Pig's Ear Park and Other Adventures

Month: August 2019

Last stop

A two hour flight from Yakutz to Khabarovsk, drop off the K. It is somewhere above Vladivostock  and a different province to Yakutia where we spent most of our time in Siberia. Also noticeable was it got dark at night, became accustomed to going to sleep while it was light and waking up to the same. 

Must comment on the Russian method of boarding planes, happened everytime. Planes are all lined up neatly a considerable distance from the terminal, you pile onto a bus then mill around the bottom of the stairs whilst a guard allows a certain number up the stairs, no crowding on the stairway here. Landing is also controlled, passengers stay meekly in their seats and only get up when directed unlike us who leap up as soon as the wheels touch the ground- well almost. Food, euphemistically called a snack is usually a hulking great dry sandwich, I ate the filling. equally dry chicken.

Nice hotel, lots of vodka drunk at the farewell dinner. Next morning out early for a rushed look at Khabarovsk, a very neat and tidy city perched on the River Amur. Been around since the 16C . Variously in Chinese and Russian hands, been Russian now for a couple of hundred years.

Three large squares all with a Russian Orthodox Church, all rebuilt in the last twenty years. Lots of flower gardens and trees. The climate is not quite as extreme as yakutia, -40degrees occurs but is not  a common temperature. There are some nasty nasty apartment blocks but nowhere near as many or as common as in Yakutz. Also no old wooden buildings, none really , maybe all been destroyed. In Irkutz there was a row of crosses, asked and found it they were for the wooden houses that had been destroyed- clever. 

Lots of redbrick buildings, quite Edwardian in style. Someone asked our guide what she thought of Stalin, great man was her response, our jaws dropped, Gorbachev- sold us out her reply, Yeltsin, a drunk, Putin- well he got two thumbs up! Surprising, gave us something to think about. However when you reflect on Russian history, the revered ones, Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, both did their share of murder and mayhem.

Nice place to end our tour, would have been better to spend two nights here. In the inevitable bus to the plane for Narita an American asked one of our group what we thought of Khaborovsk, great was the reply, he was surprised, Di said you should have been to some of the places  we have been…

Narita a nightmare, two hours to get off the plane and to the terminal we were leaving from. Trip home, fine but the yellowfin dinner I had is still causing havoc three  days later.

Auckland airport seemed so quiet and polite.

Glad I went, glad I am home.

view of the Amur River

sideways church

red brick building

ww2 memorial to 400,000 people from this province




Sitting on a seat on the wharf at Yakutz waiting for a bus to take us to the hotel. Was supposed to be here at 9 am but is now expected at 9.30 – or thereabouts!!! Only 11 c  so not really hanging around weather!!!At least the poxy sandflies are still in there beds!!

Bus finally arrived and we went off to the mammoth Museum. Oh joy, collections of labelled bones and some cobbled together skeletons with many fake parts. A good video though on the discovery in 2002 of a complete mammoth , with viscous blood! From that they are trying to clone a mammoth with an Indian elephant.Much excitement in the palentological world and a lot of money has come to the Yakutz University mainly from South Korea.

Next excitement was a visit to the permafrost cave open to the public. Named the Kingdom of Frost was on the outskirts of town . You have to rug up to go in, still  chilly so we only needed to put big capes over our coats plus helmets!!!Not sure why the helmets.

The permafrost goes down 300m in Yakutz, 1.5 k up north where we have just been and where Ms Mammoth was found. There are caves dug out of the snow and all sorts of ice carvings, many based on mythological Yakutian creatures. Quite odd but quite  lovely.

We bounced back to town and now know why the roads are so bad, the permafrost moves!!!Plus six months of snow does not help!!! Same hotel, all good.Most of the passengers from the boat where there as well.

Lunch was in a lovely traditional restaurant, all painted furniture and some woven hangings that were tempting but not luckily for sale.

Lunch itself- well, the salad was  OK but the meat soup was vile, great hunks of beef so tough could not cut them, lumps of taties and carrotts, not much was eaten- served in nice bowls! Next was dumplings, usual boring dumplings, then a whipped cream thing with jam on top. Could have done with a Patricks pie but the sald sustained me till dinner at the hotel. That meal was palatable and I weakened and had dessert!!

Weather improved as the day went on and had a pleasant walk back thru strolling Sunday Yakutians. A few drunks around but harmless. The province is called Yakutia and they refer to that or Russia not Siberia. 

The last two days on the river were very smokey and we heard that there are big peat fires in the north. Our guide darkly said they are often deliberately lit by the Chinese so they can access the wood. Apparently just over the border in China there are endless mills which receive truckload after truckload of wood, some singed! How true it is who knows but suspect it may be.

Off to Khabarovsk in South East Russia, still Siberia but not Yakutia. 

The group is splintering, the blondes are muttering darkly, the waifs and strays just drink vodka, and the teetotallers flutter around the edges. 

Dahlias for Joss

War memorial bronzes

War Memorial

Ghastly apartment blocks

Painted restaurant

To the Arctic Circle and Back

  1. So ten days since  email contact…. my sim wasnot that successful maybe another provider may have been better. Who knows..

The Lena just goes on forever, sometimes over 3 k wide sometimes a few furious hundred metres wide. 

We missed a number of stops due to damaged sort of wharves and wild river  and we were stuck on a sand bank for 36 hours!!! It was  quite a pleasant place, just one family- related of course to our guide!!! lots of big fish were caught by our crew and passengers, pike and sturgeon, BIG fish!!!! No pikkies as I never took my phone ashore for the party where we drank more vodka and had fish soup whilst waiting to be pulled off the  sandbank. Eventually two tugs appeared and did the deed in the middle of the night.

Tiksi the furthermost landing point in the Arctic Circle was  not able to be breached as the wharf was damaged- wharf being a euphemistic term for rusted old barges. The day before we landed  at Kyusur . A ghastly place, with rotting buildings, high unemployment  and no obvious way of supporting the population of mainly begging children and drunken women. About 2000 people subsist there, these places have just been left to rot as the Soviet era ended and nothing has taken its place. Tiksi looked just as bad.

A sobering experience which took many vodkas onboard to alleviate. 

Loads of sandflies,, my bitepatches have been great. Little buggers bite thru clothing. Temps have plummeted since Yakutz but now even there has nosedived, just about to land back there tomorrow  and has been 11, today.

Now anchored off  Sottinsky , pouring with rain, so not going ashore to the faux rusticated fort. Similar to Tilsi seen days ago!!!

Food on board has been fine, vodka cheap and NZ co mainly OK. Group of Swedes very bullish and Germans as you would expect.

Wildlife very sparse, someone saw a wolf, someone saw a reindeer herd? Few birds  and msny many birch forests before we got to the tundra where there was not much of anything!!! 

Come again-no!!! Mongolia possibly!!!!

Cat was sighted at the fishing village

upside down Margaret at the same place

Gangway constantly caused problems

Place where we spent 36 hours

Winter accommodation in Khysur

Guns casually leaning against the back wall



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