Going Russian in the Altai Region


This morning we arrived in the Altai region with the overnight bus from Novosibirsk. The night had been quite long as the departure was at 23h00 and then there were several stops on the way at which every Russian went outside (desperate to smoke, or, even more desperate, to buy their beer or vodka). This “night” added to the previous “night” in the Trans-Siberian (in which it got pretty cold, so we did not get that much sleep neither as we were freezing our buttocks off) made that we were kind of dead when the bus finally dropped us off at campsite “Globus Plus” in the Altai Region. It was the first time since the beginning of our trip that it was raining like hell also and therefore we decided to catch up with some sleep in our UNHEATED (!!!) cottage (it was quite cold, like 8 degrees and everything pretty wet, so that did not help a lot). We were on some kind of campsite with wooden cottages, providing basic equipment (basically a bed and sheets, showers and toilets were shared in some cabin (yes also outside and cold in the pouring rain)). :-)
After a 3 hour “beauty nap” it actually stopped raining and thus we went out to have a look around. The surroundings were absolutely great: mountains, lots of trees and a beautiful, very long river that we walked along for a little while until things even got better because guess what??? The sun came out!!! :-) It even actually got too hot! (Yeah we know, never happy, always complaining…). ;-)

In the evening we went to the camp restaurant to have a real Russian meal (real Russian because we did not know what we were having, and also because it was not great). So hanging around a bit, happy that it was almost evening, so that we could go to bed again, there were some Russians that have some other ideas for us, because all of a sudden a lady started speaking to us if we were “the French” who were going to do some rafting tomorrow. ??? It turned out that we actually were the REAL attraction on the campsite, being the only foreigners between Russians. And so from one thing came another and before we knew it a lot or Russians wanted to talk to us and foremost drink vodka (of course!). Now Russian tradition wants it that we eat some “snacks” with the vodka. And here the first troubles started (mainly due to our rather inexisting knowledge of the Russian language) because they absolutely insisted that we should choose the “snacks” to have with the vodka. After about 10 minutes of gesturing around and “talking” without understanding, they finally got the point that if they were not going to decide on those famous “snacks”, we would still be standing there the following morning. :-)
So now that we had the “snacks” we could take off for some serious drinking (well the Russians at least). Incredible how much (and how fast) they can drink vodka… Unfortunately they also get drunk quite quickly and then they get kind of boring. So in this case they absolutely wanted to make a fire to grill some meat (and we had to be there also, no way to peep out), which took ages and after a few hours we could finally go to bed, not having touched any meat (due to the absence of an appropriate fire) but smelling like two logs of burned wood. Welcome to Russia! ;-)

The next morning we got up quite well, as we were going to do some rafting on the local river. So we got some New-Zealand, but it was enough to get us wet until our underwear and by the time we got to the endpoint we were quite happy that it was over as we were freezing our buttocks off. The weather had turned bad again and while visiting Tjemal in the afternoon (with a guide, in Russian) it rained like hell. The guide assured us however that this was completely normal weather for Altai (well, that immediately makes you feel better right??? Grrr…). :-)

But then luckily there are always some Russians to “heat you up” with some good ol’ alcohol and so when we got back to the campsite, two Russians were already waiting for us with a local drink based on honey and some snacks so we spent a nice (and warm) evening before heading back to Novosibirsk the next morning. :-) All in all it was an ok-trip and it did very good to move our legs a bit before getting on the train again, heading to Irkutsk. :-)

Vera & Jean-Christophe


  1. mamma
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 16:25 | Permalink

    L’aventure continue. Quel style pour le récit ! Bravo, on se régale ! A bientôt dans votre Magical World. Bacioni. PS : grâce à vous, je fais des progrès sensationnels en anglais : buttocks, nap, drunk, etc… -:)

  2. Posted August 23, 2007 at 22:04 | Permalink

    Novosibirsk and Irkutsk, I’ve often been there with my finger on the map. Must be cold there. Meanwhile I rack my brain whether I should spent the next week on vacation at the baltic sea, Barcelona or Berlin. Never mind where, I will have a dry and warm hotel room.

    Nevertheless I had my own event with our beautiful nature. I saved hopefully the life of a very very young bird. He had some minutes of recreation on my hand, before a colleague, a very nice woman, with a lot of expierience in saving little birds took this little worm to give him a dry and warm home too. So you see a little bird can have a much better life at the first glance than you both on your trip around the world.

    Novosibirsk and Irkutsk, far, far away from us. Unbelievable! For the most of us it will be unbelievable for ever.

  3. Posted August 26, 2007 at 0:19 | Permalink

    I took some minutes to see all the pictures. It makes me go travelling. I will start tomorrow morning. Berlin, perhaps a side trip to Poland, the homeland of my mother. Hope i can have a little bit of your feeling. Hope to have a look to the baltic sea.

    Vera with a skirt, very sexy;-) I heard from other countries where you would not get the permission to enter a church in a skirt. So Russia seems to be a tolerant country?

  4. Posted August 28, 2007 at 7:59 | Permalink

    Quelles belles photos! Et les commentaires sont très vivants, j’ai l’impression d’être vraiment avec vous! Les locomotives à vapeur sont-elles des pièces de musée ou bien certaines roulent-elles encore? J’espère que vous garderez tout cela pour faire un beau livre d’aventures lorsque vous reviendrez. Bisous

  5. Posted August 28, 2007 at 8:41 | Permalink

    Vera een leuk artikel,gelukkig hebben jullie russen om je heen die je goed warm houden met wodka, jammer van het weer, maar dat gaat wel weer beter worden, ik geloof dat ik de atlas erbij ga pakken. Mam

  6. Posted August 28, 2007 at 20:16 | Permalink

    Nice story!
    Rafting is a new zealand thing! Don’t drink to much wodka because after some days you are used to it and that’s dangerous….
    Bon voyage

  7. marie-annick
    Posted August 29, 2007 at 10:35 | Permalink

    superbe les photos. Il y en a une qui me pose problème: celle de Jean-Christophe à 4 pattes. Je ne savais pas qu’il avait besoin d’une loupe pour admirer la nature!!!! j’espère que ta vue va s’arranger d’ici la fin de votre périple!!!!
    sinon, bonne continuation et faites-nous toujours autant rêver. Bisous à vous deux.

  8. Jean-Christophe
    Posted August 31, 2007 at 6:45 | Permalink

    A Dany : les locomotives a vapeur sont devenues toutes des pieces de musees, mais d apres notre guide, elles sont maintenues avec passion et seraient encore en etat de rouler.
    Merci en tout cas a tous pour les commentaires, ca fait tres plaisir !

  9. Jean-Christophe
    Posted August 31, 2007 at 6:46 | Permalink

    To Giel : for the rafting, we are planning to do some in New-Zealand, but we are not quite there yet :) as for the Vodka, I manage to get out of Russia with only 6 vodkas!!! That was pretty hard not to have more…