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Citation du moment
« Il n'y a pas de bonnes habitudes. L'habitude, c'est une façon de mourir sur place. »
Albert Quentin - Un singe en hiver


25 Apr 2014 | Moskva, Russia


It had to be on my way, I end up in Moskva, quite by accident actually... I have nothing much to do in the city as I quite visited it a few years ago at the exact same period, but I really need a few days rest after weeks of moving and moving again. So in between meeting some old and new friends, lazy Moskva it is!

Transsiberian express

16 Apr 2014 | Kurgan, Kurganskaya Oblast, Russia


Time is running fast, and even if I appreciate so much the Baikal area, it's time for me to move on. From there I start my transsiberian crossing, but hitchhiking is not as boring as taking the train :-)

On the way I meet tens of nice people who give me rides from a few kilometers to several hundreds or even thousands. I visit a few cities and meet interesting people everywhere: Novosibirsk which, as being the third biggest city of Russia, is big and not very attractive to me; Omsk which is more acceptable in term of size and atmosphere; and Kurgan which is rather small and untouched so on a very different level. I expected the way to be a bit hard, but it turns out to be so easy, many trucks actually crossing all the way, even going to Europe sometimes, very happy to offer rides, give Russian lessons, and even share their food with me!

I leave Siberia with an heavy heart, really amazed by the kindness of the people in such a tough area!


11 Apr 2014 | Irkutsk, Irkutskaya Oblast, Russia


From Listvyanka, I start to hitchhike in the direction of Irkutsk. The first car to pass is driven by Andrei who stop for me. Andrei is an amazing man, very interesting and cultivated, he subject is history and he knows a lot about it, would it be the history of Russia, France, or any other country. As I don't have a place to stay for that night he takes me to his home and take a great care of me, taking me around the city on the following day, explaining all the history of it, perfect!
I spend a second night at Sasha and Masha who are friends of Tanya with whom I stayed in Slyudyanka, they are also very interesting as experienced travelers.
From all these people, I get a very warm feeling of this city which I definitely need to visit again :-)

The turquoise lake

9 Apr 2014 | Baikal, Irkutskaya Oblast, Russia


I just cannot leave the area without spending a few days around the Baikal!
I found out that the transsiberian railway used to follow the Angara river from Irkutsk until Port Baikal, and then followed the lake to join the current route at Slyudyanka. When the dam on the Angara river was built in Irkutsk, the line was put underwater and the current route was built. So the bit from Port Baikal to Slyudyanka is now almost disused, with only a few trains a week that serve that dead end. That would make a great hiking pathway, some one hundred kilometer along the lake.

So here I go, with no preparation whatsoever, and of course I forget to take food (I thought about taking some on the way, but didn't find any shop on a frozen lake...), and enjoy three days of freedom with very little civilization, and a few great encounters! The lake turns more and more amazing at each turn, wonderful views and wonderful colors, I will need to come back!

Baikal my love

7 Apr 2014 | Slyudyanka, Irkutskaya Oblast, Russia


After a funny day of hitchhiking which shows me variety and warmth of Siberian people, I arrive in Slyudyanka, a village at the southern tip of the lake Baikal.
There I stay with Tatiana and her mum, who is very dangerous: she wants to feed me so much until I explode :D And as neither of them really speak English, I make good progress on my Russian (well, I imagine so at least).

So the couple of days I stay there are spent walking around or on the Baikal which is still frozen at the season, I really fall in love with such a beauty! Amazing landscape, with all the mountains and forest around....

Siberia baby!

5 Apr 2014 | Ulan-Ude, Republic of Buryatia, Russia


As I cannot walk over the border, and hitchhiking is promising hard, I decide that after all I should try the transsiberian train! So I take a ticket from Sukhbaatar, the last city in Mongolia, to Naushki, the first one in Russia. It's a 20km-1hr ride (plus several hours of customs and immigration controls) that leaves me in a little wooden town in the middle of nowhere. So back on thumb, it feels great to have that freedom of movement again, and also -unlike Mongolia- my basic of Russian allows me to communicate with people.

Within a few hours I reach Ulan-Ude, the capital of the Republic of Buryatia. Buryatia is named after the original inhabitants of the area, the Buryats, which are basically of same origins as the Mongols, they shared their language and their nomadic way of life. But since, people have moved around, or been moved by the soviet regime, so there is an incredible mix of ethnicity and people. No one can really say they are 100% something. And same goes with religion, even if Buryatia is known as the Buddhist capital of Siberia, there are also a lot of Chamanists, and all types of Christians...

I spend only a few days in Ulan-Ude, staying with Sveta snd Anton, which are incredibly super nice and welcoming! I visit a bit of the city, meet several people, everyone is warm and welcoming, it's good going around. And just before I leave, Anton takes me to the ethnographical museum which is a very interesting open-air museum, showing evolution in architecture and life-style since the old ages, the recent building being actual houses that have been transported all the way to the museum.

For sure I'll be back!


30 Mar 2014 | Erdenet, Orkhon Aimag, Mongolia


Visa in my pocket, I make my way to Erdenet, which with 85 000 souls is the second largest city of Mongolia. But that is just a status, it's still a little town, surrounded by extensive ger districts. It has been created during the soviet time, by the Russians, for the mining industry. As so, it is a planned city, much more organized than UB and -except for the recent buildings in UB- looking somehow more modern.

