A Travellerspoint blog

Russia

Tynda and the BAM

Sometimes the blogs are right!

sunny 27 °C
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Tynda is a significant town in Siberia as the centre for the BAM railway - the northern alternative to the TransSiberian. From the internet:

The BAM was built so that a link would remain between Moscow and the Pacific Coast if the Trans-Siberian Railway should fall into Chinese hands. Between the 1930s and 1950s 150,000 concentration camp victims died during its construction. After Stalin’s death it was abandoned unfinished for twenty years until in the 1970s Brezhev recommenced work on it, hailing it as “the construction project of the century” and drawing workers from all over the USSR. People came and lived in tents in the virgin wilderness the railway was crawling its way across until cabins were brought and eventually small towns built around the railroad to accommodate its workers.

In 1991 the railway was completed just as the Soviet Union collapsed. Funding for the area’s mines, towns and the railway itself became scarce. Many of the former BAM workers left the area, leaving many of the towns that had been built specifically for them completely deserted, as they remain today. It has only a single set of rails, so only one train can run on it at a time. Due to how little the BAM is used today, the 150,000 people who died building it, the large number of ghost towns along its length and the US$14 billion expended on its construction, it is generally regarded as one of the biggest wastes of time, money and lives ever.

All the blogs suggested Tynda was the areshole of Russia - but I thought we should give it the benifit of the doubt. So we booked 2 nights at the Safari Hotel just accross the river from the massive Tynda railway station (yes - African safari theme hotel in centre of Siberia!).

The hotel is pretty good, huge rooms, fridge, comfy beds ($60 per night). But to be honest - it is the only hotel in town so no competition. We had a nice breakfast of porrige and pancakes ($4 for two).

We thought we could occupy a day visiting the BAM museum but it was closed. We thought we would enjoy walking around a rural town for a few hours, but it was boring and just full of ugly Soviet style concrete apartments, left over from the BAM workers. We thought we would get a good meal in one of the few restaurants (actually an Armenian restraunt), but it was awful.

So - in summary - the blogs are right. Dont get stuck in Tynda for any reason!

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One highlight was that we tried the famous Kvass. We have seen it everywhere for sale, so thought we'd give it a go. Not too bad!

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A disappointing star.png 1 star day

Posted by MikeinCairns 05:01 Archived in Russia Comments (1)

Train 325 Siberia

28 hours Khabarovsk to Tynda (crossing one time zone)

overcast 27 °C
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In Russia the trains are numbered. Single digit trains such as 007, the train we caught from Vladiivostok are the most modern. Two digit trains a bit older and down to the oldest three digit train. Today we spent 28 hours Khabarovsk to Tynda (crossing one time zone) on train 325.

Even though it was old it was immaculately clean and functional. While we were on the train the Provodnik/Provodnitsa (attendants) came through and mopped our compartment, and then another came and cleaned the windows, handles, etc. The toilet was basic stainless steel with a hole and flush but always really clean. As it was not a bio toilet, it was locked at the larger stations. A sign on the toilet indicated closure times.

There was no power in this train (we brought our own battery pack to keep the tablets running). As always the samovar was steaming hot and kept us going with hot water for tea, coffe, soup, instant noodles.

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We brought quite a bit of food on board and whipped up some nice meals on the train. Ham on bread, smoked salmon on bread, beer and chocolate!

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Breakfast:

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Face of Russian chocolate:

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The train stopped frequently, mostly for just 1-2 minutes (a sign in the carriage listed all the stops). So farwe noticed the trains are prompt to the minute. There were a few stops of 15 min or more when everyone hopped off for a stretch. Local people often had a small market place or walked up and down the station with their produce.

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Not really anything much to see in the way of scenery. 28 hours of tundra - flat, wet swamps, with occasional pine forest. No animals or farms. Every few hours a small village or town.

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We kept ourselves amused with videos (Mike) and Sudoku (Margaret)

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Arrived at 11pm and walked 20 minutes to our accomodation.

A fun journey and star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png 4 star day

Posted by MikeinCairns 01:13 Archived in Russia Comments (1)

Architecture of Khabarovsk

Churches and buildings

overcast 24 °C

A late start on account of us making the most of being in a luxury hotel. Brunch at a fantastic cafe (goumet sandwich, cakeand cheese cake $10).

Last night discovered the main street of Khabarovsk (Murav'eva-Amurskogo St) with its beautiful 19th and 20th century awrchitecture. Went back for photos today. And Khabarovsk has an entire street of beautiful musuems (Shevchenko St) - National museum, Art museum, State Sports complex and Military Museum all housed in magnificent buildings.

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For anyone that cares - within just a few blocks you can see Neo Classical, Art Deco, Eclectic, Modernist, Soviet brutslist, Classical pre-revolution Russian, and others I am sure. Absolutely beautiful.

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Another feature of the Russian city is the cathedral. Khabarosvk has two - surrounded by impressive gardens.

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Not eactly sure what this is but it sounds like we need it in Australia.

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Off to the station in the evening for our next train journey

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A beautiful star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png 5 star day

Posted by MikeinCairns 08:53 Archived in Russia Comments (1)

Dó-bra-ye ú-tra Khabarovsk

"Good morning" Khabarovsk

sunny 26 °C
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Don't believe everything you read on travel blogs. Many blogs describe this town as boring. And TripAdvisor does not highly recommend, but we loved it!

We arrived at around 10am to the beautiful railway station (chandaliers hanging inside)

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Checked in to our little bit of luxury the Sopka Hotel ($100) right on the mighty Amur River.

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Lunch was caviar (what else?)

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Then out and about to enjoy this beautiful town

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Did some grocery shopping in preparation for some long upcoming train journeys. Bought ham, cheese, smoked salmon, and some other goodies for the train. Steaming hot water availble on the train, so we stocked up on tea, coffee, pot noodles and cupa soup. Thank goodness for Google translate (they are all Yogurt apparently!)

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Finished the day returning to the Khabarovsk brach of Satsivi ($20 for two). Can't go wrong with Georgian food!

Discovered the main street of Khabarovsk which is a very impressive stretch of beautiful historic buildings. We will return for a closer look tomorrow.

A luxurious star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png 5 star day

Posted by MikeinCairns 08:27 Archived in Russia Comments (1)

Da-svi-danya Vladivostok and train 007

"Farewell" Vladivostok

sunny 28 °C

Another warm day in Vladivostok, but threating storms. First stop the Automobile Museum 50 cents bus trip and $4 entry fee.

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Then 2 buses ($1) out to the lighthouse.

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Food from the Caucuses is famous in Russia and most cities will have a Georgian or Armenian restaurant. We ate at the magnificent Georgian Restaurant, Satsivi ($20 for two).

We then braved a terrential thunderstorm just as we went to the train station. First night on the TranSiberian!

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Train 007 (being a single digit train) was very modern. We departed at 11pm for a 12 hour journey to Khabarovsk (a short trip by Russian standards) , so didn't have time to enjoy any of the facilities. It was air-con, with power sockets and reading lights. After about 15 minutes the attendant (Provodnitsa) came through with our bedding and towels. We didn't get a chance to use the samovar (hot water system).

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A star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png 4 star day

Posted by MikeinCairns 07:58 Archived in Russia Comments (1)

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