Новая книга М.Привезенцева о путешествии вокруг
Каспийского моря

"Дервиши на мотоциклах"

Trips

The journey round the world
The journey round the world

For many people, a journey around the world is a childhood dream, which never comes true. People remember it and feel blue, looking at the map.
We have decided to hit the road now, without delaying for tomorrow what we can do today.
There exists a crucial moment in everyone’s life, when one understands that it is necessary to interrupt the circle of current circumstances and break free beyond the framework of everyday life for a while. The overpowering world requires looking at it with new eyes, opening up unprecedented spaces before us, and watching our daily routine and everyday life from the outside.

We are starting our way on motorcycles, and this is a special sign for us. Motorcycles are our old love, a natural means of transport and even a part of professional activity. After all, we, Total Flame, create bikers’ cigars, namely.
However, this is not the only thing. When riding a motorcycle, one is taking a deep breath, feeling every odor, even faint one, the whole body is feeling the fresh of the morning, the heat of the sun's rays, enjoying the sunrise and seeing off the sunset. The whole being is feeling what the planet Earth is and who the human being is on it.
Of all the motorcycles, we have chosen Harley. We could talk as much as we want about the legend and style, but the most honest answer to the question ‘Why?’ would be ‘We just love Harley Davidson’.

We do not want to prove anything to anyone, let alone setting any records. Each of us has accumulated questions to himself and to the world around us. Traveling should help us find answers to them. But the most important is that we hope to see the world with our own eyes without intermediaries, gloss or Photoshop, without ideology or censorship. To see things as they are, through traveler’s eyes, that is a disinterested and free man, is the greatest happiness on its own.

We expect to pass the roads of the five continents, and, first of all, we are captured not by sights or tourist attractions, although we will not avoid them, but by the earth and people on it – stern and hospitable, open and busy with their problems, sad and cheerful. New encounters and other people’s destinies are an integral part of life experience, and the journey is valuable because it extends not only spatial but also social framework.

We are glad to all like-minded people who love the road, appreciate freedom and gratefully welcome the dead wind. Life is short, ado it hard!

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The journey round the world-moto

95600

kilometers

226

days

5

continents

36

countries

Rally Rodina
Rally Rodina

In 1967, the USSR celebrated the 50th anniversary of the October revolution. One of the most important events of that year was ‘Rally Rodina’ – all-country motor ride, gathering several thousands of people, dozens of motor-teams from different parts of the country. The participants came to the city of Tselinograd (today Astana) and then, traveled to Leningrad. The biggest motorcade, 150 motorcycles, came from Voronezh. Total Flame founder’s grandfather, Vladimir Privezentsev, settled in Sakhalin after the war, was the head of the Sakhalin team and one of the participants in ‘Rally Rodina’ 1967. The records of that travel survived in his diaries. They started their way from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on four Urals accompanied by a car GAZ-21. Only two motorcycles reached Leningrad. The travel took two months. There is an eloquent record in the diary made by the grandfather after having come to Khabarovsk: ‘There is no road!!!’ To get to Lake Baikal they had to take train and put the engines on the platform: normally, participants were allowed doing that. It is true that, at that time, the road existed on the map only. The diary, however, is not the only thing that has survived. The grandfather was a documentary operator, the author of many stories about Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. He shot the film From the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic about the motor rally famous throughout the Soviet Union. The grandson has had the chance to find the film in Sakhalin archives. Having watched the black and white chronicle, he wanted to shoot a sequel. The idea of capturing the country as of 2015 on the road from Sakhalin to St. Petersburg and traveling from east to west on the iconic Russian motorcycle Ural was supported by friends and like-minded people. In 2014, they started preparing for the travel. They were six. The team members were: Maxim Privezentsev, Daniil Bondar, Alexander Nakhmanovich, Alexander Nikiforov, Boris Katz, and Ilya Kamashev. To make a film, they were to be accompanied by three more people of the film crew. At first, they had the idea of traveling on the retro-models of Urals, existing in 1967, but, fortunately, mechanics dissuaded them: ‘They will not reach the destination’. A couple of months before the start, the team prepared four absolutely new Urals for possible trouble on the way and colored them green, orange, white, and black. They renounced the idea of taking a Volga as an escort vehicle. After all, it seems unrealistic to find nowadays a GAZ-21, which would be able to pass the proposed route. So, they prepared DODGE RAM 2500 to alternate the drivers and film crew members. Not too patriotic, but reliable and practical. The motor rally start was set on June 1, 2015.

