Sunday a week ago I went for an excursion to Akademgorodok. Julia pointed me on the map all the important attractions, so I just needed to find a way between them. But first I needed to get there by Elektrichka. The area is very spacious so it took some time to get from one point of the map to the next one. Akademgorodok is a small academic town, built directly in the suburban woods of Novosibirsk. It is the scientific centre of Siberia. As already the last days also this Sunday wasa very hot siberian summer day with temperatures far above 30°C.
When leaving one of the main roads, you were directly in the forest and attacked by mosquitos. So I tried to get out of the forrest fast. The people and the flair at this campus are pretty different than in the rest of the city. Mainly young people, students and young families with small kids are on the streets or sitting in one of the nearby popular restaurants or bars. After strolling around the whole afternoon, I finally went to the nearby beach of the Ob reservoir to have an evening beer before I got with the last Elektrichka back to the city.
Saturday late afternoon a week ago Julia took me for a walk through the city, after she finished her cello lessons. First we moved to the Metro station and got off at the 3rd station. Novosibirsk is the third largest city, even if it was founded just 125 years ago, just because of the railway bridge over the river Ob. In contrast to other large cities there are lots of beggars in the streets of downtown.
We got out of the Metro directly at the riverbank. Here we could enjoy the sunset, before we walked a little bit along the river and then went to Krasny prospect, which is the main street of the city…and also all main attractions are just along this street. After a small detour into a park, where a guy played Russian rock songs on the park – I didn’t understood any word, but nevertheless I liked the music – we went to the cinema, which was nicely illuminated. Julia shortly wanted to go into a Karaoke bar, but then she withdraw this idea, because she said it can become late…or early…or even worse 😅. So we passed some bars and nightclubs, and as it was Saturday night, the guys were driving their phallus symbols loud and fast, and the girls wore short skirts, where you thought, wow what a wide belt. So I guess they matched pretty well. Ah…and in Sibira there is the same prejudice about blond haired women than in Germany, they told me, but for sure I had no opportunity to verify this. The time passed by quickly, as Julia speaks fluently German it was the first time that I had such a long and deep conversation in German since now already two months. After having a drink it was already late, because we spoke just too much, and also we went home.
Friday night last week I headed at 2 o’clock in the morning to the railway station, after packing my backpack and having a shower. As I didn’t slept I just wanted to lay on my bed in the train. But…after I got onto it, the conductress provided me the immigration form for Russia, while we were still waiting for departure at the train station of Oskemen. So OK I thought, just fill out this piece of paper. But as it was already quarter past three in the morning, I made two mistakes and just needed to ask the conductress again for a new sheet. I did not yet finished the form while the train manager was approaching me…a little bit nervous. With the help of a piece of paper and some English words, he explained me that I cannot cross the border to Russia in this train between Shemonaikha (Kazakhstan) and Tretyakovo (Russia). Rather I need to get out in Shemonaikha and take a taxi which brings me over the border to Tretyakovo. So…now I had only bad options. Getting out of the train? Possible, then I get my money back. Drive again to Shar – in the middle of nowhere – and have an 11 hour connection overnight, in order to get on the train from Almaty via Semei to Novosibirsk. That would cost me additional 30 hours and maybe a little bit more money. Or taking that kind of taxi. As I was tired and only some seconds for a decision I headed for the later option.
After 3 hours of bad sleep we were arriving in Shemonaikha. For sure I was the only person which got out of the train. While I was almost leaving the fence of the border control zone the Kazakhstan officer stopped me. Now I was surrounded by 3 or 4 officers. But he just explained me, that this border is not open for international persons, you can just cross this border in the train with an passport from Russia or Kazakhstan. He further told me, that he can let me pass, but the Russian border police would not let me in. So, even that would be a bad option. Because then I don’t know what they are doing with me. Sitting in the next train back to Kazakhstan, which will drive in the evening, or just to the nearby border station on the road…also in Kazakhstan. Or even worst case, in a plane back to Germany?!? So I decided not to take this option. Now I also understood finally why the first women the day before didn’t want to sell me a ticket for this train. I mean as it was operating by RZD I could have also bought easily an eTicket, but I wasn’t sure at all, if they let me on the train just with an eTicket. So finally the train manager even called for me a taxi, because I guess that in this small city no standard Taxi app would work. After waiting 20 min the taxi came and we started our interesting journey. To getting just to the border was done in 20 min I guess. But then we had to wait at the Kazakhstan site, and when I entered the building for passport control without my driver I was rejected. So I even understood that crossing that border by foot is also not possible. But leaving Kazakhstan was easy. Then we approached the Russian border. Here I guess I was again the only person with anusual passport. The young border officer spoke a little bit English so I could answer the questions of him. Nevertheless, he needed to check something with my passport and got in a back office. After a couple of minutes I got my stamps and the security officer was already waiting at the car to inspect my backpack. I opened it, he wanted to know where I go and if I have weapons or drugs with me. Then we finally crossed the border and after 5 min drive we were already at the train station. Nevertheless, I guess the whole drive including border controls took a little bit more than 1.5 hours. The train already arrived in Tretyakovo, but I was not yet allowed to enter it. After waiting until the border control was finished on the train, I could enter it again. For sure I was the only person who entered the train at this station. I was happy and my conductress welcomed me with a smile.
