22 Reasons to Hug Vladivostok

Many Trans-Siberian Railway travelers cross Russia from Moscow, passing Lake Baikal, then cut south through Mongolia to Beijing. The fools. Not continuing on, to its very Russian end at Vladivostok (about 100 miles from North Korea) is like reading War & Peace‘s 1400 pages and skipping Tolstoy’s didactic, unbearable 40-page essay on war at the end. Wait. Bad example. I skipped that too. … Read on

Video: Russia’s Ysyakh Festival

Yakutsk is the coldest city in the world. In winter, temperatures can fall to 70-below Farenheit. Locals (split evenly between Sakha and Russians) must keep cars running all day — or in heated garages — or their motors freeze up till May. It stands on stilts, to protect itself from the thaws and freezes of the cruel permafrost below. Yet when I returned … Read on

Novy Urgal: Boredom in a BAM Town

Novy Urgal, the lead town from the eastern stretches of the BAM railway, is clearly not a place most, or any, travellers will come to. The train station has no guesthouse, and a tragic toilet for those needing it. The hotel is under renovation — if you can find it — and a scattered group of tile-peeling buildings are lined along dusty streets … Read on