Our tour guide Alex shared his impressions about two Trans-Siberian Tours he did this year

How I traveled over the Trans-Siberian Route (Moscow-Vladivostok, 10 thousand km) twice in one summer and what do I think about it.

Firstly, at the beginning of the year I did not plan at all to go so far. During the winter I visited several motorcycle shows in Italy, Germany, Finland and some other countries and there I saw great interest from motorcycle travelers in Russia and exactly in the Moscow-Vladivostok Route. We published such tour at our web site and formed several groups for summer. Initially I believed that we could find a guide who already knows roads, places, attractions, who knows English and can lead the group. It turned out to be an illusion.

After research we found that there are no such people in Russia (or we haven’t met them yet). The main problem for us was that it’s not enough just to ride this road, but we were looking for a guy who has knowledge of the secondary roads, who knows all the sights in all the cities. And with the spirit of adventure riding, when you can easily go from the main road into an unremarkable village to see what's there. When at the gas station you learn from local residents about minor roads and river crossings, which are not marked on the maps. That is curious, that has a knowledge of history, culture, traditions. We didn't succeed in our search. But I'm not at all saddened by that fact, because, firstly, now such a person is at least in my face (modest, I know), and secondly, and most importantly, Trans-Siberian tour turned out to be the best trip in my life. 

 

Do not get me wrong, Sochi, Crimea, St. Petersburg, the cities of the Golden Ring, Karelia - it's all too beautiful and interesting, but it can not be compared with the Urals, Siberia, Baikal, Trans-Baikal Territory and the Far East. There's a different life, different people, different Russia. Unusually, beautifully, non-curiously and for real.

But lets begin with history. The Trans-Siberian Railway (Great Siberian Route / Trakt) is a railway connecting Moscow with Far East. This is 9288.2 km of tracks, the longest railway in the world.

The grandiose construction began in 1891. During the first 12 years, 7,5 thousand kilometers of tracks were laid, practically manually, without the use of complicated equipment. In terms of the pace of construction and scope of work, the Great Siberian Route was unrivaled in the world. Construction was conducted by the hands of exiled prisoners, soldiers, local peasants and those who came to build the longest railway in the world from the European part of the country. In the midst of the construction work involved about 90 thousand people. The construction was completed in 1916.

 

A few noteworthy facts - the pole of the cold of the Great Siberian route is located on the Mogocha-Skovorodino section (the Transbaikalian region and the Amur region, respectively). In winter, here it occasionally reaches minus 60 degrees. In addition, on this site there is a continuous zone of permafrost. Even in August, snow may fall in these places (at the end of May when I was here it was raining and it was + 5-7 degrees, in August it was also raining, but it was warmer + 14-15 degrees).

The longest bridge on the Trans-Siberian river is thrown across the Amur. It was built in 1913-1916. "Amur beauty", as the locals called it, became the longest bridge in Russia and the second longest in the world.

The total length of only the largest bridges of Transsib (bridge over the Amur, Zeysky bridge, Kama bridge, Yenisei bridge, Ob bridge, Irtysh bridge) is 7 kilometers 177 meters.

The highway passes through the territories of 12 regions, 5 territories, 2 republics and 1 district, crosses 16 large rivers, among which such giants as Volga, Kama, Yenisei, Amur and Irtysh.

But these are all the facts about the railway, and we also travel by motorcycles. As for the highway, its construction is completed quite recently, literally 5 years ago. In 2012, Putin decided to drive on the Lada (Russian car) from Chita to Blagoveshchensk and on this occasion, Rosavtodor, Federal Ministry for Road Construction, asphalted the last earthy part, about 2000 km. And before that the Trans-Siberian journey was a risky and dangerous business for several reasons.

Firstly, beyond the Urals, many sections of the road were of very poor quality and there were practically no services where you could repair (today in all major cities there are BMW dealers). Near Omsk, Chita and some other cities there are still parts of the old Siberian tract, through which you can drive and understand how the road looked 10 years ago. Pits, potholes, large joints, plots without asphalt.

Secondly, after Chita five years ago the road basically ended and then almost 2000 km of the primer began without any infrastructure (where Putin traveled in 2012). On this site, and now not much, but compared to what it was, it's much better. Cellular communication is still not everywhere there, before it was not at all. Considering that this is a territory of permafrost and the weather here is dramatically changing, traveling around this site at that time was a matter of brave people.

Thirdly, the lucky ones who reached Blagoveshchensk turned out to be in the "criminal" Far East. Truckers and locals told me how in Khabarovsk at one time local bandits took money for permission to pass with the transport through "their" city. It is clear that this was a relatively long time, but still until the last years this road was dangerous, waggons robbed, at night they drained off the diesel engine and removed the wheels. Therefore, until recently, the Business Lines and other transport companies did not go to the Far East. Too high risks that the machine will be robbed. But for the last 5 years the situation has changed for the better and now it is calm and safe on the road during the day. Although I was stopped at the exit from Chita by Police and they warned to be careful, further, the lieutenant told me, "wild places" begin.

But, as I said above, today the situation has changed for the better. At least there was an infrastructure and a good road, which means that almost everyone can make a trip around the Trans-Siberian Railway and for this purpose one does not need to collect an entire expedition.

I traveled this year twice in Transsib and here are the conclusions for myself on the basis of these trips

1) Most of the people dont know how Siberia and the Far East looks like. They do not even imagine what a big and beautiful territory it is. What kind of mountains, forests, fields and meadows, rivers and lakes there are, what is taiga and what nature in the Far East looks like
2) In Siberia there are very kind and friendly people. At each gas station they approached us and wished us luck, were photographed. At the traffic lights, we were waved for good luck. We were treated to and invited to visit
3) The quality / steepness of the trip is determined not by the kilometers traveled, but by the number of new acquaintances and new friends. We have everything in this plan on the level. Andrei Chuguevsky in Chita, Igor Shalygin in Taishet, Andrey and Jeanne on Baikal, Evgeniia Ovchinnikova in Yekaterinburg, Sergey in Krasnoyarsk, Andrei in Omsk, Vladimir and Vladimir in Irbit, the guys in the Irish pub in Chita, my mother and grandmother in Yurga, the sister of my wife in Jurga, friends from Yurga who gave us home honey and mead (Thanks guys !!), dealers in Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk and Vladivostok, guys from Ulan Ude , who helped us to take the Japanese to the city, an unfamiliar man, who gave Andre a bottle of wine on Lake Baikal, and many others. It was cool, I'm sure with many we'll meet again!

To finish my point, I want to say to the last, that having traveled twice Transsib, I understand that I saw half the interesting places by force. But there is a southern route through Chelyabinsk, Lake Turgoyak and Zyuraktul. And there is also a northern route through Kirov. But you can drive from Novosibirsk through the Altai to Mongolia and immediately go up through Ak-Dovurak and Abakan to Krasnoyarsk. And from Novosibirsk you can go through Tomsk, and not through Kemerovo. And how many interesting places in Buryatia, in the Far East?

I do not know, if I inspired  you with my story about the Trans-Siberian Route to begin your journey (not necessarily on a motorcycle, you can travel by car or train), but next year I will go again on this route. It's not enough for me, I'd like to study the places where I've already been and to visit places where I have not been. And you want to share this knowledge and acquaintances with you, so that you too at some point made a journey along the Trans-Siberian Route.

Thank you for reading to the end, good luck to all of you!