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Rally Rodina-moto

12000

kilometers

24

days

Tibet. The road along the Tibetan Plateau: Lhasa to Kathmandu.

‘It is important to be in harmony with the world and the universe, and above all – with yourself. What's the use of traveling to Tibet if Tibet is everywhere? If you are your own Tibet’. (Alfred Perles)

 

It is difficult to argue with the Austrian writer regarding the interpretation of happiness through harmony with oneself and with the surrounding world. Nevertheless, we went to Tibet, perhaps because we did not feel ourselves to be Tibet.

 

Route: Lhasa. Then, riding Royal Enfield motorcycles from Lhasa along the Tibetan Plateau back to Kathmandu via Gyantse (4,000 m), Shigatse (3,600 m), Tingri (4,300 m), and Zhangmu (2,300 m) to see other Tibetan towns and monasteries, drive over passes and cross the Great Himalaya Range.

 

Our first stop was near Yamdrok Lake, which is at an altitude of 4,488 m.

 

According to Tibetan mythology, the lake is nothing else but the incarnation of a goddess. Its name means ‘goddess’ turquoise earrings’. Interesting is the fact that there is a monastery on one of the islands of the lake, where the only female lama in Tibet used to live.

 

There is an interesting legend which says that Tibet will be desert when the water of Yamdrok Lake dries. I think it will not happen soon because there is much water in the lake (its length is 73 km, and the depth in some places reaches 60 meters). In addition, thawed water from nearby mountains will be able to feed the lake for a long time, preventing the impending catastrophe.

 

Having admired the turquoise water of Yamdrok Lake, we went to the place of our next stop and overnight accommodation – the village of Gyantse.

 

Since the territory of Tibet is high above sea level – between 4,000 and 8,000 meters, the climate there is not especially favorable to all living things. Almost no plant grows and, consequently, very few animal species live there. I do not take into account the meager livestock and poultry that the Tibetans breed. Even those animals are very difficult to feed in such conditions. It is inconceivable how those people survive there.

 

The worldwide fame of Tibetan monks’ super power, shrouded in mystery and mysticism, is attractive. Stories told by eyewitnesses about Tibetans, who can slow down or speed up the metabolic processes of their bodies, which allows them to melt thick layers of ice and snow or spend several days in the cold, are impressive. And runners who can run for several days without stopping? What can I say? Having spent a week in Tibet and watched the living conditions of those people, I can say that, without developing the super power, one cannot survive there.

 

Although the highlands are barren there, the views are majestic and beautiful, this is a harsh beauty.

 

The journey we did from Lhasa to Gyantse was about 220 km long. And here it is, Gyantse, which is spread before our eyes.

 

Located at an altitude of 3,977 meters, the village was one of the last locations undergoing the influence of China. That is why, if you want to feel the atmosphere of an authentic Tibetan village, you should go there.

 

The population of Gyantse is about 8 thousand people. The next picture is absolutely typical for the village.

 

At the time of my visit, there was no water supply in houses. Water was available only from standpipes in the streets. So, Tibetans often did their washing in wash basins outdoor. Look what a luxurious means of transport I caught on camera.

 

I also was very impressed by the material used for heating in local houses. Wood and coal are unaffordable luxury in this country. That is why they burn dry manure in their stoves, which is carefully piled at each house. I cannot show you a picture with a pile of this natural product, but the next picture is representative and gives quite a good idea of Tibetans’ life there.

 

Well, returning to spiritual….Just above the village, there is a fortress (dzong) on Zongshan Mountain.

 

The fortress is famous for the fact that, in 1904, it was the place where local citizens repelled British invaders. The brave Tibetans held the defenses for several days. But for the British, the capture of the fortress was only a question of time, because the difference in the equipment of the British army and the defenders of the fortress was huge.

In Gyantse, The Palcho Monastery, or Pelkor Chode, includes its Kumbum, a great stupa.

 

The structure in the form of a multi-stored stupa contains 108 rooms around. They say the Kumbum is number one of other stupas in Tibet due to the beautiful design and vast religious concept.

 

A few words about Tibetan passes... Tibetans decorate the highest point of the passes with flags, build stone pyramids and decorate them with skulls of yaks. Local beggars and merchants selling souvenirs are also there, waiting for tourists. Although they are not so numerous, it is still better to keep the doors of your car locked, or you would say goodbye to some of your valuables.

 

Shigatse translated from Tibetan means ‘fertile land’. Note that trees really grow there. And the town has quite modern outlines. It is the second largest town in Tibet with a population of about 80 thousand people. In general, the town is not interesting at all.

