Russia the second - for us the country of bikers

Russia the second



Russia is for us the land of motorcyclists. Already in Volgograd, we were picked up and looked after by the local motorcycle club,  on the second entry to Russia we should experience more of the same   .

Another border crossing without major problems. The worst part of is is once again the wait at the border. There are two long queues  with both trucks and every other type of vehicles . We join and stand in the sweltering sun . Repeatedly cars drive past the queue which is annoying because nothing happens for us . From the car in front of us heaps of people get out and walk to the front . Suddenly the cars move on and the one in front of us does not move . Spontaneously, Kevin pulls in front of  the car and promptly there's trouble - we had thought the driver had also be got out and walked away - wrong, he had only seen no reason to close the gap immediately and is now completely outraged at our audacity . We try to calm things down and to suggest to him that he should just go ahead again next time , but he is still snapped .

I decide to have a look at the front as well to find what takes so long here . I find out that at the beginning is not God but a Russian customs officer with a barrier. I try to figure out if he has a system but it does not disclose itself to me. He keeps letting through a varying amount of vehicles and then the queue comes to life and everyone moves as quickly as possible. . I look at this for a while, then buy 2 bottles of ice cold water and wander back to Kevin . He has made room for the Russian to pull in front again and now the  tempers  have smoothed out again - he is surrounded by the remaining vehicle occupants and chews them with sunflower seeds. The now jolly driver introduces himself as a traffic policeman from Moscow and even gives Kevin his police badge. We distribute our cards and the daughter has quickly found our website on her smartphone .
 Eventually, the wait is over and we make it to the other side of the barrier. We welcome to be able to park our Liza in the shade and someone shows us where to present our passports. The man at the passport control cannot believe that we have gone so far and now want to travel through Siberia , unable to speak a word of Russian and laughs his head off, stamps  giggling the entry form and sends us the customs - here  they just have curious looks at our bike , asks for the size of the tank and other technical things - the contents of the bags and suitcases they are not interested in so when they have admired the bike we get a friendly wave and zap - we are back in Russia.
We have decided to exchange our Kazakh money right on the border and for the first time we find neither a road-exchanger nor one of the little hut with change bureaus to put our plan into action. So while we think that what we do now , a car stops beside us and a pretty young Russian woman comes running towards us . She speaks very good English and tells us that she is from Krasnoyarsk and if we are going in the direction of Lake Baikal we will pass that way. She is a biker herself and wants us to give her a call when we get to there.

She gets one of our cards and I get the mobile phone number. We take the obligatory  pictures and then everryone gets on their way.

We need 2 days to get to Krasnoyarsk and keep getting lost again and again in Russian cities where the sign posting is as good as nonexistent. The Russians are much more reserved than the Kazakhs , but everyone we ask for the way with hands and feet is very helpful and friendly . The landscape is changing rapidly and there are hills again and of course the famous Siberian birch forests. And monster mosquitoes! !
Once we end up in the forest in search of a suitable campsite and even find a mowed clearing. As we stop here, however , the bastards jump right on us in clouds. We stay not only in our motorcycle clothing but keep also our gloves and helmets – the full gear to build our tent - still the bloodthirsty suckers find places where they can sting and we adopt a hectic speed to get  everything ready and disappear as fast as we can in the tent – this time we just have  to eat bread and tomatoes and then  we go to bed . In the morning the mosquitoes are still or once again buzzing around us. Again we put on the entire outfit to take down our tent and have everything strapped on in record time - washing and brushing your teeth has to go outof the window  today - let's get out of here !
We are just before Krasnojark when we decide to ring the number that Leesha gave me. I have 35, - € credit. I dial it and without listening rambel on with my explanation of who I am and what I want in English and after a while the completely befuddled voice of an elderly lady asked me in German : "Who 's there? " It takes a few moments for me  to get it , I 'm connected wrong and I wonder why. So once I clarify which country the lady is I explain to the also baffled woman that I am connected not only with the wrong person but also with the wrong country . After I hang up there are still about 10, - € credit left . By other phone numbers , which I have collected on the way I find out the country code for Russia and try again . This time everything works as intended and I clarify with Leesha that I 'll get back to her when we are in Krasnoyarsk. Now everything is simple - we stop at the town sign and wait here until they find us .
First she takes us to the city center where we go eat something and a lot of bikers with their girlfriends who all belong to the Frozen Souls- one of the local motorcycle clubs- meet us here. They are finding a hostel for us and take us and our luggage there. On our own we would definitely not have found this . It is at first glance a rather run-down apartment building , and the hostel here is on the 4th  floor - marked externally by a banner from window to window with Xocteb .Up to now we are not allowed to pay anything , and even for the first night in the hostel Leesha pays despite my protests - on the grounds that we can not stay at one of the bikers and also we were on tour , so they are practically obliged to care for us . From now on, we are taken under the wings of the bikers . We stay for 4 days and 3 nights of that time at Denis’  who also runs the Motopoint , the local pub of the Frozen Souls . Denis brings us to his datcha , where we experience a real Russian banya and barbecue Russian kebab .

