October 12, 2006 GMT

Beautiful paved road from Vladivostok to Kharbarovsk.


Weather was beautiful, as was the countryside...this Russian Far Eastern stuff was a breeze!!!

Roadside stands selling locally grown produce. This is the only way for a lot of Russians to make a living. A lot of the stands were selling honey. This shot's for my fellow beekeeper back in Boston....Hi Jayne!!!


Decided to camp halfway after an easy days ride. Found this spot by a lake.


Pretty sunset!


Followed minutes later by a spectacular moonrise!


Oh what a beautiful morning!!!



Having let air out of the tyres to go on the mud, I killed the battery using my cyclepump to re-inflate.

No problem....Just flag down a friendly Russian...


All juiced up!!! thanks very much!!!


Made it to Kharbarovsk by nightfall where we were greeted by Igor and Lena


and Kysenia


After a delicious dinner...


....Igor led us to his unfinished apartment. Igor, Lena and Kysenia had been living with Lena's mother for the last three months while their place was being fixed up. It's very common in Russia for many family members to live together. The apartment will be the height of Russian chic when it's finished.

This was my space


Nikolai chose the west wing


Next morning, tour of Kharbarovsk....

Beautiful church. A lot of these churches were recently rebuilt after the destruction of buildings by the nice Mr Stalin.


Illegal photo inside church


Kharbarovsk was my favourite Russian city. It had beautiful architechture.

This building was 150 years old


and the look and feel of what the Russians call 'European'.


with the hustlebustle of an affluent western city

But the stamp of communism is always close at hand with their ugly concrete structures juxtaposed against the newer, more attractive buildings


The river Amur not only provided a beautiful backdrop


But was also a trade highway for light...


and heavy industry which generates the wealth and affluence of Kharbarovsk


Kharbarovsk by night


Street side mobile Chinese cobbler


But he was too expensive for Nikolai so we found another to fix his shoes

This lady is a postal worker


I sent some unwanted stuff back home. In a Russian post office, first you get in line for them to measure your package. Then they take this muslin material and sew a custom fitted package cover with one of these old sewing machines, right there in the Post Office!!! Then, once stitched up, you get in another line to pay for it. Takes about two hours to mail a package.

Russia is as beautiful as it is big. But there is also a brutal life and death element that is more apparent here. Whether it is the Mafia dudes zooming around in expensive cars or these poor cats that were killed by a pack of dogs right by the secure parking for the bike.



Well, the next morning (now Sept. 10th) it was time for the big off towards Chita.

Unfortunately, the bike was electrically dead. I suspected it had something to do with the hardwired radar detector lead shorting out during heavy rain.


But Igor, Nikolai and myself went in search not only for a new battery, but also a Russian battery charger. NB. When travelling through continents that use 240V appliances, make sure your 110 V devices have the capacity for 240v system.
My beautiful (and very heavy) optimate battery tender was useless once I left North America, and I had to buy another charger to boot.

Igor and Nikolai told me to stay in the car because they could get a better price...you know, being Russian an' all.

Here's Igor in the Russian auto part markets.


Finally, juiced up, packed up and ready to say goodbye to Igor, Lena, Kysenia and Lena's Mum.


or so we thought!!!


Posted by Richard Lindley at October 12, 2006 05:25 PM GMT

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