Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The rest of Russia. As far as Mongolia

Hi, Everyone! Sorry! it's been a long time since my last update. I am
having time problems as it is so time-consuming uploading the photos.
I may have to just concentrate on the text. I encourage you to also
check out my Facebook page

A slow couple of days as I was a bit tired, 39 and 27 kilometres.
Today Sunday I met Andrei and Irina on the road. They are the couple
that stopped a few days ago to make me coffee. They didn't make me a
coffee today, they made tea! Just as I was going they gave me a large
bottle of milk, straight from their cow I was assured.

Saturday night I camped at a petrol station and this morning I woke up
to the first frost since Europe! What did I do? I went back asleep
until the sun came out! However, as I still have a bit of logistic
work to do I stopped at a restaurant for three hours to work on their
wifi. Tonight I am taking it easy in a hotel near Zima.
One man asked me what did I think of poteen, the Irish moonshine!
I said. " I don't drink alcohol" And he said " No I mean Putin, Vladimir Putin!
I believe he is good for Russia, Russians have always required strong
leaders. I have heard Russia described as a 'managed democracy.' I
don't believe democracy as we know it works best for every country in
the world. Most people I meet seem to be pro-Putin, they feel that the
west does not understand Russia and that all western media sprouts
propaganda. Obviously, there has always been mistrust on both sides;
perhaps the closest we have ever come was at the end of the Cold War
when Boris Yeltsin was reaching out, of course,  President Regan's
response was a gloating ' we won the Cold War.'
Many readers will be aware that in last week's parliamentary elections
Vladimir Putin cruised to victory and the party he founded United
Russia gained three-quarters of the seats in parliament. This margin
gives his party the power to change any law the want, or even the
constitution itself. However, after crushing his opponents who didn't
get a look in, Putin calls it a vote for stability.  must say that
this election took me by surprise, I only saw about three or four
election posters.  As I said Russians only want strong leaders, even
some of the bad ones are heroes in many people's eyes. I have heard
that in some cities that statues are being built to commemorate the
notorious ones, like Ivan the Terrible and Stalin. Total distance
walked for 188 road days is 7,692 kilometres.

Total world walk distance: 7,848 kilometres in 191 road days. 730kms
from Mongolia 😀

I continued walking along route P255- the Siberian highway. The days
continue to be warm. However, an hour or so before sunset it gets
chilly. At that stage, I just put on another couple of layers and keep
walking at a nice steady pace of about five kilometres per hour/ three
Miles(ish). I walk mostly in the gravel shoulder which varies from two
to three metres wide, as it has been all the way across Russia. train
transportation is important to Russia. At least one passes nearby
every ten minutes. They are a mixture of passenger and cargo. The
scenery continues to be spectacular in places; much of it I can't get
on my iPhone as a constantly fading battery continues to be a problem.
It takes me a lot of time to transfer from my regular camera to my
laptop, but I will do so as soon as I get time.
I passed a cowboy rounding up his cows and stopped to talk to many
people. Tuesday I clicked out at 45 kilometres and Wednesday with the
daily record of 64kilometres firmly in my sight, I pulled the trigger
at 3:30 am having marched 58. As often as possible I camp at truck
stops, cafes, and petrol stations.
Many thanks to Barry Drennan for sponsoring my next hotel night,
dinner and breakfast! Barry pressed the sponsor a day link on one of
my websites www.myworldwalk.com www.theworldjog.com/blog

 I am south of Irkutsk now as I bypassed it last night. On the way, a
nice construction worker gave me tea! That moment I had been swearing
at the cafe owner who double
Charged me for my meal and then wanted a lot more to fill up my
thermos. I refused it as a matter of principle. Most
places fill it for free or just charge a small amount for the water.
I also stopped at a posh restaurant and got great value for my dinner.
I kept walking and walking, in the drizzle but I stayed dry. I walked
until 7 am and equaled my world walk record. I would have broken it
but there was a massive hill up ahead of me so I just lay behind a
hedge in my bivy (which I had placed on my tarp) for a couple of
However, I did not sleep and started walking at 11 am after repairing
a puncture. For the first eight kilometres, I battled against the
fiercest hills since the Urals.
I just need 25 more kilometres to record my 8,000th kilometre.
Tomorrow I will reach Baikal lake and spend a few days walking
alongside it. I expect big things from it as just about everyone I
meet is raving about it.