 We have difficulties to even pay for a round of drinks because they just don’t  let us pay for anything. We make trips to the countryside and the sights of the city : Krasnoyarsk is the 3rd  largest city in Siberia and is immortalized on the Russian 10 ruble note , with the bridge over the Jennissey , the small chapel on the mountain and the large reservoir near the city - all of this we visit together with Ilia , Anna and the Music man ( as we call him , because he has equipped his bike with a crazy sound system that always churns out loud rock music and causes curious attention everywhere in the city).  Sorry Frozen Souls but you were soo many and we are really bad at remembering names! We are interviewed by television, which Max has organized and Ilia helps as a translator while the Musicman drives the camera man around, we get help with the necessary maintenance on the motorcycle and contacts for the wayahead. They have traced with difficulty a bank, where we can change our Kazakh money , feed us with delicious Russian pizza, and we get given a lot of presents and Kevin has a crash course on the drumming,  I use the wifi connection in Motopoint to bring  the website up to the latest events and to get open matters sorted.... . If we had not heard so many stories from the Siberian winter , we might still be there now - so we had to tear ourselves away in time.
In Irkutzk we are again collected by a motorcyclist while we stop in front of the town sign to make a plan of how we can find the club that has been contacted by the Frozen Souls to take care of us . We are escorted to his club and then put up there - we change the brake pads here and otherwise use the day to rest.
The next day , however we continue to Lake Baikal . It 's pouring with rain and we reach the lake pretty soaking wet (my motorcycle jacket zip works no longer ) and chilly .

We have come down a nice pass but : “ as one can see – one can’t see a bl... thing.” I have finally found out what hotel is in Russian and more importantly how it is written. We come down the pass and in a bend we suddenly find both smoking huts for Qmul , as well as the first look at the 8th  largest lake in the world but at the same time is the biggest pure freshwater lake and the deepest lake .
But somehow we just do not feel like appreciating this. We are on the search for the next Roctihhia( this or something like that is how hotel is written in Russian). We soon find one and in our room spread out everything that is wet – in a short period of time quite sizable puddles spread in the room.

After we had a roof over our head dry clothes on and have warmed up the next need in the ladder of hierarchies of needs moves to attention – our empty stomachs rumble and our minds produce mouth watering pictures of fresh smoked Omul – a specialty of the area. Omul is of the salmon family

which is found exclusively in Lake Baikal and some of its tributaries , and it should be honored accordingly.

We buy a freshly smoked specimen of the fish some fresh bread, gherkins, tomatoes and a Russian beer which has been  draughted into big plastic bottles from a tap and have a proper gorgeous feast in our hotel room. 

