorable moments that help make any trip – they
were the most wonderful, warm, friendly and hospitable people you could ever
hope to meet
and we loved our time spent them,
even though they couldn't speak a word of English and our Russian was very,
Our little group in the front yard of their house – Mama's
house in the background was her pride and joy (we are pictured inside it,
above, on her blue couch) – it was very little, just a front room with lounge
and bed, a small room with a fantastic old large stove and an old bath (see
above with Mama and the eggs she gave us) and that was about it; the
small green building beside it was a small kitchen and a large room with
a single bed, which also acted as a store room for their vegetables.
Our Waterpit Camp turned out to be a beauty,
located just a few hundred metres off the main road, but well hidden from
the road - the usual state of our camp when we had water – washing everywhere.