EURASIA 2005

In 2005 I made a three-month-trip. I travelled 34195 kilometers by train from Europe to Asia and back:





A short overview of the trip:


Graz - Budapest - Kiev (2005-07-21 till 2005-07-24)
I started the trip in my hometown Graz on 21th july 2005 at 6:03 in the morning. Together with two friends (Stefan and Alexander) we went to Budapest, were we met Oliver, another friend from Switzerland.
Together we took the train to Kiev, were we spent two days.

Kiev by night:




Moskva - Severobajkalsk (2005-07-25 till 2005-07-31)
After that Stefan and Alexander went back home via Lvov, whereas Oliver and I continued to Moscow. In Moscow we met Alexander (not the same who went with us till Kiev), who is a Russian train expert and helped us to also to get train tickets from Irkutsk to Ulan-Bator and from there to Beijing. After two days in Moscow we boarded train no. 92 to Severobajkalsk, where we arrived 92 hours and 45 minutes later.

On the train somewhere in Siberia:




GBT project at Ayaya-bay (2005-08-01 till 2005-08-14)
Oliver and I were volunteering at the GBT project. Together with a small group of people from Russia and Germany we spent two weeks away from civilization to work on the GBT project - a hiking trail around the Baikal lake. Our camp took place in the Ayaya bay, which is located on the Eastern shore of the Baikal lake and can only be reached by boat.

Baikal lake:




Olkhon island and Irkutsk (2005-08-15 till 2005-08-22)
After the two weeks we returned to Severobajkalsk, were I met my fellow travellers for the rest of the trip: Florian from Frankfurt/Main, Anja from Trier (Germany), Veronika from Vienna and Doreen from Munich. We all were searching for travel partners and found each other on a discussion board on the internet. We planned the trip together via e-mail, discussed the procedure to get the necessary visas and also organized a meeting before our trip, so that we get to know each other a little bit.
From Severobajkalsk we took the hydrofoil to Olkhon island, were we stayed three days. Then we went by bus to Irkutsk and after one day continued by train to Ulan-Bator.

Olkhon island:




Mongolia (2005-08-23 till 2005-08-27)
We had four days in Mongolia. One to do some sightseeing in Ulan-Bator, three for a short trip to the countryside by car. Then we travelled to China.

Road to nowhere:




China (2005-08-28 till 2005-09-05)
We spent three days in Beijing before reaching Shanghai after 12202 kilometers on the train. Shanghai was the farest point from home. Doreen left us here to to fly home - not all of us were students with neverending holidays. For the rest of us the way back home was a little bit longer.
In only 5 days we travelled through all China to Almaty in Kazakhstan. We had two short stops at Xian and Urumchi.

Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai:




Kazakhstan (2005-09-06 till 2005-09-15)
In Almaty we stayed about a week and to explore the interesting countryside around Almaty. Here we also met Aizhana, a friend from Graz. She was born in Almaty, but studies in Graz since about 1998.

In the mountains near Almaty:




Uzbekistan (2005-09-16 till 2005-09-24)
Florian flew home from Almaty - also for him the job was waiting, so we were only three on our further trip to Uzbekistan. We spent about 10 days in Uzbekistan and visited the ancient towns of the Silk Road: Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva.

Bibi-Khanum-Mosque in Samarkand:




The long way home via Siberia (2005-09-25 till 2005-10-14)
After Uzbekistan we splitted up again: Anja and Veronika went back home with a short stay at Astrakhan in Russia, whereas I decided to make a small detour via Siberia...
After some nice, relaxing days in and around Irkutsk, I went back home to Austria via Moscow (where I again met Alexander) and Budapest. I arrived at home on 14th october at 15:36 - 85 days, 9 hours and 33 minutes after leavin Graz.

Train in the Kazakh step:



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Visas


I needed five visas for my trip: Russia, Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. It took about 6 weeks to get all this visas and I spent about 400 Euros for them. The most expensive was the Russian visa, as I needed a double-entry business visa (110 Euro) for which a special invitation (80 Euro) was necessary.

Russia, three-month double-entry business visa:


Mongolia, single-entry tourist visa:


China, single-entry tourist visa:


Kazakhstan, double-entry tourist visa:


Uzbekistan, single-entry tourist visa:




Train tickets:

We also bought some train tickets in advance. It is no problem to get train tickets and sleeping car reservations for Russia in Austria, so we used the Eurodomino-ticket for the trip to Severobajkalsk.
We also arranged tickets for the international trips Irkutsk – Ulan Bator, Ulan Bator – Beijing and Urumchi – Alma-Ata. Alexander, another friend in Moscow who works at a railway ticket agency, was very helpful and bought the Irkutsk – Ulan-Bator ticket for us and organized a ticket Ulan-Bator – Beijing, which we would pick up at Ulan-Bator.
The Austrian travel agency, from which we got the visa support letters, organized tickets Urumchi – Alma-Ata, to be picked up at Urumchi on 5th september.
For the other trips we did not arrange any tickets in advance, as trains on this (mostly domestic) routes run more frequent and buying tickets locally should be no big problem. Of course also costs were an issue.

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