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The Road

The Road

Blessing on the Mountain

We were around 180 km east from the city of Minusinsk where Vissarion gave the first public speech in 1991. Finally the only van on the dirt road stopped – yet again for some time saving us from clouds of mosquitoes and the possibility of a close encounter with a bear. We jumped in the back of UAZ van as if it was our home – it’s pretty common automobile in Central Asia. The driver and his friend were not the followers, two fishermen, already semi drunk, knew little of the community at the end of the road, deep in the Siberian forest. Slowly moving we were getting closer and closer to the place which was a long time pinned on our travel map. Suddenly on the dirt road curve, we spotted an older bearded man walking towards the opposite direction – stick in his hand and a clothes in shades of white and gray made him quite noticeable. “Ha, here you go – a wizard” grunted the driver scratching his arm through a camo shirt. After a few minutes he stopped the machine, they packed up their fishing gear and went somewhere into the forest, we still had 30 minutes walk to do. Our faces were more sweaty than we expected once we got to the wooden guard post. After explaining our story in half-Russian the kind man inside made some calls on the radio. Soon we were greeted and warmly welcomed by the members of the Mountain community.

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The Road

A Little Scary Siberian Night Ride

“If there would be a dead human body back in the trunk, would that be a problem for you?” Somehow no one asked us that question before. The night was freezing, around us only wild forest inhabited by siberian tigers and brown bears. Looking into the darkness through the van window, we decided that we’re comfy inside, even if we’re accompanied by a surprise motionless passenger somewhere in the back…

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The Road

Days of Heaven at Secret Kazakh Sibinskie Lakes

We had to explain ourselves maybe to 10 drivers. Once you’re in Eastern Kazakhstan and you wish to have a swim in the lake, it better be Alakol Lake. Otherwise locals will give you a hard time describing its beauty and telling you how much you’re going to miss. It might be so, but if we would not reach other, planned by us, destination – Sibinskie Lakes, we would miss a real paradise! 

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The Road

Erdene Zuu – Mongolia’s oldest buddhist monastery that survived centuries of persecution

The scorching sun woke us up early in the morning near Kharkhorin town along the river of Orkhon. We ran quickly to cool our bodies in the water and enjoyed its coolness. Our camping place was on a wide steppe and only a few trees and the rugged sandstone wall, that silenced sounds of the adjacent highway, gave us a shadow. After a closer look it seemed that the place was kind of an animal burial ground… here and there bodies of birds, a ram’s skull in a preserved state and horse’s  leg chopped off with all its flesh! We didn’t have time to process everything we saw because soon, after walking to the main road, a car filled with people stopped next to us. There was no common language, but after saying the name of the destination and exchanging smiles, as always,we were offered a ride.

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The Road

Hiking up on the Hallasan Mountain

The majestic figure of Hallasan Mountain, with its peak often covered with clouds, shapes a distinctive profile against the sky. This massive natural monument is the highest mountain in South Korea (tops out at 1950 m) forming the bulk of its largest island Jeju. As a volcano it’s, classified as an active one, but since it has not erupted for more than 5,000 years, its status is argued by scientists to be ‘dormant’. There is a national park surrounding the summit, and the area is deemed a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. No matter where you go on the island, you will see the magnificent crater painting the horizon with its scenic nature, and it will entice you to explore its wonders. 

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The Road

Korean Ski Resort Frozen in Time

The time has stopped in the abandoned Alps Ski Resort near Sockho in Gangwon province close to the North Korean border (DMZ zone). Opening its doors in the 1980s, it was the first destinations of its kind in South Korea welcoming tens of thousands of skiers every year. Except the ski slopes the resort had every amenity you can imagine including golf, bowling, swimming pools, bars, a night club and restaurants. Now, once a booming destination has been abandoned since 2006 after its owner went bankrupt in the face of growing competition. 

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The Road

Work and meditation in rural side of Korea

Our driver with gestures and mimics asked us, are we sure that this is the place. Back in Seoul, he picked us up from the petrol station, tried to figure out translator on his phone, failed to do it, and so we drove for over 2 hours listening to Korean radio stations. The night full of insect and bird sounds welcomed us to our destination. Very anxious about our first work exchange experience, we knocked on the gate and soon were invited inside. The next two weeks in this place were quite a quiet, purifying and magical time in which we learned much more than we’ve expected.

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The Road

Desert in the Middle of Autumn Taiga Forest – Chara Sands

It was getting brighter and we started to wake up in bunk beds of the train. Its jarring and scrooping sounds made a good, authentic lullaby. In the third class carriage we could observe the rest of the passengers sleeping and snoring around us, but the view outside was something much more worth our attention. Mystic Kodar Mountains emerged from the dark curtains of rain far in the horizon. We smiled as we were getting closer to our destination, though this time they were not mountains, it was something rather unique at their foot – the desert.

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The Road

Yurt Night!

The razor-sharp blade of mechanical grass cutter was maybe 10 cm from Marek’s nose. The handle was laying on the knees of a boy sitting in the front of the car. In the back were we plus two other persons. Somehow also our backpacks fit in there. The pain of the squeezed limbs was not big but continous.

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