December 06, 2006 GMT
'Russian' for the border

The weather was closing in. My visa problems at the hotel in Krasnoyarsk, made me concerned about my date with the russian border guards.

Without my merino thermals, I was already numb with cold.


God bless these roadside cafes and the cute waitstaff.


After 400 miles of freezing rain and terrifyingly slick roads, I reached Kemerov.
With my steering compromised by a nasty pothole, my fingers numb with cold and my extended visa due to expire (again), I thought I'd catch the train through the Russian Steppes.

Not so easy. With Nikolai translating on my cell phone, it was established that I needed a train that carried cargo AND passengers leaving from a town called Taiga - 120 clicks north. The very nice station master (strong babushka type) gave me a beautiful old map of the area and directions to Taiga. The train was leaving the next morning at 10.15.

I had the choice of staying in Kemerov for the night or risk the 120 km journey to Taiga.

Chose the latter and paid a taxi driver to show me the route out of town. It was beginning to get dark, still raining and I had 120 kms to ride with suspect steering and poor lights.

I stopped for gas, but when I tried to restart...the battery was too weak. I started pushing my bike down a side road behind the gas station but the further I went, the grimmer it became...then a flash of spare Russian battery connected to the main weak battery by jumper cables gave me just enough juice to start up.

By now it was dark and still raining. I started back to Kemerov to find a hotel, but instead opted to set up camp just off the main road behind this (I hoped) abandoned building.


I set up camp...English agent....deep behind enemy lines


In the morning, still raining and I had to reach Taiga for the 10.15 to Moscow. The bike wouldn't start again but I used the old spare battery trick to get her fired up.


Freezing cold again, pouring and a map written in Russian! I was never so glad to see this sign (Taiga!)


The ethereal mist around the sign is my exhaust condensing in the cold.
I wasn't home yet. I still needed to find the train station. Seconds after I took this shot, the rain turned to heavy snow. I flagged down some cops and they led me to the train station.

With only seconds left on my simcard, I had to get my bike and myself on the train.

Sergei, the station cargo master helped me out.


He was smiling because he just made a quick 1,200 roubles 'helping' me out with some currency exchange...only gave me 4/5's the rate...but at this point was glad to be out of the snow and the train beckoned.

Wot's the plank for?




Four burly Russian train men muscled her up the final push onto the train.



and lightened my wallet by another 500 roubles for 'uncrated cargo' fees.

All aboard for Moscow!
The bike fare - 3690.00 roubles ($140.00)
Personal train fare - 1670.00 roubles ($ 65.00)
currency 'exchange' fee - 1200.00 roubles ($ 46.00)
'uncrated cargo' fee - 500.00 roubles ($ 20.00)

total fare to Moscow - 7060.00 roubles ($271.00)


Third class on the TranSiberian Express!



Oh yes, my friends...those sweatstains are real!

but sure was nice to have a bunk to call my own

This is my 'glad to be out of the cold, still moving at 50 m.p.h and ready to crash for the night' cheese-eating grin.


Not so fast...remember the two guys who helped load my bike onto the train?


Sergei (on the right) and Nikolai invited me to their private cargo cabin...


for dinner...very nice


and of course....


one for you...


one for you...


one for you...


Hey Kirsten....recognize the ol' vodka eyes???!!!


Not to mention the spagetti sauce.

When I tried to explain the battery charger had 6 amp for faster charging or 4 amp charge for more of a trickle charge, Sergei expounded his battery charger knowledge by pointing to the 4 amp charge and making slow lewd motions toward his lady friend. With the 6 amp, he did the same - just twice as fast!!! Ah, the universal language of love!!!


I have no idea how I returned to my bunk that night....eight coaches away. It was a relief to know all my valuables were exactly where they should be. I had developed on unconscious knowledge of the whereabouts of valuables by this time because I had been using the same pockets for the same items for over three months....serious security system!

Next morning...with me a tad hungover, I took this snapshot of Marina - our coach matron - one thing I learnt quickly was that no-one messed with the coach matrons! But she was very helpful and sweet.


Each coach was equipped with it's own hot water heater. What a blessing this was. With instant coffee (bought from Marina or bring you own) tea, soup, pot noodles etc...this water heater was the social center of each coach



It was fueled by coal and trash from the passengers....brilliant!!!!


Then there's the potty.


That's the daylight of the tracks underneath... a foot operated pedal released the flotsam and jetsom straight onto the holding tanks on the TranSiberianiski!

The ends of each coach was reserved for smokers.



The very nice dining room never had any business


Maybe the food was crap?

This cute Ukranian clothes seller tried to sell me a sweater


But my Russian travelling neighbours soon took up the transaction on my behalf led by this lady opposite me,


who demand the Ukranian burn a tuft of the sweater to prove it was indeed real animal was. She then negotiated me a better deal...about $14.00....and had the deal wrapped up in no time!


These two scamps spoke very loud Russian for three days and nights


After three delightful days and nights we pull up in Moscow.
A fond farewell to my cargo trainmen friends


and welcome to Moscow



Posted by Richard Lindley at December 06, 2006 09:00 PM GMT

NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

Next HU Eventscalendar

See all events


Latvia to Australia, an inspirational 5 month journey full of unexpected adventures!

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!