Now I could finally have my breakfast and at the next station with a longer break I got even a coffee. The landscape until Barnaul was mainly flat without any trees. In Barnaul we had a almost 1.5 hour break, which I used for a walk and buy some food. After we crossed the Ob in Barnaul the sibirian forest begun. In Novosibirsk my host Julia welcomed me at the railway station.
Thursday afternoon a week ago I met Daniil again and went with Katja and a friend of them to a rock climbing spot in Oskemen. Here Daniil decided to start with a hard 7a, but he didn’t make it to the top during the first attempt. So we made an easier route in between, before he continued with that route up to the top. I also tried, but only in top rope, because I never tried such a hard route, not even in the climbing gym. And I also didn’t managed it. The overhanging step was just too much for me. In the end we climbed at routes 1 and 3 in the small sector.
After the climbing we went to the main train station, because I still needed a ticket for me. I tried it already alone at another train station in the afternoon before the rock climbing, but unfortunately the women there didn’t want to sell me one. And as I didn’t understood why, I could also not argue with her. I already messaged Lena for help, and she told me she called a service line, and they told it should be not a problem to get a train ticket for foreigners at this route. So eventually with the help of Daniil I got my train ticket at the other train station and I thought now everything is fine…at least I thought.
After getting the train ticket we headed back to the city and had dinner together, before we said good bye.
Wednesday a week ago we went for a hiking trip along the Ulba river. At 8 o’clock in the morning Alina, Vika, Lena and me were meeting in front of the ice hockey stadium. Lena already bought the bus tickets the day before. After waiting several minutes the minibus approached (it was of the same type as during the weekend) and we got into it. After two more stops the minibus carried 11 adults and 1 child at 10 seats, almost the same situation as during the weekend. The bus drives up until Altai Alps but we got out shortly after the village Gornaja Ulbinka. We need to take the bridge in order to get to the other side of the river and as the door is closed, we just went underneath the fence. The bridge is part of a private summer camp, which we need to cross. The first houses are no longer in use and already substantially damaged, whereas the rear part is still in operation. After leaving the camp and closing the door, we passed the last house left from us and then the real path begins.
The small path through undergrowth and bushes winds sometimes up in order to overcome the rock cliffs, but from here you’ll have a nice view along the valley. Thounds if not ten thousends of butterflies came to meet us. I could not remember to see such a huge amount of them at all. On a meadow in between there was also a herd of (semi-)wild horses with one stallion which can become very aggressive, if you come to close to one of the mares. After a rock climbing possibility, where a teenager group pitched up their tents, we arrived after about three hours the final camp and picknick site. Here we got our lunch and then went up to the crows peak. From here you have a wonderful view to the river, the surrounding mountains and the cross-birds which were soaring nearby. After another small snack we returned in the same way.
Once we were on the street hitchhiking was not really an option, just because there were too few cars in the week taking this road. And no taxi wanted to drive so far outside the city. Nevertheless, after a few minutes a car passed by and Alina got a phone call, and then the car returned. In the end it was a friend of here who drove with a colleague back to the city. We managed somehow to get all four on the backseat…including our backpacks. But I guess this is just normal here 😄.
As it turned out that Lena was just living in the house next to my host, she spontaneously invited me to have dinner with her. After we enjoyed some beer together Anya picked us up at 23 o’clock. She drove us to the “Mount Kazakhstan”, which is the version of Hollywood in Oskemen. With her 4WD there was no problem to drive the whole way up and enjoy the nightly view over the city. As bad weather was approaching the wind was a little bit stronger at that slightly more exposed peak. This was the final end of a very beautiful day.