2012 has finally arrived.
Here we are my friends. Matteo and myself are ready to go and can’t wait to prepare all necessary things such as Visas for the second segment of our trip around the world. This time the journey will take us across Siberia all the way to Japan. SIBERIA ??? Yes Siberia it is. Are we nervous ? Absolutely. Siberia can be very rough but at the same time very interesting. Our bikes are safely stored in a basement of a B&B in Ulanbataar. At this stage we are gathering all equipment necessary and we will ship them to Mongolia in March. I need a new front tire as my old one is almost square due to the terrible roads we encounter in Kazakhstan and Mongolia. During our travel we will try to visit the dramatic experience many political prisoners endured in the 1900’s.
In 1754 the Russian government decided to send petty criminals and political opponents to eastern Siberia. Sentenced to hard labour (katorga), the convicts had to travel mostly on foot and the journey could take up to three years and it is estimated about half died before they reached their destination.
Over the next 130 years around 1.2 million prisoners were deported to Siberia. Some prisoners helped to build the Trans-Siberian Railway. Others worked in the silver and lead mines of the Nertchinsk district, the saltworks of Usolie and the gold mines of Kara.
Those convicts who did not work hard enough were flogged to death. Other punishments included being chained up in an underground black hole and having a 48lb beam of wood attached to a prisoner’s chains for several years. Once a sentence had been completed, convicts had their chains removed. However, they were forced to continue living and working in Siberia.
Matteo and myself will depart Ulaanbataar in Mongolia on August 31, 2012 and head north to Ulan-Ude.We will then follow part of the Trans Siberian Railway to Chita and then all the way to the Pacific Ocean toward the island of Sakhalin. From Sakhalin we will embark on a ferry to Japan. Wow….It is easier said than done !
The roads in Siberia are pretty bad. Roomers suggest that there has been great improvements in the past 10 years so we will go with a good level of optimism. We sure hope so because judging from these pictures is not the case.