The next proper blog post will have to wait. I have the time to write, whiling away the hours until tonight’s train to Novosibirsk from here in Biysk. But unable to find a quiet place to form coherent thought, the writing will have to wait.

Noise everywhere. I’m sure Russians aren’t hard of hearing, they certainly don’t speak like it. But they do like their music and TV. Actually, I’m not sure they do. But what they don’t seem comfortable with is quiet. Whole families pack up from the city and migrate to the beautiful, tranquil Russian Altai for weeks of camping, getting back to nature with just tent, portable banya, fishing rods and a grassy place beside any of the wonderful rivers. Sounds great. But then they park their smart 4x4s or old rusting Soviet-era cars (depending on their wealth) with the doors and boot wide open playing the stereo at full volume with some trashy Euro-pop or pounding dance beats blaring out. It is hideous. Totally out of place. But then, so are the polished high heel shoes that the women all wear, everywhere. Loud techno music and killer heels have their time and place (although neither are for me), don’t get me wrong. But the remote, rugged, rural Russian Altai is not one of them.

I’m now sat in a cafe, the only customer, trying to ignore the cartoons from the TV coming from the hotel next door and the dance music coming from the restaurant bar in the room opposite. Sigh. Aren’t I getting a grumpy old woman!

So, here are some photos from the couple of days ride down the Chuysky Trakt from the border to Aktash through the Russian Altai. It really is a stunningly beautiful road, tarmac too so I could actually look at the surrounding scenery and not at the rocks to avoids riding into… The photos don’t really do the place justice, but it’s definitely one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ridden. A different view with every bend – wide open golden valleys, deep green forested hillsides and red rock cliff faces, distant snow-capped mountain ranges behind rickety wooden home villages, hills rising and falling and rivers rushing and gushing and churning blue and green and white, flowers blooming and poplar trees rustling and the road ever winding on down through scattered shade and the sun’s burning hot rays where birds soar in the sky and horses graze… yeah, it was pretty cool!