When I thought of Siberia, cold empty harsh snow covered plains came to mind. One of the reasons we chose a route via Iran and ‘the stans’ was because I felt the Russian route would mean endless dreary roads, harsh distrusting people speaking like James Bond villains and cold, cold weather.
What I did not expect of Siberia were the endless meadows that we hit first when entering from Kazakhstan. Nor did I expect to end up drinking Brunello di Montalcino in a hip little bar just across from out hotel in Barnaul, a city of over half a million people. Never had I imagined being dragged from the ‘hip and intellectual’ wine bar to the local biker bar by a small group of very friendly locals.
Moving closer to Mongolia we headed in to the Altay region a truly beautiful and impressive mountainous area where Russia, China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan come together. No decrepit hotels, but lovely small cabins in the woods. All in all, Siberia and Russia were wonderfully surprising.
Another surprise: we’ve been able to drop the murderous pace we’d been keeping. Ever since Osh we’ve known about a shipping company in UB (Ulaanbaatar for the uninitiated), that specializes in shipping motorcycles back to Germany. Once that seed was planted, the thought of slowing down and flying home instead of having to come back over land all the way took hold. So now we have the time to enjoy these parts and Mongolia at a slower pace, leisurely make our way to UB and then fly home and get back to our girls two weeks sooner than planned!