Thursday, July 23, 2009

July 23 - Border crossing for locals only?!? What the hell!!

Our plan for the rest of our stay in Kazakhstan was to cycle east out of Leninogorsk across the nearby border crossing to Russia on the day our Russian visa takes effect and would get us to Onguday in Russia in only 280km or so. This road to Russia was built in the last couple of years and we were told that it is in great shape providing us with a very direct route through Russia (see below map shown in red)

Once in Leninogorsk though we heard rumors that the crossing was only open to locals only so we went to the local border office and they confirmed that there was no way we were going to get through that crossing....so back to the maps we went to try to find an alternate route.

The best route that we could come up with would extend the 280km to Onguday that we had planned to 975km (see below map shown in green at 700km+275km). The problem with this is that Roma (our local source of information!) assured us that it would be a boring and brutal ride.
As well this detour would add at least a couple weeks to our Russian segment and we are already running out of time to get all the way across Mongolia before the snow comes and winter sets in.

After much mulling and debating over coffee (albeit instant coffee which is all that can be found), beer, borscht and donairs we opted to take a train to Biysk (shown in blue in the below map) which brings us directly into the beautiful Russian Altai mountains and will save us some time hopefully making for a warmer ride across Mongolia this fall.

The map of our options (click on the map for a larger version)


While the first few weeks of our trip have been a bit more bus and train than we originally planned, but I guess this is to be expected. There is not alot of information available (that we could find) for this area (e.g. our lonely planet guide has only covered two of the cities we have been in so far) and what information is available is often inaccurate or outdated. As well it seems that some mistakes need to be made first hand before you really realize that you should have known better!

With that said we are having a good time in Leninogorsk hangining out, doing local rides and hikes and reading but we will be happy to get back on the bikes in a couple of days and tackle the Altai mountains! I will try to get some more pics uploaded of our stay in Leninogorsk at this link (http://picasaweb.google.ca/Jennifer.Zwarych/20090723Ridder2?feat=directlink), but the internet here is painfully slow so my patience may expire before all the uploads finish!

-Mike

1 comment:

Max said...

dear friends/ it was very nice to meet you in that bus to barnaul really/ so don't worry because of the difficulties in customs/ because of them i know you now and it's very good/