Tag Archives: russia

Off we go – to see a manor house in the snow.

Hi folks!

Here’s an interesting topic: old country manors of nobles and merchants past. There happen to be a great many of them around Russia. For example, just in the Moscow Region, or Óblast, which surrounds the capital, there are several hundred of them. Studying and then publishing details of the histories of these places is a most curiously interesting pastime. And there are folks who devote much of their lives to such a pursuit: they check out the country piles themselves and run excursions for curious tourists. One such keen studier of mansions is Vadim Razumov, who, in 15 years studying them as a hobby, has visited a full several thousand (!) of them all around the country. For all about his findings, including some mind-blowing historical tales, check out his fascinating blog.

Last weekend, a group of friends and I were taken on a short ethnographical expedition led by him to one of the prerevolutionary Moscow Oblast mansions. It’s situated some 80km from Moscow in the direction of Minsk (i.e., westward), and it goes by the name of Usadba Lyubvino (Lyubvino country estate) ->

Alas, many of the prerevolutionary mansions of Russia long ago fell into states of disrepair, this one included, as you can see. Doesn’t make them or their stories any less interesting!…

Read on…

Altai-2020 – greatest photographic hits.

First, the bad news: Altai-2020 is over!

Now for the good news: There’s a Very Big Altai Video in the pipeline! And it promises to be full of super-duper material, and also to be professionally produced and edited. In a word or four – it’s gonna be awesome!

In the meantime, today in this post – a few photographic ‘greatest hits’ my fellow expeditioners have sent me for your viewing pleasure: for those who’ve not been to Altai – as enticers, teasers, to get yourselves there; and for those who’ve been – as nostalgizers. Because – remember – it’s good to have been somewhere and enjoyed it, but better to have been somewhere and enjoyed it and then… to revisit it through photos as it might make you realize you should go back again :0)!

Pheeeew. What a trip! Simply remarkably marvelously fantastic. I think a wait of three or four years, and we’ll be heading back – if the magical Altai energy doesn’t pull us back before ). Perhaps we’ll do the trekking part a bit differently, but as for the Katun bit: that can stay exactly the same!

Read on…

Flickr photostream

  • Mosfilm studios
  • Mosfilm studios
  • Mosfilm studios
  • Mosfilm studios

Instagram photostream

Anomalous Altai, and a hotel to decompress-ify.

Here we are with another installment from our expedition across Altai’s… extraordinary countryside. Wait! Extraordinary – that’s accurate, but… it’s a bit banal, no? Thing is, in describing Altai’s natural beauty, I seem to be forever repeating the handful of adjectives I normally use! So, before I started this post, I thought I’d find at least one new epithet (not the disparaging kind) that describes accurately (maybe I’ll try add one more new one with each post?) the Altai Mountains. So I did. And I came up with… anomalous! Well, why not? The effect of Altai’s mountainous scenery has had a deeply anomalous effect on me – more so than any other mountainous-volcanic place in the world. And then there’s the fact that the mountains and rivers are anomalous; there’s also the anomalous natural energy here that permeates everything – the air, the water, the mountains, your soul (!) – unlike anywhere else on the planet! But I digress. Meanwhile on the River Katun…

Where we were along the Katun on this day, more than 60 smaller rivers and streams – tributaries – had flown into it. As a result – it had become powerful, wide, and high:

A quick look at the map tells me that here the width of the Katun is 150 meters. While in 20+km all that water will be forced to squeeze through a narrow rocky canyon of a width of just 30 meters. So it doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that the rapids in that canyon are going to be pretty darn fast and anomalous! And those same rapids have an anomalously unique name too: Teldekpen!

Here they come! ->

Read on…

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Many a splash – on Kadrin and Shabash.

After our night on the beach, we woke to yet another gloriously warm and sunny day – hooray! If only the river were a bit warmer too; it felt like it was around 10-12 degrees centigrade, no more. Quick dips were doable but it was a bit too cold for swimming.

We had an interesting day ahead of us. Just to the left of that mountain down there the Kadrin Rapids begin, which was to be our first bit of action of the day…

Read on…

The Altai river-traveler museum – ver. 2020.

Continuing our Altai-2020 expedition, one afternoon we moored our rafts to visit the makeshift river-traveler museum, which organically sprang up and grew over the years in a field by the junction of the Katun and Argut rivers. It’s a three-legged contraption-construction that has all manner of odd and sod hung upon it, placed there by passing river tourists:

Every year, new exhibits are added to the museum. Various art movements and styles are featured, but there’s a distinct preference for the post-industrialist avant-garde and general modern kunst!

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Rushing down the Akkem Rush.

At Tyungur, we were up early > breakfast > tents down > to the riverbank > into the Katun on rafts > off we pop > 25km of calm rafting until we reach today’s main attraction: several sets of rapids called the Akkemsky Proriv (in Russian), which translates as the Akkem Rush (aka the Akkem Fissure, Akkem Breach, Akkem Rupture, etc., but Rush is arguably closest to the original meaning in Russian, i.e., referring to the water itself, not the location it’s set in. Just to complicate things further, it’s also known as the Akkem Pipe – or Akkem Tube!!).

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A sign of a bright Altai future.

Briefly looking back over recent blogposts, I see you’ve had plenty on Katun already, including lots and lots of photos thereof. All the same – it’s still… too little! Accordingly, here’s some more!…

We’d already rafted some 200km since we started out on the river (where the Upper Kuragan joins it). Not a great deal given that its full length is 688km – from the foot of Mount Belukha to the mighty Siberian River Ob near the city of Biysk. And most of those first 200 kilometers were calm, steady, conducive to quiet meditation, and with non-stop extraordinarily beautiful Altai scenery….

Quick digression into oddness: one thing (out of many!) I find extraordinary about the Katun is how bendy, winding, twisting it is. But get this: I couldn’t find a picture/map/atlas on the net that shows clearly the full length of Katun, marked out so it’s clear to see it against the backdrop of Siberia and northern Kazakhstan! EH? For example, both Google Maps and Yandex Maps of course point out ‘Katun River’, but only one point of it – not it’s whole length highlighted! Accordingly, you can’t get a good idea of just how bendy, twisty, winding it is. This is doing curious folks a real disfavor! Because how the Katun winds far and wide though valleys amid the Altai Mountains – at one point almost doubling back on itself but in a large ~circle – is simply extraordinary! So, internet – get a grip! Or, if any of you, dear readers, might be able to find – or create – a map with it marked on, I’d be much obliged!

…Back to Katun – the one we rafted on, not the elusive one I can’t find the full length of on a map!…

Read on…

This river was made for rafting, and that’s just what we did.

After your aperitif, are you ready for your main dish of slow-cooked Katun, with a side dish of oh-my-gorgeous Altai scenery? Ok, then we’ll begin…

As I’ve written in this Altai-2020 series already, getting to the top of the Katun sure ain’t easy, and near the top there aren’t that many river obstacles getting in your way (too easy!); however, the early stretches are perhaps the most magnificently meditative! The odd paddle, the occasional spot of steering, a few splashes here and there, but apart from that – magical Altai vistas and Ommmmmmmmm ).

Read on…