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Mikhail Rybochkin's Posts
Mikhail has posted 4 reports and 33 photos.

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Altai Republic Visit: 2009-10
2009-11-17 - A road trip to Altai has been on my mind for quite a long time. In 2007 Charles Veley and I drove as far as Gorno-Altaisk where we made a U-turn and proceeded East in the direction of Vladivostok. Due to lack of time the vast area south of Gorno-Altaisk remained unexplored.
Now my intention was to drive along the Chuisky Trakt (M52 road) all the way from Gorno-Altaisk to Kosh-Agach in order to evaluate whether the road was scenic enough to please a car traveler’s eye and to check availability and accessibility of such features as stone she-idols, ritual and burial mounds, sacred springs, etc.
My Lada’s off-road capability is rather limited but anyway I attempted driving short distances off the main road just to see for myself if the roads were good for future trips by a 4WD vehicle
On the 5th day of the trip we drove by Novosibirsk and hit the Chuisky Trakt and soon entered Altai. The area called “Altai” is administratively divided into Altai Krai which is almost flat and the Republic of Gorny (literally “mountainous”) Altai. The latter is much more scenic and touristically attractive.
Gorno-Altaisk is a small city. Two hours are enough to see its central square with ever-present Lenin, national theatre, governmental buildings and war memorial.
For the night we moved to the village of Chemal. The road runs along the rock-dotted Katun River. The views are nice but often marred by touristic facilities. The area is heavily touristed in summer months.
In Chemal we were the only guests in the only hotel-like looking building still being finished inside.
On the outskirts of Chemal a wobbly cable bridge over the Katun River leads to a small island with a tiny wooden church rebuilt recently to the original 1849 design. Views are very pretty.
Father south along the Chuisky Trakt the views are getting more and more scenic, traces of touristic activity are getting less and less visible and soon disappear completely. Traffic is low. There are more cows and sheep on the road than vehicles. No traffic cops.
First mountain pass named «Seminsky». Altitude 1700 m ASL. On top the pass accommodates a monument commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Altai people joining Russia on their own free will obviously seeking protection from Mongols regularly sacking the area, a tea-house and a small market selling honey, nuts, and carved wooden idols.
Every village has a well cared for war memorial reminding of the civil war and mourning victims of the WWII.
Absolutely marvelous life-size Lenin stands in the village of Inya clearly visible against the blue sky.
The well-known attraction of Altai is kamennaya baba (stone she-idols). Some are found just a mile from this Lenin statue. All faceless.
A faced one can be seen near Kosh-Agach together with a ritual stone mound, prayer flags and a sacrificial facility to sacrifice lambs and babies.
Kosh-Agach welcomes a tired car traveler with a primitive style painting glorifying unbreakable unity of the Altai, Russian and Kazakh people. The terrain is absolutely barren. No trees, no bush. Altitude 1650 m. The only eye-catching feature is a radar station.
In Kosh-Agach we overnighted at a very simple inn with a horror-hole toilet in the yard and turned back to Aktash.
In Aktash we took a dirt road leading to a small gorge called “Red Gate”. Having a sturdy 4WD vehicle one can go by this road as far as Lake Teletskoe seeing other lakes, waterfalls, burial mounds and erosional rock pillars known as “Mushroom Rocks”.
In short, the drive along the Chuisky Trakt is an enjoyable and relaxing exercise.
From mountainous Altai we moved back to flat Altaisky Krai where we stayed one day in luxury conditions of Belokurikha resort.



Magadan Oblast Visit: 2012-9
2012-12-12 - August 21 - September 14 I drove from Irkutsk to Magadan and back travelling by the Amur, Lena and Kolyma highways. One of my objectives was to find the Dneprovsky gulag where my grandfather served his 9-year term in 1940-s. And I found it and managed to make my way to it. If you want to travel from Yakutsk to Magadan or vice versa by road in August - September 2013, please contact me. In the meantime please have a look at some of my pictures taken during that wonderful trip.


Omsk Oblast Visit: 2009-10
2009-11-19 - In the recent years I drove past Omsk four times. This time driving from Novosibirsk to Tobolsk I decided to stay overnight and to see the city's main attractions. Omsk was founded in 1716 and is more attractive than Novosibirsk. The central part has some century-old architecture, monuments and quirky public sculptures. The great Russian writer Fedor Dostoevsky served his 5-year term for subversive activity in local prison. The prison’s office today houses the literature museum mostly dedicated to Dostoevsky’s involuntary stay.


Some days ago on the way to Altai we stayed overnight at a small motel in the outskirts of Omsk. In the morning before proceeding to Novosibirsk we visited the Achairsky Monastery located 55 km from Omsk. The monastery is a riverside convent founded in 1905. In the 1920s closed and turned into a gulag camp. The camp functioned 16 years and took a heavy toll of 200,000 human lives. The monastery was restored in early 1990s. A peculiar feature of the monastery which makes it special and highly advisable to visit is a baptistery filled with warm mineral water flowing from the depth of 1168 m. Visitors are free to soak in the baptistery.
I found no traces or mention of gulag but in fact we were after the self christening first of all. Having arrived before 9 a.m., we found the entire monastery at our disposal, the baptistery was also unoccupied. Soon two Omsk women joined us in the baptistery saying that by noon the baptistery would not be able to admit all suffering believers who were flocking the monastery from all around Omsk oblast.
The water flowing from the sacred source is clear but to my taste is not good to drink. It slightly smells and tastes hydrogen sulfide. However this fact does not stop believers from filling 5 liter plastic bottles for take-away purposes. We couldn’t resist taking away 10 liters of sacred water as well and used it to wash hands and the windshield throughout the trip.
The senior nun at the entrance gate actively sells miscellaneous religious trifles including women’s swimming gowns for bathing in the baptistery.
Yeastless bread from the convent’s bakery is highly advisable. Our experience shows that it keeps freshness and taste absolutely unchanged for 5 days.

More photos of Omsk, Novosibirsk, Tobolsk, Abalak Monastery, Achairsky Monastery, Museum of Grigory Rasputin can be seen here:
http://picasaweb.google.ru/rem662001r/WesternSiberia?feat=directlink




Sakha Republic (Yakutia) Visit: 2012-9
2013-01-17 - Use this link to see my report of my road trip Irkutsk - Magadan - Irkutsk. The report is in Russian but contains lots of pictures. http://travel.drom.ru/22254/
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