Siberia surprises

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Wooden building in the old style near Irkutsk. Photos: Crow

We knew Russia was big, but we didn’t realize how big until we traveled from Vladivostok to Moscow, westbound on the Trans-Siberian Express, May 29-June 11, 2006 — seven time-zone changes over 9,288 kilometers (5,771 miles).

We made our arrangements through MIR Corporation (Seattle, WA; 800/424-7289, www.mircorp.com), the U.S. agent for GW Travel, Ltd. (Altrincham, UK).

Merle and Marie Crow in Vladivostok. The mile marker behind them shows the distance to Moscow in kilometers.

Among things that surprised us was the poor condition of the track in places, especially considering the amount of traffic on it.

There are several large, modern cities across Siberia with wide streets, new commercial and apartment buildings and populations of 600,000 to over one million people. Then you go for hundreds of miles without seeing more than a house or two or a few more making up a small village.

Small village in Siberia.

In much of the area they must rely on the trains for everything, as there are no paved roads and in many places only mud “tracks” where it seemed doubtful even a 4-wheel-drive vehicle could make it through.

I also was surprised that, rather than finding most of Siberia to be barren, it was mostly covered by trees, whose stunted growth is apparently due to the permafrost.

MERLE CROW

Honolulu, HI

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.
Wooden building in the old style near Irkutsk. Photos: Crow

We knew Russia was big, but we didn’t realize how big until we traveled from Vladivostok to Moscow, westbound on the Trans-Siberian Express, May 29-June 11, 2006 — seven time-zone changes over 9,288 kilometers (5,771 miles).

We made our arrangements through MIR Corporation (Seattle, WA; 800/424-7289, www.mircorp.com), the U.S. agent for GW Travel, Ltd. (Altrincham, UK).

Merle and Marie Crow in Vladivostok. The mile marker behind them shows the distance to Moscow in kilometers.

Among things that surprised us was the poor condition of the track in places, especially considering the amount of traffic on it.

There are several large, modern cities across Siberia with wide streets, new commercial and apartment buildings and populations of 600,000 to over one million people. Then you go for hundreds of miles without seeing more than a house or two or a few more making up a small village.

Small village in Siberia.

In much of the area they must rely on the trains for everything, as there are no paved roads and in many places only mud “tracks” where it seemed doubtful even a 4-wheel-drive vehicle could make it through.

I also was surprised that, rather than finding most of Siberia to be barren, it was mostly covered by trees, whose stunted growth is apparently due to the permafrost.

MERLE CROW

Honolulu, HI