Disclaimer: Due to the number of comments that have been received it has been felt necessary to clarify that this trip is in no way based on "The Long Way Round" which the authors of the trip were not aware and nor was it first broadcast of at the time at which this trip was drunkenly conceived. The authors of this trip would like to distinguish their intended trip from the journey undertaken in "The Long Way Round" in that unlike Charlie Borman and Ewan McGregor they are not experienced riders (they have both only been riding motorbikes for just over one year), they are not receiving sponsorship and they will not have a support crew with them at any point on the journey. Just to avoid any further confusion it has been thought that it would be helpful to point out that Tom Horovitch and Peter Caley are both fictional characters and are not famous film stars.

Friday, August 04, 2006

До Свидания Россия. Здравстуйте Казахстан! (Goodbye Russia. Hello Kazakhstan!) – Omsk 6664 miles from London

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Beach volleyball in Siberia's searing heat

After five days in Perm the BMW garage, following a Herculean effort on their part, managed to track down somewhere in Moscow a replacement front tyre for my bike which they had shipped to us in Perm.

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The guys at BMW, Perm who worked wonders with my tyre
In addition to doing this they repaired the old tyre with a repair which they guaranteed would make the tyre as good as new. While I do have a few doubts as to whether a repaired front tyre is going to be as good as that I was grateful for their efforts and we were able to enjoy the icon museum (which it turned out also boasted a UNESCO protected collection of religious statues called Perm sculptures) and the sites of Perm with a restful mind.
A London bus in Perm!
One of Perm's more unexpected sights!
We left Perm on the Sunday happy to be back on the road and without too many problems (our time in Russia has made us view being stopped by the police as a minor annoyance rather than a problem!) made the short ride to Yekaterinburg. After two days in Yekaterinburg we saw enough of the city to be slightly disappointed with the place (the guide book had said that Yekaterinburg was one of Russia’s must see cities, but we found the place unattractive and, although it had a nice feel, not terribly interesting) and left for Tyumen.
We stayed in Tyumen for only one night and left early the next morning for Omsk which we reached after a mammoth ride of over four hundred miles on, for the most part, pretty good roads.

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An example of the wooden houses for which Tyumen is famous and of the road works for which Russia is famous

We arrived in Omsk to be greeted by the news that this weekend Omsk is gearing up for its two hundred and ninety year celebrations commemorating its founding in 1716. Coupled with the fact that the Siberian International Marathon was taking place in the city on Saturday meant that the weekend was likely to be quite some party. As we need a bit of time in Omsk to sort out replacement tyres for our bikes in Almaty we are going to stay until Sunday and on Sunday make a break for the Kazak border and the next leg of the trip.
In the time we have been in Russia we have travelled from the European city of St Petersburg with its palaces, canals and museums all the way into Asia to just short of where China and Mongolia border of Russia in the heart of the wilderness that is Siberia.

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Siberian farmers transport logs in a manner which has not changed for generations

In that time we have had a whole range of experiences which have challenged the pre-conceived view we had of Russia when we arrived. With only a few exceptions the people here have been welcoming and friendly and although we speak next to no Russian from the businessmen on the train to St Petersburg who drank and talked with us until the early hours of the morning and then insisted that we pay for nothing, to the guys at the garage in Perm who went to so much effort to track down a tyre for my bike nearly everyone we have met have served to leave us with warm memories of Russia and the Russian people.
When we cross into Kazakhstan, only a few hundred miles from here, we will face a whole new set of challenges and as we leave behind us the still vaguely European feeling Russia and cross over into Central Asia we are acutely aware now of how far we have come since leaving London back in June. We have already started to see indications of how much things will change with mosques becoming more frequent an occurrence in the towns and villages we pass through and there being more people with Chinese and Mongolian features instead of the European and Slavic looking Russian peoples we have encountered so far.
While it will be a shame to leave Russia with so much that we have not yet seen we are worried about the lack of proper import documents for the bikes and although it is tempting to stay for a week or so longer and see places further east of here – in particular the Altay mountains and Tomsk – we don’t want to exacerbate the difficulties with the border guards we are almost certain to face when we leave and so are reluctantly going to take our leave of Mother Russia and head south into Central Asia.

Written by Peter

1 Comments:

At Fri Aug 11, 08:16:00 pm BST, Anonymous Rod said...

incredible journey - tell Tom I could be in Astana on10th September! Can we meet?

 

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