Page 7 of golfkat Travel Blog Posts


Europe » Russia » Far East » Khabarovsk May 9th 2014

I forgot to send this when I departed Vladivostok. My new Swiss friend, Michael was here for two days. He thought the chocolate here was almost as good as his own Swiss chocolate. But imagine his concern when I told him that Ecuador produces most of the raw chocolate in the world! One of the first interesting cities upon leaving the Pacific Ocean and Vladivostok, is Khabarovsk. It sits a mere 25 kilometers from the Chinese border. They say it has a Mediterranean feel, with tree-lined streets, and even squares with fountains. But here, we cross the mighty Amur River. And they even serve sushi in honor of the Japanese business traveler. The city is said to have an international feel. This might be hard to ascertain form the train. Khabarovsk was founded in 1858 as ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Ulan-Ude May 9th 2014

Siberia has an area 4,784,034 square meters, or 1.5 times greater than Europe, 2.5 times larger than Russia in Europe, and more than 40 times larger than the UK of Britain and Ireland. It extends form the Ural Mountains on the west to the Sea of Japan. And from the Arctic Ocean on the north to China on the south. Siberia is especially rich in minerals, including gold, silver, lead, copper, iron, coal, and graphite. The climate of Siberia runs to extremes of both heat and cold. The winter is long and the air is dry except of the east coast. January is coldest, July is hottest. I am glad to be going in May, before mosquito season as well. The great majority of inhabitants are Russians, including free immigrants (both peasants and Cossacks), The Turkish ... read more

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar May 9th 2014

Time does not permit me to take the recommended side trip into Mongolia, and the famous Naadam Festival, held from July 11 to 13 each year. I will miss this great festival by about two months. It is the biggest and most important of the Mongolian festivals. Its roots go back thousands of years, and focuses on three manly games: wrestling, archery, and horse racing, three skills considered vital to survival in ancient times. Typically, the festival starts off with a big, festive parade, carnival, and opening ceremony in the stadium. Most events are free, except for the opening and closing ceremonies. Smaller Naadams take place around the country, and offer a better chance to get close or even participate. img=https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ0ZbVEGfCBXkyLwopZQZEL-o5QNQwS0-4hD3WPrB_78FXaIh73 img=https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTKEkZUO8acqZGQx0... read more

Europe » Russia » Far East » Yakutsk May 9th 2014

On his Trans Siberian Railway journey, famous author and traveler Paul Theroux wrote about the leg to Khabarovsk. "The countryside then was so changeless it might have been a picture pasted against the window." He says it put him to sleep. We shall see what happens to me, since this leg occurs near the start of my trip. It was near the end of his trip, over the famous Amur River. They were scurrying to catch flights or ferries. Not me, I am just settling in for the journey. I hope by now, I have met some eastern Russians. And I wonder who I will be sharing my roomette with? Better yet, what will I find in the way of food? Will it be boiled chicken and boiled potatoes? And how well will I sleep at ... read more

Europe » Russia » Far East » Khabarovsk May 9th 2014

This information comes from the Trans Siberian Railway Web Encyclopaedia. How many Railways do you know that have their own paedia? 1. The real distance, calculated from Moscow to Vladivostok in 9288.2 kilometers. 2. The coldest place, located between Mogocha (6906 km, the distances are from Moscow*), and Skovorodino (7306 km) is a rather chilly -62 degrees C. 3. The highest point (1040 km) is the Yablonovy Mountain pass (6110 km) located between Yablonovaya and Turgutui. 4. The lowest point occurs between Amursky Zaliv (9252 km) and Ugolnaya (9253 km) when the route nears the Pacific Ocean. 5. The steepest descent, between Adrianovskaya and Slyudyanka-2 (5305 km) is when the railroad drops 400 meters. 6. The longest bridge is the 2616 meter Amur Bridge (8512 km). img=https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRSfsLcWrrZTWe4oYSJQ2pfeHyCpo1UoAmXNoOG... read more

Europe » Russia » Far East » Komsomolsk-Na-Amure May 8th 2014

One of the first interesting cities upon leaving the Pacific Ocean and Vladivostok, is Khabarovsk. It sits a mere 25 kilometers from the Chinese border. They say it has a Mediterranean feel, with tree-lined streets, and even squares with fountains. But here, we cross the mighty Amur River. And they even serve sushi in honor of the Japanese business traveler. The city is said to have an international feel. This might be hard to ascertain form the train. Khabarovsk was founded in 1858 as a military outpost by Count Nikolai Muravyov (later Muravyov-Amursky), while he was taking the Amur region back from the (Fu) Manchus. I am not sure if he made them shave or just skinned them alive. The Trans Siberian Railway arrived from Vladivostok in 1897, though it did not reach Moscow until 1913. ... read more

Europe » Russia » Far East » Vladivostok May 8th 2014

(from a TSR Travel Brochure) By the Numbers The numbers alone are hard to grasp. Depending on where you begin and end, the Trans-Siberian is: About 6,000 mileslong 80 train stationsalong the way 160 hoursof pure journey time 7 (sometimes 8) time zones- that's one-third of the world 3 countries: Russia, Mongolia, China The Trans-Siberian took 12 years to build - not bad, all things considered. The most famous route - the classic Moscow-Vladivostok - has been running since 1916. Planning took 25 years. Construction officially began in 1891 when heir to the throne Nicholas II personally blessed the beginning of work on the rail line in Vladivostok. The Russian government didn... read more

Europe » Russia » Far East » Vladivostok May 8th 2014

The gauge is wider at 5 feet versus 4 feet, 8.5 inches the standard. The bogies are changed when entering and leaving Russian territory. Interesting, particularly in China, where this amazing task is done by girls. The wider gauge means the Russian engines and rolling stock are bigger, at 17 feet 2 inches, making traveling in soft class more spacious than on any other railway system. The carriages of the TSR were on display at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900. The "passengers" were served borscht, caviar, and sturgeon by an attendant dressed like a Tartar. But the trains in reality were slow, about 30 miles per hour to fit in with the freight trains that dominated the rail system. Today, in first and luxury class, the carriages are roomy with twenty passengers per carriage. The ... read more

Europe » Russia » Far East » Vladivostok May 7th 2014

Considered the end of most Trans Siberian journeys, Vladivostok is the beginning of mine. I arrived here from Japan, originally planned via a ferry on the Sea of Japan. Instead, due to time constraints, and the fact that three days and two nights on the Sea of Japan are not my idea of enjoyable travel, I flew here from Tokyo Haneda airport. The interesting part of this flight to Vladivostok was my layover in Seoul, Korea, birthplace of my adopted daughter, Sarah, in 1988. Vladivostok is the proverbial end of this momentous journey, it is yet the beginning of mine. The city sits on the Pacific Rim, a naval port that still holds strategic significance for the Puntinites. It is the home of the Russian Pacific Fleet, and the largest Russian port on the Pacific. During ... read more

Europe » Russia » Far East » Vladivostok May 6th 2014

As of yesterday, February 5, I have my Russian Visa for travel to Russia in May. It is a single entry visa, valid for up to 30 days. Russian visas cannot be obtained at the border. Travel insurance is also required for the duration of any trip here. But this visa requires something else: Invitation to Russia from a host person or organization. Yes, you must have this before they will issue a visa. Fortunately, the company from which I am getting my Trans Siberian Railway tickets is my sponsor. The company is called Real Russia, and is based in the U.K. But they may ask for more. The Consular Division of the Embassy also has the right to call the applicants for an interview and request, if needed: • a bank statement from the applicant; ... read more




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