Turning Point

21 May 2016
Khabarovsk – Restday

Tomorrow I shall point the bike into a western direction. Thus far I have been travelling NNE in Russia. Khabarovsk marks literally a turning-point in my journey: For the first time I’ll go west. Basically from now on until the endpoint I shall be riding westwards. Of course, there shall be some derivations when looking here or there, however ‘Go West’ will be it!

In the morning, after my Salami & cheese breakfast (has become a routine diet) I received an sms from Victor. Purchasing a SIM with a Russian mobile number is something I strongly recommend!

Victor tells me that he couldn’t come to my location. Instead he asks me to come to his place. A look on mapsme shows me it is a relatively short walk, so why not …

I take the walk and look around. Houses are mostly about 3 – 5 storeys high, have an ageing, sometimes run-down façade.

I see no shop windows as we know them in Oz. Later I realise that this is the norm in Khabarovsk, perhaps in all/most of Russia? There are some signs, none of which I can read, but once you walk through an unsuspecting door, often a large wooden one, you’ll find yourself in a shop, even a little shopping centre.

Arriving at Victor’s nominated spot, the same applies. To make it easy for me Victor is outside to greet me in his most-enthusiastic way. You must love the Russians! The building we enter looks rather like a block of flats. But after passing through one of these ‘normal looking/heavy wood’ doors, I find myself in a large hall!

I just walked in the Russian Roulette District Championship (only one survived 😉 ….
just kidding. It is indeed the Russian Billiard District Championship as I am standing in a Billiard Hall. A large one with nine tables, the large or ‘American’ ones.

Russian Billiard is different to what we know as Snooker, or American Billiards. In common is this: 15 white Balls, one red. The red is the ball to play off. The aim is to sink more balls into one of the six pockets then your opponent. So far just as ‘we’ know it, however, the pockets are much more narrow than in a Snooker or American Billiard table. A ball just fits through, so your aim needs to be super-exact. Moreover, you can play to sink a white ball or the red playing-ball into a pocket. No penalty then, rather a reward. After ‘potting’ the red, you can pick any white ball and remove from the table, adding it to your score. Victor’s young son, Sergje competes and henis only 14 years old. He has won all of his three rounds. A round consists of best-out-of-three-games.

I was made much welcome by everybody. I can tell you now thatRussian Billiard players have very strong handshakes, so I was conscious to ensure mine was of similar strength. One wouldn’t want to appear as a wimpy Aussie-tourist. I was asked many questions about my journey. A moment ago previously completely strange Russian men, showed me pictures of their families, fishing and hunting adventures. In turn I showed some of my own. I thoroughly enjoyed being in such a venue,what a difference to sight-seeing! I even had a go at Russian Billiard, but … it is very difficult to sink a ball. Potted two out of twenty. Later Victor was scheduled to be a judge at the competition, so I wandered back to my ‘hotel’ taking a circuitous route. I walked through a market, past nice-looking building, streets with names of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Pushkin, Tolstoy … I was walking among Russia’s Greats.

Back, I checked over the bike, re-tightened some nuts&bolts, topped up the oil and felt ready for tomorrow’s journey.

In the evening I went for a walk down Karla Marxia Avenue to the Amur River.

FullSizeRender 18

The mighty Amur river

There I meet Victor & Sergje for a promenade along the river.

I also got introduced to a number of other Khabarovsk bikers, as a place at the Armur is a bikers’ meeting point – all welcoming despite my language shortcomings. Google Translate is the app to use, at least I was able to hold some kind of ‘conversation’.

The Amur is huge! Winding its way through Khabarovsk with numerous side-arms. I was impressed. It also seem to carry plenty of fish (Mark F – this was a comment for you ;-), but to me most of them looked like a variety of Karp.

Less people on the road, but I still felt safe to walk home the ~ 3kms.



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