One every few days we hear a report of a bus full of Chinese travelers stuck on this road. Not surprising. Conditions here, in the south of the Kola Peninsula, are much milder. Bare ice everywhere is the biggest of our road problems.. A recent photo by Alexander Popov
Another story from Jack from Poland (see the previous story) that may be worth sharing to show the spirit of the country. Reminds me of another couple of travellers who got a free tow from Petrozavodsk to St. Petersburg. So yes, I’d say the situation described below is “typical” for Russia.
While it wasn’t in your neightborhood, I would like to share with you a story, what happened a week before.
As always, I prepared my car thoroughly for the trip. But it’s impossible to predict every failure. At the Russian border, a leak started from the cooling system. My repairs didn’t helped for long. Two days later, in the middle of nowhere, a big diameter, long, rubber hose, has disintegrated totally, due to it’s age. It was looking like a new from outside, while being a garbage inside, at least at a section of it.
Without much effort, I stopped a man, who, using a rope, towed me to an unpaved parking lot at a tire service at route M20. He drove to that place only for me, and took money only for the fuel.
On this parking lot were two military trucks. Soldiers were taking a rest. When I opened the hood of my car, they immediately came to me. We all saw, that the fix is simple, but what can I do without new hose? They tried to cut off hose from their pump (used for pumping oil, I think) to replace that in my car, but diameter was different.
A man from tire service soon appeared. He gave us all what was necassary: a short L-bend hose (from some car), a steel pipe and electric angle grinder. Soldiers cutted out excessive lenght of the pipe, removed rotten part of my hose and assembled everything, using their own hose-clamps. They even filled the cooling system with water from their own portable tank and bleeded it.
Soldiers (like the tire-shop guy) didn’t wanted money. I tried to gave them some jars and cans with food from EU, at least. They refused to take more than 1 jar, and one of them gave me an emblem from shoulder of his uniform.
Contrary to this, in my country (and some others) it’s not easy to find free help. And it’s a real rarity, when somebody offers help to you, because he sees you need it. Russian soldiers repaired my car for free, they worked over 30 minutes till my car was ready to go, wanted nothing in exchange, and they did this before I asked them for help. Today, after 10,000 km, their kludge is still working.
While, when visiting Russia, I’ve met many times with warm reception and gifts, nothing can beat those four soldiers. And their emblem, a personal gift, is my most valuable souvenir.
A few days ago I received the following letter from a Polish traveller to this neck of the woods. I’m reproducing the letter in its entirety, with author’s permission, in the hope it may be of use to other potential travellers here.
2 months ago I asked you some questions before the trip to Teriberka, Tumanny and Sredny peninsula. I returned home recently.
I want to tell you, that all your informations were correct. I wasn’t
arrested there. Also, there are no gas stations, tire services nor car
services at the road to – and in – Teriberka and Tumanny. Nature is
astonishing there, and Teriberka is really magic place. I saw Kandalaksha
too, and many other towns, like Kalevala, Belogorsk or Kirovsk.
When trying to drive to Sredni peninsula, despite being careful, I destroyed
exhaust in my car after just few hundred meters. It was huge mistake, this
road is exclusively for SUVs and 4×4s. I’ve been in workshop in Zapolyarny,
but damage was so severe, I was forced to leave to Norway with broken
exhaust, because my visa (and temporary car importation) was about to
expire. Nobody in low cars should try to go there.
Also, while going to Teriberka/Tumanny, I noticed as low temperatures, as 2
deg. C. (5 – 8 was typical). The temperature sensor was at a mirror, so just
above the ground, near 0 was possible. So, driving there, at the end of
June, with water in radiator was possible, but risky.
Yet another of these silly events… As much as I dislike motors and vehicles and other activities that take me away from my couch I’ll share this piece of news because this sort of happenings does attract viewers, among whom an occasional client may materialize.
Starts on Sunday, September 2 2018, on the Kandalaksha’s main square, and proceeds to an undisclosed location somewhere on the Barentz Sea shore, probably ending up in Murmansk.
The race lasts a week, and participants are, in addition to Russia, from Norway and Finland. The Norwegians will be riding their ATVs.
This is the 25th race of this sort.
Here is a video from one of the past Arctic Trophy events to give you an idea what it looks like.
Yesterday drove through 250km of snow and blizzard on the insistent request of my mate, who apparently needed some variety to clear her head off the eider thoughts. If anybody does not know, she is intensely working on a book on the relationship between humans and eider ducks. Sometimes that results in brain overheat, thus the need for a cooling trip once in a while.
Rumours have reached me that Russians and Finns are presently discussing closing the Salla and Raja-Jooseppi border crossing points to bicycles as a response to crowds of Syrian, Afghan etc. refugee status seekers. These fulfill the formal requirement for travellers wishing to get across to have some form of transportation other than their feet by getting on bikes.