There I meet Marc who is a friend of Uli. Marc is a real US American: he thinks big! His current mission is to teach English to every Mongolian, especially the poor ones who cannot afford such education, so that would give more equality in between people.
So he created his own English school, which is a mix of a cafe and study room... He also got his own TV show where he throws some English at people. Well, he has lot of imaginative and practical ways to achieve his objective. It's very interesting to be around and see how he does. I also end up conversing with a lot of people who want to practise their English, which gives me some clues about how it is to teach English.

Marc also owns a little camp/hotel in the mountains close by, made of Buryat (wooden) yourts. The place is closed at the season but he offers me to stay there for a couple of days. The watchman takes the chance to spend these days in town, so I find myself alone there, meeting with the neighbours at the other side of the valley and going sheep herding, walking in the mountains, listening to the wolves howling at the moon. Super!

Cowboy time!

18 Mar 2014 | Orkhon, Darkhan-Uul, Mongolia


While my visa is being processed in UB, I spend my time volunteering at Martin's ranch in Orkhon, a little village in the North of the country.
Martin is an interesting character, born German from Cossacks origin, he spent most of his life serving in different armies as a mercenary, and a big part in Australia, before ending up in Mongolia some fourteen years ago where he is now having a ranch with his wife Minjee.
But he seems still being at war, at war with time who is inflicting on his health, at war with the local people who make his life hard, not working the way he wants to (Mongolian are definitely not good workers haha), at war with the harsh winter and this hard Mongolian life which is spending summer preparing winter. No rest for him, he deserves a holiday.

At the ranch there is also Norman, German young man with Mongolian origins, related with Minjee. Turning bad in Germany, he has been sent here by his mum to learn about what is life. He doesn't like it, for him everyone is an ennemy. But still it looks like he is at least growing up and making better ideas about what is important in life.

So I find myself here, the work is mainly about shovelling shit to clean the stable, but still learning a bit about how a ranch work, and how working with Mongolians is. Somehow I feel more comfortable with these kind of people around, whose life is harsh, who are turning crazy, but can then enjoy what is to be enjoyed.


8 Mar 2014 | Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia


It's time to go to the next country: Mongolia!
Mongolia is a bit special for hitchhiking, they don't have much roads -they like to start and finish roads in the middle of the desert apparently-, and they don't have much cars. And for the little that can be done they expect to be paid for rides. Nevertheless, as soon as I am in Zamyn-Üüd across the border, I try my luck. I ask an old lady the way to Ulaanbaatar -as I have to go there quickly to arrange my next visa that might take some time processing- and she points at the desert: this way!

After three long hours walking in the desert, finally on some road I found, by minus 20 celsius, without seeing a single car or truck (well, one that gave a 5km ride) , I was ready to pay for my ride in case I would got any. Finally a car shows up, agrees to take me to UB for a little fee, and after some checkpoint drive back to Zamyn-Üüd and put me in the train (my understanding of Mongolian is close to none haha).
That gives me the flavour of my travel accross Mongolia: no hitchhiking, it's by trans-mongolian that I will go.

In the train I meet Mohammed, an Algerian traveller that just cycled accross Russia and Mongolia to China during the winter and is on his way back, it's good to share stories and ideas with him!
And finally I arrive in Ulaanbaatar (lit. 'the red hero') -or UB as they call it here-. I stay at Uli's, a german guy who has been living and working there for the last height years. It's really nice encounter as we share a lot on our view of the world. He is considering quitting his job to work on a little organic farm in Germany with some friends, where he already spends his winters.

I come again three weeks later to get my visa back (photos are from both my stays), the weather is already much warmer and the city more enjoyable. But this city has no charm, Mongols are not made for cities.


3 Mar 2014 | Beijing, China


Time to visit the capital, Beijing (北京 lit. North capital) here I come! Along the way it really feels like it, the roads become bigger with more traffic, lots of highways coming from all over the country slowly merge one into the other... And after an hour being detained by the police at the checkpoint before the city (something wrong with my passport apprently, but as they couldn't explain me what, they just gave up), I finally arrive in the city!

And what a huge city it is! There I stay with Jay, cool girl that I met in Laos, who give me a few clues about it before disappearing on her busy schedule. My legs are still hurting from my intensive hike in Huashan so I don't walk too much around. Still from what I see, it's an interesting one, with its own identity and people. It's a big cosmopolitan mix of all the country's ethnicity and also foreigners. Wandering around you can feel the pressure of history! The famous Tiananmen square, the biggest square in the world, which is the symbol of revolution is tightly controlled (you cannot even get there without passing a metal detector) probably in fear of a new revolution. I skip the Forbidden City seeing the huge crowd of noisy tourists (it's weekend), and can't see Mao's mausoleum as I wanted to as it's closed.

But the main point of me being there is to experience one of the human-built wonders of this world, the Great Wall of China. And I'm not disappointed, after some reasearch I finally found a place I could easily go which is not destination for the crowd of tourists, and what an amazing hike it is!