21 January 2015 Time for a ride in the bus. I decided to skip a stretch and take the bus to Spassk-Dalny. Very comfortable. Bus station in Dalnerechensk Again I could just throw my entire bike somewhere in the bottom belly of the bus, no problem. Halfway Spassk-Dalny the bus stops at a small market next to the road where you can get Coca Cola, coffee, a sandwich.
20 January 2015 Today was my day off, I decided to go to the Chinese border, which is maybe five kilometers from the city. Why I wanted to see the Chinese border I am not sure, just curiosity, I wanted to take a photo of China. I did the same once in Poland when I took a photo of Belorussia. Polish border guards showed up out of nowhere in less two minutes.
19 January 2017 Luchegorsk-Znamenka, 55 kilometers, or that was the plan. Stalin is gone, Lenin is everywhere. This is Luchegorsk Znamenka you will not find on Google Maps, but on Nokia Here maps and on openstreetmap.org you can see it. Although there were no hotels on any of those maps, the marine guy had confirmed to me that there was a hotel in Znamenka, although he had never been there himself because real marines sleep outside in the snow.
18 January 2015 I woke up a little late, but this wodka stuff is amazing in that it gave me no headache, I felt totally clear. Wow, maybe that’s why the Russians drink it, to feel totally clear. Okay then, time for another bike ride. From Bikin I rode to Luchegorsk, about 60 kilometers. Now the area south of Bikin is some kind of nature reserve and there are bears and tigers supposedly.
17 January 2015 I didn’t bike. I was happy I had survived the previous two days, but the next city was Bikin, 90 kilometers away, temperature had dropped a little more, and the road was hilly. I was sure I could not make it that far, and also I had no idea about hotels halfway, so worst case case I would have to walk 45 kilometers in freezing temperatures. I thought it was too risky and I took the bus to Bikin.
16 January 2015 I rode from Khor to Vyazemsky, about 55 kilometers. It is not a long trip and while the temperature was below -20º Celcius, there was little wind and a blue sky. In total I think it took me four hours to do the 55 kilometers so speed was low. Why so slow? Low temperature, four layers of clothing, icy road, one centimeter of snow on the road, and thirty kilo luggage on my bike.
15 January 2015 After these two days in Kiinsk I made my first bike ride. Important day, now the trip had started for real. Russians have a saying “you better have twenty friends than twenty rubel” and therefore I was not allowed to go to a hotel. Instead the family where I stayed made a phonecall with a friend named Tamara in Khor and I was supposed to ride to Tamara’s house, only 37 kilometers away.
9 January 2015 On the 9th I took the train to Khabarovsk, an eleven hour train ride. These trains are comfortable, relaxing and they are not expensive, I paid 40 euro for 800 kilometers. I shared a cabin with three other passengers. Some spoke a little English. Each wagon has an attendant that makes sure we have blankets and coffee and tea. There is a hot water machine in each wagon, an impressive piece of equipment.
7 and 8 January 2015 7th and 8th January is Orthodox Christmas. My agenda: buy a train ticket to Khabarovsk, go shopping for extra shoes and gloves, and attend a mass in the Pokrovsky Cathedral. I start with buying the train ticket. In the Netherlands all websites warn that train tickets must be purchased over the internet in advance, because once in Russia you pay double prices and the trains are fully booked.
6 January 2015 I spent some time in the hotel fixing the jetlag, and then in the evening I took a cab to downtown Vladivostok. Just for fun I try getting there with the bus, but after about one kilometer the bus leaves the highway and drives into the village of Trudovoye, and that’s the end point of this bus. Trains don’t run tonight, so all I can do is take a taxi.