Russian Border: “They Will Arrest You” – Go East #2

Instead of jail, we went to the Banya

“Is that a drone? The Russians will arrest you”, the Ukrainian official told us. In fact, he made a suggestive gesture, no English-speaking border official in this part of Europe. “Two German motorcycle riders were already arrested by the Russians”. Ok, let’s go on. 

We’re at the Ukrainian – Russian border crossing point. We’re skipping the queue – the motorcyclists are allowed and even invited to do that, and we’re not comfortable about the border control with those two drones. My team-mate has a DJI Spark, and I have a Mavic Pro. We have some papers to fill up, it’s in English, and it’s easy to do it.

Then it’s time to open the luggage. “What’s that?” A drone. “And why is it so small?”, asks the Russian with a smile on his face. The Russians seem to be more kind than their neighbors. 

It takes us about an hour and a half to do the border crossing, and we’re on our way to Moscow. The road is clear ahead, the tarmac is superb, but we have a lot of rain: about ten rain-showers or so. It’s raining every 20 kilometers. The fuel price is low: about $0,72 for a liter. For example, the average price in the world is $1.59. Of course, it’s more expensive than Iran, but you must pay $2,00 for a liter in Norway and $1,91 in Italy. 

 We’re gonna spend the night in a village near Moscow. We have a friend that invited us to his Dacha – which is the term for a Russian countryside retreat house. The house is next to a river and surrounded by lush forest. I smell the fresh air and enjoy the silence – after 2,000 kilometers I felt the need to have a break. 

Vlad – our friend in Moscow – is waiting for us with some cold beer, a tasty home-made pie, and a hot Banya. The Banya is the traditional Russian sauna, and Vlad seems to be a specialist because he built a traditional Banya for himself. It’s a different building near the house, it’s made out by wood and it has a kind of relaxing room – the first one you enter when stepping into the building. It’s a cozy and warm place with some motorcycle wheels and handlebars on the walls. Vlad is a passionate rider. He traveled to Magadan, then he rode the BAM Road, and he was in Mongolia. Twice. He’s a KTM rider. 

After the relaxing room, I’m stepping in a kind of antechamber, where I have to leave my t-shirt and take a towel and a wool hat. “Yes, you need this wool hat to enter the sauna. It’s too hot, and it will burn your hair”. I step into the hot room – there are about 100 degrees Celsius in there. Vlad is explaining to me that every sauna needs to have a 120 temperature/humidity ratio. The Turkish hammam is not that hot, but it's more humid, the Finnish sauna is hotter than the Turkish one, and the Siberian sauna is the hottest of all – about 100 degrees Celsius. Vlad is telling me that there’s a floating sauna on the Baikal lake. You can book it for a night and go there with friends. You can jump from the hot sauna straight to the cold lake. We’re spending about 10 minutes talking about motorcycles, adventure destinations and places to go all over the world.

After 10 minutes at 100 degrees, we’re jumping in the cold-water pool. Three minutes in the pool, then some tea & talk, then repeat. It’s one of the most relaxing moments I had. The fatigue goes away, the mind becomes sharp and clear. And right after this therapy, I must go to sleep. There’s a long day tomorrow.   

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