The border crossing from Kazakhstan to Russia was really quick. The whole process took only 45 minutes. Then we were in what has been the synonym of far, far away ever since we first looked at a world map when we were kids: Siberia.
The landscape is very green and very flat. Monotonous in a pleasant way.
Fields here are separated by straight rows of trees that end somewhere behind the horizon.
After about 350 kilometers we reached Barnaul, a city with 650.000 thousand inhabitants. To be honest, we had never heard of this town before planning this trip. And we were unsure of what to expect. Instead of a puddle of run-down Soviet Plattenbau buildings Barnaul proved to be a modern city with a high standard of living.
Suddenly, we were not in Asia anymore, we were in Russia. You could see it in the faces, you could hear it on the streets. The roads were perfect. The nightly entertainment was like anywhere in the world though: live music and arm wrestling. For obvious reasons, we chose not to compete.
By coincidence we bumped into Sudhir, Dilip and Deepak, three Indian travellers we had first met at the Tajik-Kyrgyz border. It was great to catch up with the guys again. We sent them off the morning when they continued towards Magadan. Godspeed, guys!
A day later we also left Barnaul and turned towards the Altai mountains. It’s a popular Russian tourist destination. It should be popular for its drinking innovations, too.
We decided to camp the night and went looking for a nice spot. The trails we chose proved rather muddy and ended at a deserted village.
After taking a few side roads we got lucky and set our tent next to a river, tucked away from the road.
After the obligatory morning coffee we continued our way through the Altai mountains.
Riding through the curves was great and the views were stunning.
A lot of times when we took our eyes off the road it was to look up. Eagles and falcons were to be seen every five minutes, majestically gliding through the sky.
The Altai landscape changed from very lovely to harsh. We reached a vast plateau. In its middle lies Kosch Agatsch. The last town we stopped at before the Mongolia border.
After five days and roughly 800 kilometers we left Siberia again. But we will be back. We will re-enter Russian south of the Lake Baikal soon. If we make it through Mongolia’s sand.