The next day we ride up the east side of the lake and we have not yet decided where to go next when a motorcyclist from Ulan Ude stops next to us and what happens next reminds me of an advert on the German telly : an old woman is being walked across the road by a guy who is full of the Christmas spirit and as she can’t stop him of doing so she misses her bus.....

Well we somehow end up in Ulan Ude with him and he finds us a “cheap” hotel as there is no bike club in UU and no one to take us in. The hotel turns out to be the most expensive of the whole journey and we land in there and wonder what just happened here..... The next day we drive back to Lake Baikal , at least we got thanks to the hotel stay a police registration for Russia , which will turn out to be a plus point later on the border, but more of that later . Up to a certain point on the northeast shore up to where there is  a new tourism center with a yacht marina the road is a perfect race track – afterwards it turns into a bone crusher, sand slopes interspersed with thick pieces of stone , corrugated grooves and holes. We drive until we find a sign to a campground . A bumpy green lane goes deeper and deeper into the forest and at the end there is an old man with few teeth , which tells us that this is the land of the general (who ever that is) and we are definitely wrong here . I question where we can go with our "Palatka " (tent ). He points to follow him and runs like a 20 -year-old on his bike in front of us - a collection of tents turn out to be representing the campsite. He's a really funny nice guy , and with hands and feet, and our extremely limited Russian vocabulary (did I already mention that my dictionary of Russian key phrases I purchased from Amazon has asmany benefits  as a handbrake on a canoe - the words are written in German and in phonetic Russian, but not in the Cyrillic equivalent , and since I obviously despite phonetic spelling can’t  pronounce the words in a way that one can understand , I cannot even show it to people, because this no Russian can read! ) ... anyway, the funny old man told us that he once in 6 weeks ( or months ) cycled around the entire lake . We invite him to a vodka, but he declines because he still has to heat up the Banja for the General and the Boss would fire him if he was reeking of alcohol . Considering we used hands and feet is this is quite some conversation.
He sets off again and we build our tent pretty much right on the shore of the lake . We decide to stay here two nights - we pay 400 rubles for a toilet which consists of a hole in the ground with plastic tarp shelter around it and a few concrete boxes for waste , but especially for someone keeping an eye on things so we can have a day out and can drive around for a day on the lake without ballast .
Around here it feels as if you are at the sea - you cannot see the other shore and the waves are breaking on the sandy beach and there are seagulls everywhere. We even have blue skies and sunshine, and of course, I must also least have a little swim in the lake and then I wash our laundry (biodegradable ) in the deepest lake in the world !
The next day, we explore the area. At one of the many large inflows we wait for hours for the ferry and meet a German from Kiel, who came here with his Russian girlfriend , to visit her family – of course a meeting like this calls for a vodka toast . The ferry is just mind-blowing -  small boat moves a larger one, which has no boundaries across the river and so the trucks that are too large simply hang over both sides of the vessel. To dock the small Bott swings around the large one and then positiones himself behind it , pushing it close to the peer with engine power while the vehicles drive on and off ....  health and safety would have a field day.

After 3 days we head towards Mongolia. We stop in Ulan Ude, because the throttle return spring is broken. With a makeshift repair we fit a used spring from a car which is too strong and too long at  a garage , but we can ride so that is good.
Of the cities visited Ulan Ude we liked most. The people here are more Asian looking and so is the style of building. The city does not have as many high-rise buildings, a few Buddhist Temples and the musical fountain in the city center has it done it for me.
The following day we get to the next border and not everything goes smoothly here anymore. We have overstayed our visas by mistake because we thought the 30 days  count from entry - wrong! We are sent 230 km back to Ulan Ude , where we spend the weekend , because Saturday and no office day. Monday morning we are in the visa authority that sends us to the migration police  where we have to submit fingerprints and even late in the evening we are brought before a judge. Here we must proclaim our regret. Our punishment is a 5 years ban from entering the country again and a 2000 rubles fine .
Too bad that our wonderful time in Russia has found such a lousy end and we are happy when we can leave the country now and move on to Mongolia-