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Krasnoyarsk: Who Knew?

We pulled ourselves out of the starchy comfort of our ржд sheets, stuffed our things back into our packs, grabbed the Speed TRs from the overhead rack where they had been stored, and headed out into Krasoyarsk.

Our first thought, after noticing the lovely imperial Russian style of the trainstation was: Holy Cow! It was cold, here!

We needed those leather Jackets pronto. Huffing and puffing huge clouds of condensation and wearing most of our clothes, we rode hard towards the center of town, and the Hotel Sevir (which means the Hotel North). We found the place in short order and checked in, throwing down our things and taking a moment to appreciate those little touches that separate one cheap Russian flophouse from the next.

There would be no use in lounging around the internet-less hotel room not wheeling, so we climbed on the Speed TRs, and headed out into the city.

Breakfast and coffee seemed like an obvious first move, so we made them our primary goal. It took some time, though, before we settled on a place. This was mostly due to the fact that the majority of restaurants in Russia, you see, are closed in the mornings, presumably since one is expected to have a mother or wife that is making that meal for you. So we wheeled on past tons of closed places, huge Soviet and imperial buildings, all the way down to the shores of the Yenisei River.

We did eventually find a place to eat, though. It was another hotel, in fact, and we were essentially buying into their included breakfast program.

We chose the English breakfast, which ended up being a rather nutty bowl of porridge and a couple of peppered eggs. Lovely.

We moved on from there, heading downstream, pedaling along with the river on a system of dedicated paved trails.

Perhaps our assumptions that Siberia would not be a place were wheeling was popular were misguided.  We couldn’t help, as we pedaled down recently repaved roads closed to cars, that this road might just be a pro-wheeling Krasnoyarsk initiative.

About the time that we were passing this fantastic no parking sign,

we spotted a bridge leading across into a gigantic park that nestled up alongside the city, on the opposite side of the Yenesei. The park proved to be even more of a wheeling destination, with kilometers and kilometers of paved bikeways.

Well, we couldn’t resist, so we just kept going, on out of the city and deep onto the park.  But all good things must end, and in a spectacular pile of gravel that could only say “well the budget ran dry” the paved path ended. So we turned around and wheeled back into the city.

Not long after we’d re-entered the fray, Scott spotted some Chinese characters on the side of a nearby building. With all intentions to investigate further, we headed over to what turned out to be a Chinese imports market. The market was full of, surprisingly enough, Chinese people. And suddenly, after we locked our bikes to a Uyghur snack cart (big ups Uyghur’s!), for the only time on the entire trip so far, the locals were speaking both Scott’s and my foreign languages.

With both Russian and Chinese on our side, we felt had immense bargaining power. So we headed in and immediately began trying on leather jackets, or perhaps I must more accurately describe them as imitation leather jackets.

Realizing we’d digested all the “English Breakfast,” we headed to the back of the market where there was a very pleasant lady serving up Russian-Chinese food from large blue plastic tubs.

We ordered two bowls, which came with a pile of white rice and a little of each kind of Chinese food, topped with a serving of Russian cabbage salad. While not particularly Chinese in flavor, they were quite tasty and the bill for both of us was less than 1 USD.

That market was great, but we were unable to find exactly the right leather Jackets. We were getting close, though, and we headed from there towards Krasnoyarsk’s central market.

When we got there, we realized we’d definitely come to the right place. The market was more than 60% coats, and the vast majority of those were at least in the style of leather or fur. So we locked the bikes to the railing of a nearby canal and headed in.

Some of the lady’s coats in this market were truly something to write home about, with wild colors, multiple types of fur, huge colors and sashes, and giant gold clasps, this place was all about load winter ware.

Not far into our investigations, we found Scott the perfect jacket, a black leather job that fit his torso like a glove. We haggled for a while with the lady, and eventually pulled the trigger. As we were leaving, we were investigating the similarly gigantic selection of fur and leather hats, when one of the hat salespeople came over to us. They were not interested in selling us a fur hat, though, they just wanted us to try some of the more ridiculous ones on and take a few pictures. Listen up viral web marketing teams, this is the way to do it.

Not long after that we found the perfect jacket for me as well, and called the entire mission a success.

Feeling more savage and raw than ever before, we climbed back on the cycles for a little new leather jackets wheeling.

We wheeled on into a residential neighborhood where we lingered for a bit scrutinizing a South East Asian elephant topiary and fake palm tree exhibit thing that had been erected in the middle of a divided highway, and then wheeled on back towards the center of the city, sweating hard in the leather jackets, but refusing to take them off.

We stopped next when we spotted a large honey market. We were of course seduced by the “black living honey” and could not resist buying a small tub to take back with us. It ended up being a very delicious, though clotted with pollen and wax. I am assuming here that the pollen and wax were features and not bugs.

From the honey market, we wheeled on, past this most interesting bright red obelisk in the center of town (more information about this is welcomed in the comments), and on home to eat a little more honey.

Strolling in search of a restaurant, we found that the people of Krasnoyarsk organize themselves for some latin dancing on the street every once in a while.  The spectacle attracted many an onlooker.

We went that evening to a Pelmyni restaurant, and ordered who huge bowls of boiled Russian dumplings to dip in sour cream.

With stomachs full of Pelmini, we headed over to a café which we knew to have wifi. It was a coffee place by the name of “Traveler’s.” Being travelers ourselves, we thought it might fit.

So we sat down and began working. That was when we were introduced to one of the lesser know features of Siberia: the forward women. Not only had we been noticing that the women here were absolutely gorgeous, but they were coming up to us and asking to talk. Such behavior was completely unprecedented, and frankly we did not know what to do.

Scott had a call with a mentor of his, and I was working on correspondence for you dear reader when two gorgeous girls came over and began feigning a need to use my computers to check something “really quick,” which rolled into a conversation. The conversation went on for an hour or so at the end of which they asked us if we’d like to go with them to a night club called “Coloradsky Papa.” The night club had been actually recommended to us by the Siberian Bureau, but for one reason or another, we decided to decline the offer, perhaps idiotically.

Meanwhile, while I was turning down two beautiful women who wanted to go out dancing on a Thursday night, Scott was receiving unsolicited messages from other women complimenting his mustache.

As we walked home that night from the café, we looked at each other…

“Krasnoyarsk, eh?”

“Agreed, brother. Who knew?”


  1. Helen | December 29th, 2010 | 1:54 pm

    The big red obelisk: it is some Soviet Art marking Krasnoyarsk’s Red Square. And Lenin! So young! And young October is ahead!

  2. Alex | December 29th, 2010 | 2:26 pm

    I see you’ve ignored my Russian translation of Asia Wheeling and gone with ‘Na’. My heart will somehow go on.

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