Russia 2 Part III (Aldan river – Barnaul)

Dark green/purple: Route driven. Green: Area in blog post. Blue: Places of interest. Orange: Spent night

Time to continue this blog!


In the last post I ended up besides the semi-frozen Aldan river. And it was getting dark. So I decided to drive some kilometers back down the road towards Yakutsk again but quickly became tired and hungry. So I drove off the road into the forest and started making some dinner. The temperature was below -30 and it was rather painful to hold anything metal during the cooking. Also it takes quite some effort to light a gasoline flame and boiling water takes forever. But in about 30 minutes I managed to make some pasta for myself. I spent the rest of the evening watching a movie and drinking some beer, while the engine was running. I also left the engine on at night again. Except for the whirring of Brutus’s diesel engine, it was the quietest of nights.


On the way back towards Yakutsk I took some more time to stop at some places, and take a few pictures. All along the way there are small wooden villages with totems and a generally very rural feeling among the endless amounts of trees. There is almost no one moving around, even though winter has just started.

In Manday (on the east side of the Lena river near Yakutsk) I had lunch with Saibchan before heading off to the south again. I drove for a couple of hours until I found a small cafe on the side of the road. Time for a small dinner and a beer, and apparently some social time with locals and truckers. After that, find a spot, watch a movie, set up the bed and another night in a running car, even though the temperature had gone up to a more comfortable -25 or so.

Cute little UAZ van dragging the corpse of some animal on a sled

It took another 2 days driving to get close to the what-to-do-point (near Never) again. On that stretch I stopped at some more places to take some pictures. One time I almost ran out of gas because the gas station on the map had been closed for at least 10 years, and the next one was about 200 km down the road. Luckily one of my roof jerrycans was filled, or it would have been a cold night. I made it with 3 liters to spare. And again, there were at least 5 trucks that slipped off the road because of snow and ice.

Train ramming through the snow

Closed down gas station

Could I get some diesel? Njet.

Scary shit house near the ghost gas station

Close call for this guy

Near Never again. A bit tired I suppose

It’s becoming tiring. Driving, and driving, and more driving. Trees. Many trees and more trees after trees after all those trees. Online I found an estimate of the amount of trees on earth. 3.04 trillion apparently. And I have the feeling I’ve seen most of them. From here on it would be the most continuous Westwards part of the Eastward trip. Most of was Russia still in front of us.


The longest drive of the trip. This day I rammed 810 km in about 11 hours. Thank the internet lords for audio books. On this day the temperature went all the way up to -2! Friggin’ tropical compared to the last 10 days. Also, the landscape turned into snowless Mongolian-style grasslands again.

Out in the open again


Another 600 km today, through never ending grasslands with some trees. I drove pas Chita and found a nice off road path near Khilog. On this path I finally broke the front stabilizer bar. A small hole and a loud *clunck* made that obvious. It was a comfortable -18 night without the engine running. The next day I woke up next to a small frozen river, fixed breakfast and got driving again. The clunky sound was off course still there but on straight patches of motorway there was no sound. Still, an hour later I was tearing the bar from under the car just to be sure nothing would break even more. It’s possible to drive without a stabilizer bar, but it makes the ride slightly more wobbly in the corners. I didn’t expect to encounter many in the next 10.000 km. This day I arrived in Ulan Ude. The city with the biggest Lenin head in the world. I found a great hostel in the center of town with free fenced parking right next to it. Time for a well earned shower and a night out with some good food and beer.

Sometimes while trying to look for a place to camp, you’ll find loads of garbage besides the road

Just keep looking and you’ll find a brilliant spot

There goes the stabilizer bar

Just rip it out. Who needs stability

Viewpoint near Ulan Ude

I’m sorry to say that Ulan Ude isn’t much to look at. The huge Lenin head is interesting and walking along the river is fun, but the city is somewhat featureless otherwise. But it’s a relaxing place to spend a few days to charge up again. There are some nice bars and meeting locals isn’t hard.

Biggest Lenin head in the world. Good.

Traditional ice fishing

Ice barely thick enough


Back on the road. Before even starting this trip, I found an interesting peninsula in lake Baikal that I wanted to visit. It was an internal battle to take another detour because my mind really started to get into driving-back-mode. Still, I drove north towards Ust Barguzin and beyond. I had to pay about 2 Euro’s admission fee to enter. It was dark and the track towards the peninsula was horrid. There were spots near the coast made for summer guests with camp fires and benches. But since it was -15 again, I decided once again to stay inside and watch some series.

The next day I woke up in a thick fog that cleared up slightly after breakfast. I went on a small discovery tour on the peninsula. On the east side of the island there was too much snow to drive safely and towards the west, the path just stopped. But it was interesting to drive around in a summer holiday park with no one around, and everything closed or run down.

Wonderful beach near the peninsula in Baikal lake

Totems and cloth in the forest

20 minutes driving later, on the east side of the peninsula

First signs of lake Baikal freezing over

While driving back, I made the mistake to go onto the beach. Brutus got completely stuck in asand/snow mix near the water. And while the wind and snowfall picked up, I had to dig Brutus out. This took about an hour and I lost 80% of one of the traxx plates in the process.

This took more than an hour to get out of

That night I ended up near a river past Ulan Ude. Cold night at -25.


Today my window washer fluid went empty. In these road conditions it’s nearly impossible to drive without that stuff. So I tried to explain what I needed to a woman in a little shop near the road. She gave me a labelless can of stuff which I pored in the window washer fluid system. When I sprayed it on my window, my view nearly disappeared. Apparently the system was now filled with coolant. So I flushed it all out and tried to clear the tubes with water. Big mistake. The tubes instantly froze up and the whole system failed. The coming 3 days I had to periodically stop and put snow on the windows to get the grime and dust off.

Snorkel filter gets clogged all the time in snowy conditions

Using coolant as window washer fluid. Fucking brilliant.

2017-11-15 – 2017-11-18

Driving driving driving towards Barnaul to rest a little. Loneliness is getting to me a bit. I’m longing for home, or not-driving. A lot of progress has been made in the last week.

Waking up with this is nice

A pretty view near Krasnoyarsk

In Barnaul I visited Angelika again. We went to town to celebrate her birthday. It was a great social evening. There was even another Dutch guy there! Some much needed communication in Dutch was good for me. It was a great evening. Thanks again for your hospitality Angelika!

The only picture in Barnaul. I think it’s good to forget taking pictures. It means you have a good time

Next post: Barnaul – Moscow – Europe


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