Continuing on from the photos I took on Sunday... A car pulled up in
front of me and the driver got out and said...
" Tony it's Alex! " He doesn't speak English, so I never got to the
bottom of who he was. However, without asking I climbed into his
vehicle and poured a cup of tea from my thermos and as always I am on
the look out for places to charge my phone, so he plugged it into the
cigarette lighter outlet. Before I left Alex and his wife who are
beekeepers gave me some honey for the road. On I walked towards a
mountain as the snow got heavier. Pretty soon visibility was down to
about 100 metres. Drivers were driving slowly, without exception, so
it was obviously dangerous for Russians to do that. There were several
long drag hills where many vehicles have problems climbing as the road
was also slick. Some crashed, others were broken down while more where
neon pushed. To me, it seemed as though the snow storm had caught
people by surprise as I didn't see any snow chains and wondered about
snow tyres. To me, the scene was more akin to the silly panic we have
on Irish roads when we get a dumping in Dublin, about once every two
or three years. I would have thought Siberians would be taking this in
their stride.
For me, it was easier to push uphill as the downward descent was so
steep. My arms were aching from trying to control Karma. I tried to
stay out of the way of people trying to get their cars going, for many
were pushing on their accelerator while their wheels spun around. I
wouldn't want to be in front of them if they freed their car.
Eventually, I made it downhill and onto a motorway and half an hour
later to a restaurant for a hard-earned dinner. It was a slow day, but
I walked another ten kilometres before finishing my day camped at a
petrol station 34km.
Then a late start to my day for I spent the morning doing maintenance
to Karma. Later that day I eventually made it to the spectacular Lake
Baykal, with all of its pristine vistas, the deepest fresh water lake
in Asia and a major attraction. Despite my late start, I churned out
41kms. I wanted to finish at a cafe at 47 but just as I arrived at the
entrance to a petrol station two lads pulled up to hassle me, the
driver was drinking a bottle of vodka, so sad it's true, Russia and
especially Siberia has a major alcohol problem. I can never understand
why Ireland has such a bad reputation, for while many of us do abuse
it. By and large, we are responsible and drink driving is virtually
non-existent; especially amongst the young. I camped at the petrol
station which was nicely placed.
This morning the security guard woke me at eight am, I would have
given a lot to sleep another two hours but no, it was time to pack up.
Just as I started walking it started snowing lightly, I stopped for a
laugh, photo and the offer of tea from friendly construction workers.
A couple of kilometres on up the road I stopped at what I thought was
a cafe but it was a grocery store; no worries for the lady gave me hot
water for the coffee sachets I bought.


Current location 407kms from Mongolia. Yesterday I was going to stop
and make tea at a roadside table which seemed to be abandoned outside
a house. A dog barked and Vera and Alex invited me inside their humble
house for my tea. It was a one room house cased with books, to me a
house without books is like a house without windows. They watched a
Russian tv documentary about Edward Snowdon, the American security
whistleblower living in Moscow;  I would have loved to understand
> Later I realized they sell fish which they catch for a living; they sell from the table.

In the past, the Russian government has given away free hectares of
land under a program aimed to develop the country's Far East
Arkharinsky district, which borders China. Under the scheme,
participants have to give a five-year residency commitment.
The governor of Yakutia, another region included in the program,
announced that in addition to the hectare of land offered by the
state, his region will provide another 2.5 hectares to anyone
interested. Yakutia is known for its severe climate and the coldest
temperatures recorded in the Northern Hemisphere at −71.2 °C (−96.2
°F) in 1926.
Other initiatives to help the poor have been to give away free sheep.
In an area where I will be in a few days time, cows were handed out to
some needy people.
I am mesmerized at the vastness of this huge country as I walk through
it. It's hard to believe that the population is only about 150
million. When you consider that Moscow has 20 million, followed by St
Petersburg with eight and then there are a whole host of other cities
with populations of between one and two million. Not to mention all of
the small villages and towns along this road, all be it if they are
spread out and many I never got to see. I am walking in a state of
disbelief for I never expected to see so many communities. However, I
understand that the eastern part of the country is pretty bare, there
are whole regions the size of Texas or Alaska and one could travel a
long time and never see anyone else.


Wednesday I walked 41kms and camped at a cafe. It had been a big
mental push to get myself going. In fact, I was tempted to take
another rest day. So obviously I was delighted with my day at my
roadside office.
Having stocked up with extra warm weather clothing, Including a
balaclava and crampons I was greeted on the road with an Indian
summer.  instead, it was time for my sun hat, sunglasses and of course
my sunblock. Please remember my world walk message that. Life is
precious and early cancer screening saves lives.
On I walked before I stopped to make a cup of tea under a bus shelter.
Four boys aged about nine or ten years of age came over for a bit of
banter. I was shocked when I smelled cigarette smoke from one of them.
Russia has a serious tobacco addiction problem. When I made my
feelings clear to this young lad using hand signals, he thought I was
asking for a cigarette and offered me one!
It seems there is a strange custom here in Buryita state that people
throw their small coins out of their cars at the roadside! I think
this is a great custom as it gives any homeless person some exercise
collecting for their next meal. Eugene, do you have an explanation,

I am told that the people in this part of Russia are similar to
Mongolians, and much of the culture is similar. The principal religion
is Buddhism, though it seems a relaxed for of it.
As I write this I am nine kilometres into my day, about 183 km from
Mongolia. While checking my map this morning I discovered that there
is actually an Irish pub in a small Mongolian town near the border!
That I have to visit!


I am one kilometre from Mongolia! Having phone charging problems, it
keeps crashing! I plan to cross on Monday :)
It's been a tough walk from Ulan-Ude as it's very mountainous. I
notice the extra 10 kilos of winter gear that I am pushing! I will
also need to carry a lot of water in Mongolia. From here to Ulaan
Baator, the capital it's semi-remote, a bit like what I have done in
Russia in the desolate spots. South of UB in the Gobi Desert is where
the fun really begins. There is one section of 260km and I can't see
much on the map!
My Mongolian route is exactly 1,000 kilometres to the Chinese border.
Well, after an eight km warm up it is. From where I sit tonight it's
1,008 km to China. Current temperature here is -8C, and I am
comfortable in it!