Approaching a dream
3 years in a row (2004-2006) I travelled in Eastern European countries but then had to change my priorities because I struggled to finish my studies. Nevertheless, an end for this phase approached and somewhen in 2009 I thought about the time after my exam. Because you'll hardly get more time for travelling for a longer period of time then between ending studies and before entering job life...
After being in the Baltic region and Ukraine, I felt prepared and that the time had come to travel in the country which attracted my interest since my youth: the Russian Federation. And as a reward of my finished studies extensively travelling this huge country, meaning not only for a couple of days or some weeks and going around in the European part but travelling for months and really experiencing the whole country!
Initially my idea was to have my studies completed in summer (2010). I did not know how long my journey would take but thought about half a year; and I had only a rough route in starting in St. Petersburg and going all the way through to Vladivostok. Where to go and what to see all in-between I wanted to decide spontaneously.
And I even extended my thoughts. Because when I would be already in the Far East, respectively almost in South East Asia, and hence not ending there but passing border to Korea, then heading to Japan and from there also going to Vietnam. I did not think any further from here because I was not sure if I can make this come true. But as it appeared that I won't manage to finish my thesis and make the exam until summer, I had to adjust my idea. Instead of postponing my trip until everything was done, I focused on travelling where I originally wanted to go: Russia during summer holiday time, starting in July and returning in September. And after my return make a last check for my thesis, hand it over and make the final exam in November.
Making a dream come true and last preparations
Still busy in writing my thesis I also prepared for my journey in Summer. It was clear that an ordinary visa, which is only valid for 4 weeks, would not be enough, so I had to organise a business visa, what was no problem as this is simply a matter of price.
I also had to think about accommodation because this is one of the most expensive expenses when travelling, especially when travelling for 3 months and in addition being a student who is broke ;-p 2010 was the year where I got to know Couchsurfing and joined the community – which appeared to be gold! Not only in surfing myself and getting to know great locals (everyone! No single and bad experience about that) with their great hospitality, giving helpful information and showing you around, especially off the beaten track. But before "taking" I was giving myself in hosting other Surfers and participated in this community which was even more a small family because there were so many different activities and so called "Ambassadors" taking care of the community – back then. Because it has changed in my opinion a lot (looking back from nowadays point of view). However, at the time I started I had no idea if it would work out, but even if not I would then have to fall back on my Lonely Planet I used.
July came up and so the moment to start the journey. I can remember considering what to take with me. Because the difference to my trips before was that I would be on the way for 3 months. I wanted to keep my backpack as light as possible but also had to take everything with me what appeared to be necessary and important. In the end I found my standard weight (until today) of 12 kg, I hardly can keep it lighter but also hardly get more weight than this.
Last but not least, 2010 was still a year where a mobile phone was mainly a phone! No internet and no possibility to check everything immediately (transport, way, accommodation, communication etc.), everything had to be done in advance or relying on luck when arriving. And to get stuck and/or lost was also a possibility to keep in mind :) In this light I'd say that travelling at that time was more of a challenge and more exciting... But I guess that also backpackers from the 1980s, 60s etc. say the same when comparing to 1990s or '00 years...
Because of this long journey I'll split my story to three parts, otherwise there would be too many photos on one page causing a slow performance:
The European part: Piter - Moscow - Nishni - Kazan - Samara - Chelyabinsk - Ekaterinburg. Because of practical reasons I'll be imprecise and add Chelyabinsk here, which is in fact already behind the Urals but was on my route for the European part
The Siberian part: Omsk - Novosibirsk - Tomsk - Krasnoyarsk - Irkutsk/Lystvianka
The Far East: I'll add here the part concerning the island Olkhon with the village Khuzhir at lake Baikal, which would be middle of Siberia. But the amount of fotos and because the fact that I had to leave a lot in the Far East I add the part here together with Ulan-Ude and Vladivostok
For your information, I already had a travel diary on another site until the city of Tomsk. Then issues occurred with the owner of the site and I stopped writing there. My diary at this site I already deleted because of my own site now. I will use what I have written back then but partially updated, otherwise the original text makes no sense. From Krasnoyarsk on I have to remember what I did back then, but I have to say that even though 10 years passed I still can remember this memorable journey..! In some or a lot fotos you can find further information about the moment of the foto/situation.