Tag Archives: mym expedition

Magadan–Moscow road trip: 12,000km… but how many speeding tickets?!

As you’ll recall, at the start of this year a group of colleagues and pals and I completed a road trip practically across the full length of Russia – from as far east as you can get in a car (Magadan) all the way to Moscow (just a few hundred kilometers more and you’d hit Belarus), along the way stopping off at various worthy places of interest.

The journey took us a whole month (we could have done it quicker, but we took various detours and also dropped in on a few partners), during which we covered some 12,000 kilometers. A mind-blowing road trip it was too. After arriving in Moscow and finally coming to my senses after a month of senses-and-impressions-overload, I put fingers to keyboard to write a series of posts on the experience. Those posts tell how the trip turned out: somewhat unexpectedly – absolutely awesome. No – perfect! So white, so cold, so permafrost, so vast, so unusual, so endless… so surprisingly well-kempt (the roads, that is).

Read on…

Irkutsk to Taishet: 700km – in the net.

After Irkutsk, our next main stop was the large Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. But since it’s a long way – 1100km – we broke the journey up, staying overnight in the town of Taishet, whose main claim to fame is that the Baikal-Amur Mainline (railroad) (BAM) starts out there.

In Irkutsk we were up early, and off – in a pea-souper reminiscent of the one in Yakutsk. No doubt the steam emitted by the cooling towers of the Irkutsk power plant had something to do with it. Ouch: that must mean it’s like this all the time in winter. Still, at least the road was a good one: traditionally fresh (recently repaired/re-laid), smooth, and with two lanes going each way. Ouch: but those four lanes only lasted around 30km, and after that it was down to just two lanes – for the next thousand kilometers! More ouch: the fog remained. More ouch: we were stuck in the slow-moving traffic practically the whole day – zero chances of safe overtaking. OUCH OVERDOSE.

Mercifully, toward the end of the day’s driving, the fog did abate and rays of sunshine started to appear; accordingly, up went our mood.

// Btw: Below and in future posts, the photos you see are a mix of mine, DZ’s, and travel-blogger Sergey Anashkevich‘s.

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Lake Baikal: halfway to Moscow from Magadan.

Onward we drove. And drove, and drove… on our Magadan–Moscow road trip. Today’s stretch – further along the Baikal Highway, heading for Irkutsk (not Yakutsk, though I’m sure they get mixed up a lot:).

The road is smooth and mostly straight (like most highways in this part of the world), the views all around – outstanding, and the drifting snow on the road – spookily stunning:

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700km Chita to Ulan-Ude on the Baikal Highway.

After yesterday’s 900km to Chita, we were up early for another 700 to Ulan Ude, with a brief stop at Ivolginsky Datsan along the Baikal Highway:

But before setting off we needed to make a few changes: First – to the cars we were driving. As per the plan, we said goodbye to the hardy Renaults from Avtorazum, and hello to some Mercedes. Second – our group of road-trippers were joined by some extra K-folks from our HQ, since from here on in the road trip became somewhat more businessy, for we’d be dropping in on some of our cherished clients and partners.

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BAM – been there, touched it, need the t-shirt.

Next up for us in our car trip across Russia – the Amur Oblast town of Tynda, informally referred to as the ‘Capital of BAM’, BAM being the Baikal-Amur Mainline – a second pan-Russia railroad in addition to the famed Trans-Siberian Railway (running parallel to it, approximately 700km north of it).

A mere -31˚C. Soon we’ll be in shorts and t-shirts ).

Tynda may not be well-known outside Russia, but inside – especially for my generation, who grew up in the 1970s – it sure is. I was too young to join up for service with a Komsomol Student Construction Brigade in building it, but that didn’t stop me hearing about the impressive engineering feats – Brezhnev called it the ‘construction project of the century’ – involved in its construction for years on the radio and TV. And I must say, I never thought I’d ever visit the place. But here I was! ->

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Back on our way – along the most impressive Lena Highway. 

Having driven the full length of the Kolyma Highway from Magadan to Yakutsk (via the Pole of Cold / Oymyakon), and walked around Yakutsk for a day, it was time to moving along – further on our pan-Russia road trip…

Ahead of us lay 1200 kilometers of the Lena Highway heading south, until it meets the Amur Highway (which skirts southern Russia near the border with China and Mongolia), passing through the towns of Neryungri and Tynda on our way.

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You know how to dress to survive, but how do you drive and survive?!

Yesterday I told you how, since returning from our Magadan–Moscow road trip, I’ve been asked quite a few times how we dressed before venturing out into -50°C on the first leg of the trip – along the Kolyma Highway. Today, I’ll be telling you about something else I’ve been asked a lot about: how we managed driving in -50°C. Thus, let me tell you about the cars we drove in…

The cars we drove along the Kolyma Highway – from Magadan to Yakutsk (and also then on to Chita) – were Renaults: two Arkanas, two Capturs, and one Duster. And they were completely standard production models (slightly adapted, see below) and had all come off a Russian assembly line – in Moscow:

So, why Renaults?

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How to survive the cruel cold of Yakutia.

I like adventures – even when the comfort level thereon sometimes plummets further south than the mercury does in Yakutia! But I also really appreciate downtime, and one such portion of downtime I had recently while sat at home on a warm sofa, sorting photos of – and already nostalgizing about – the ultra-awesome first leg of our Magadan–Moscow road trip on the Kolyma Highway. As I was doing the sorting, I was reminded of how I’ve been asked rather often about how we – mere Moscow ‘office plankton’ – managed to survive in such extraordinarily cold climatic conditions every day. We managed to survive by dressing properly – appropriately for the extreme cold. But what actually is ‘dressing properly’ for Yakutia’s -50˚C temperatures? It’s hardly going to be ‘make sure your coat’s a warm one and don’t forget your hat and gloves’, now is it? All-righty, then let me tell you – directly from the Yakutian horse’s mouth. But first – let me show you:

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