Federal highways were not the roads we chose to hitch in Western Siberia. “Here I’ll stop to rest” said the driver of KAMAZ truck. We agreed to meet at 6AM sharp in the morning and went out into the mist of the night to look for the camping place. Next day we entered Khakassia – the Republic that remains close to our hearts. Igor – the boss of our truck driver, turned out to be as kind and helpful as his employee – we changed the rides, now sitting in his jeep. In Kop’yevo, his hometown, he explains how grass fires destroyed many homesteads and how many families moved into the new tract houses. Emotional and seemingly drunk he describes “All of it thanks to Putin. All new places to live for the families”. Later we toured through some villages, which are nameless in google maps. “Everything was here, people were busy and happy, now who will stay here” changing the tone for less positive one, he gestured at abandoned kolkhoz buildings and empty streets. Nostalgia for the Soviet Union was a common phenomenon occurring on our road, from the western borders of the Caucasus countries till Vladivostok. Although live might be not easy here, each village was surrounded by grassy hills dotted with dark needle-leaf forests, they looked like they come straight from fairy tale. We thought that reaching Sunduki will take quite some time since roads began to get worse and we didn’t see any other car. We were wrong, “No problem, I take you there”, it was hard to refuse Igor’s offer.
Khakassian steppe on the both sides of the road is different than the one in Mongolia although it’s hard to say why. The jeep started to bounce on the sandy ground, we turned our heads to see the burial mounds – huge isolated rocks standing in vast empty grasslands. In front of us the most unique shape of the mountains started to appear. We were left just at the foothill of the “First Sunduk” and after farewell with the driver we started the short hike. Whether Sunduki are one of the oldest astronomical observatory or not, they’re for sure amazing monument of nature. We took out the tuna fish conserve and sat there watching the grand shadows of clouds rolling through the never-ending steppe. The view from the top was breathtaking. On our way down we encountered a large group of people dressed all in white who were involved in some kind of spiritual dance ritual. In the next days we would meet many locals claiming that Sunduki area is “power spot”, storing a mysterious energy around it. The director of the park came up to meet us, happy for foreign visitors. We were introduced to the pupils from the school nearby. They were excited to share with us a lot of information about the park, since that was their summer job there. Having a moment to rest we spread the tent tarp to let it dry after the previous morning dew. We showed to the curious youngsters where’s Finland on the world map and started to hitch a ride on the parking lot. That afternoon we reached another marvel of Khakassia – Lake Bele. This largest mineral reservoir of the Republic amazed us with its calmness. After setting up the tent we happily run into the water and admired odd, gray and pink limestone ground at the bottom. The water surface was so still, we looked at the sun set behind the Mount Chalpan and could only hear far echo of Russian disco from somewhere.