Monday, 10 January 2011

Dear Tanya and Vladimir

thank you for the lovely couchsurfing review and voucher. Yes, we are in Novosibirsk, Siberia. We got here by train from Ushtobe via Semey-Barnaul after spending a week camping in rather chilly conditions. We decided that, actually, we are not really really prepared for the Mongolian wilderness in the depth of winter when, on New Years Eve the temperature outside our tent plummeted towards -30°C. We slept in all of our clothes (3 wool thermal layers, 1 down vest, 1 down jacket, phat pants over thermal pants, 2 pairs of expensive thermal socks) and still felt the cold attacking us inside our expedition -40°C sleeping bags. The day after, on Isla's birthday, we had to do a small pass to reach Талдыкорган (Taldıqorğan) and the wind was blowing quite strong. By the time we reached the top of the pass our noses started to freeze in front of our eyes (well, they do tend to be in front of our eyes all the time) and our fingers were getting rapidly bitten off by the frost. Luckily, in a dire moment of near panic for our slightly desperate situation a group of Russian hunters picked us up and carried us off the remaining few km to Taldıqorğan. It was a fearful and humbling experience. Our happy-go-lucky attitude got slapped back into the reality of severe cold weather.

Our finger tips are still not completely healed up but our noses were still there the last time we looked. We felt quite demoralized for a while, realizing that we either needed to throw a whole lot more money in getting better and better equipment (and still suffer through months of winter) or we had to stop cycling and camping altogether. Neither option really appealed.

So, somehow, we hatched a new-fangled plan which will not stop us from cycling and will not cut short our trip. Instead of (not) cycling towards Japan through winter and then trying to catch the Transiberian all the way from Vladivostok to Moscow and St. Petersburg, we will catch the Transib to Vladivostok tonight. There we'll jump on a ferry to South Korea and Japan. After spending a couple of milder winter months cycling around Japan and hopefully witnessing the beginning of the blossom season, we will slowly make our way back across China and spend the late spring/early summer on our bicycles in Mongolia. We should arrive back in the Russian Altai around mid summer (visa dependent). From there, after spending a little time looking around and experiencing the Siberian summer (whoopee) we will catch the Transib back towards home.

I (Pietro) feel slightly reticent in admitting this is a much better plan than trying to face a brutal 3-4 months of winter ill prepared. Sometime in the future, maybe with better knowledge and better equipment I might try to push my boundaries further on a forgotten mountain somewhere. But that is not for today.

So that's the new oiooio trx Coldcut remix. Of course things change at all times when you are on the road, but this is the general direction we are trying to move towards.

By the way, fancy reaching us in Altai this Summer? *** If you have some time and are going to visit parents, it would be great to meet up and maybe do some mountain trekking together!

Much love from us

Big hug to you

Isla & Pietro


Tanya and Vladimir Muravskiy wrote:
>Hey Dear!
>It shows that you reached Siberia already, did you take train or bus? Where are you now and how it's going on? Hope you're alright.
>Godspeed and good luck!
>V



*** Actually this invite/tease is also directed to you, [INSERT NAME]. How about a little vacation in a splendid bit of Siberia? Or cycling across Mongolia?

Go on, you know you want to!

4 comments:

Charlotte Spencer said...

amazing and inspiring as ever...perhaps i will indeed join you in the summer?! what a wonderful thing that would be :-) go well lovelies. thinking of you and sending love. x x x

Anonymous said...

it looks a much better plan to me. You managed to devise a sensible plan without giving up your goal. Well done! Baci dalla mamma

Kris said...

I'm relieved to hear of your very wise decision - after 3 weeks in the city at -10 I couldn't imagine living and riding in -40 (had I still been sweating in SE Asia my thoughts might be slightly different). As it happens I'm catching a boat to Japan on Sunday to spend some time there and in Korea (bike-less) so maybe our roads will be crossing in reality... I'll keep an eye on your whereabouts and let you know when I have a vague plan! : )

Enrico D'Ottavi said...

Hi dears,
this is Berny from far far away Italy putting my regular eye on your amazing adventures while eating an home-made "polpettone" during my lunch-break at office.
No words about your trip, just a big lot of love to both of you, especially to that crazy guy who my older brother is.
Ok, to be honest, also a little bit of envy, but only a very small milligram of it, luckily I have my italian "polpettone" which makes it easier.
Then, reading astonished about your frozen body-parts, I noticed your new plans and... hey guys! You won't be back before I get married! Didn't know I'll marry this year? Of course you do not know, you leaved before I asked my girl to marry me!
Ok, now you know, July 24th 2011 is the date, a pretty year-and-a-half before end of the world (Maya's calendar says), so if you have time and if you plan to come back for Asia for that date just cycle up to Zoagli on the genoese "riviera" and you will see...
A big thank you for doing what I always wanted but never imagined to do.
E.

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