On the surface, a nomadic way of life may seem lonely, directionless and lawless. For us it means opportunity, new horizons, new people, and new adventures.
How lucky we were to share a few weeks in the Kyrgyzstan mountains in Central Asia with such wonderful and friendly people! To them there is no such thing as a stranger but rather a chance meeting with a fellow traveller.
A truly amazing experience.
Blog Video 88 from SAMt & Bike Without Borders on Vimeo.
Being the largest landlocked country in the world and the ninth largest country in terms of land mass, it takes time to travel from one end of this country to the other. The remoteness, the vast amount of nothing between cities and even villages is quite staggering but that’s exactly what makes this country a perfect place to find adventure!
If you love open wide spaces you’ll love Kazakhstan!
Blog Video 87 from SAMt & Bike Without Borders on Vimeo.
We left Samara (a southern Russian city) early expecting to arrive at the Kazakhstan border by midday. Upon reaching what we thought to be the last small village before the border, the road suddenly stopped. Whilst pondering what to do, we were suddenly surrounded by Russian solders who demanded to see our documentation and began firing questions one after the other which we of course, couldn’t understand. After they resigned to the fact that they weren’t going to get any sense out of us, they took our passports and asked (through sign language of course) us to follow them to the army barracks.
Its turns out that this border crossing has been closed for a number of years. After being satisfied that we had not entered Russia illegally (which was their initial belief), they apologised for the inconvenience, offered us food and fuel and then escorted us 150km to the closest functioning border crossing. Fortunately a young Capitan at the Barracks spoke good english and was able to clarify the situation. What started out to be a rather tense situation, turned into a afternoon filled with laughter and tales!
Upon arriving to the border (looked like Bolivia with all the chaos) we were taken to the front of the line, which was about 2 kilometres long. Out of nowhere a Kazakhstan couple offered to help us with the border crossing process. Once legally inside Kazakhstan, Marat and Marina (the couple) kindly invited us to their home for lunch the following day. We of course accepted. Marina cooked us a traditional Kazan dish and we then spent the remainder of the afternoon with many interesting conversations, and of course lots of laughs.
Thank you so much Marat and Marina for welcoming us to your country and to the Russian soldiers who finally got us there.
Blog Video 86 from SAMt & Bike Without Borders on Vimeo.
LENIGRAD (SAINT PETERSBURG)
Starved by Hitler, Terrorized by Stalin and Immortalized by Shostakovich
The German siege ( also knowns as the blockade) of Leningrad lasted 900 days from September, 1941 to January, 1944. During that time 800,000 people, nearly a third of the population at the siege’s beginning, starved to death.
22 September 1941 : Hitler directs that “Leningrad must be erased from the face of the Earth”.
8 November 1941: Hitler states in a speech at Munich: “Leningrad must die of starvation.”
Hitler was so convinced Leningrad would fall quickly that invitations to a banquet in the Astoria Hotel (in Leningrad), were printed in advance but……. Hitler never set foot in Leningrad.
For the heroic resistance of the city and tenacity of the survivors of the siege, Leningrad became the first to receive the Hero City title, as awarded in 1945.
We have been in Russia for over a week and one thing we have already noticed is their resiliense . They accept that their lives are difficult and pride themselves on being able to flourish in conditions that others could not. They definitely take great pride in their cultural heritage and expect the rest of the world to admire it.
We have a long way to go in this land and we are looking forward to every minute of it!
Blog Video 85 from SAMt & Bike Without Borders on Vimeo.