 

Nevertheless, one must visit Shigatse not only because the town is inevitable, being located on the way from Lhasa to Katmandu. Shigatse is home to the Tashilhunpo Monastery.

 

The monastery is the seat of the figure whose spiritual authority is second only to Dalai Lama – Panchen Lama. The monastery was partly destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. At that time, ‘Warriors-liberators’ destroyed almost all large monasteries in Tibet. When the indignation at the Tibetan lamas’ tyranny came to naught, the commercial skills of the Chinese people finally won. They hurried up and renovated the monasteries to attract tourists to Tibet.

 

One of the main temples in this huge complex is the temple of Maitreya. There is kept a 26-meter statue of the Buddha Maitreya, which required 279 kg of pure gold for its cover.

We had to spend the next day on the road. We were moving deliberately towards Everest, to the border with Nepal.

 

The closer to Nepal, the higher the plateau.

 

Always lifeless, the surrounding landscapes were changing every two or three hours.

 

Late in the afternoon, we came close to the Great Himalaya Range. Here it is, beautiful, it appeared behind the hills.

 

Chomolungma (Tibetan) or Everest – 8,848 meters – the highest peak of the Earth. Chomolungma means ‘the roof of the world’. There is one more name for this mountain, more exact – Sagarmatha, which means ‘Mother Earth’ in Nepalese.

How many hopes, victories, defeats and tragedies do these mountains keep. We could not force our gazes away from these snow-capped mountain peaks, like we could not continue the journey. The hotel offered to us by the tour operator to spend a night in Tingri was not in Tingri at all, but at 1.5 hours’ drive backwards. We were invited to either stay in one of the three guesthouses in Tingri, or return. We did not want to return at all, so we decided to overnight in the village. Tingri is a small village with a population of about 600 people located at an altitude of about 5,000 meters. In fact, this is one long street. The village is a well-known overnight stop before the trip to the base camp of Everest.

 

On the fourth day of our travel through the Tibetan Plateau, we had to cross the Great Himalaya Range and reach the border with Nepal. The morning was very sunny and our eyes met a stunning picture with mountain peaks wrapped in snow caps.

 

The Himalayas comprise 9 highest mountain peaks in the world. The length of the largest mountain range is about 2,400 km.

 

The Himalayas means ‘Abode of Snow’. This region is number three in the world for the amount of snow after Arctic and Antarctic.

 

The Tibetan Plateau is the place of origin for such rivers as the Ganges, Yangtze, Ing, and Mekong. It should be noted that the rivers are far older than the mountains, because they flowed there before the formation of the Himalayas. As the rocks rose, the rivers formed gorges in them.

 

Needless to say that the road along which we were driving was deserted. No living soul, either literally or figuratively.

 

But what a sudden change of the nature, and then of the whole ambience happened as soon as we crossed the last pass.

 

‘The Feast of life’ is the only language to say that. The heart filled with joy of the verdure all around. Frankly, I wanted to get out of the car and just walk. I wanted to walk barefoot on the green grass and touch green leaves to feel the breath of life, which was everywhere, even with my fingers.

 

Further, our way ran along one of the most beautiful Himalayan gorge. In the evening, we arrived to Zhangmu – a settlement at the border between Nepal and China. Next morning, Nepal welcomed us with open arms, which was very pleasant for us. That's how a week passed in Tibet. The week that showed us a completely different life. The week that gave us a deeper understanding of many things.

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95600

kilometers

226

days

5

continents

36

countries

Motorcycle race around the Caspian Sea
Motorcycle race around the Caspian Sea

Preface

 

‘Fate is in my hands and happiness is always with me’.

Timur

 

It’s evening, we have 9000 km flight from Moscow to Vladivostok behind us.

The Pacific Ocean.

 

The travel around the Caspian Sea starts tomorrow from Astrakhan. But for me, it has started with a trip to the Far East and will continue today with Vladivostok-Moscow-Astrakhan flight.

A trip to Vladik, as it is called be local citizens, was planned long time ago. The arrival on the eve of the rally start was optimal for me and the local tobacco-and-motorcycle community.

Of course, friends couldn’t help teasing me that I was going to Vladivostok for shooting a sequel of the film about the journey from Sakhalin to Leningrad, something like From the Pacific Ocean to the Caspian Sea. But it was only a good joke. I am here on tobacco business.

For people from Moscow time zone the late evening in Vladivostok means that it is not even early evening yet. At midnight, hospitable friends preferred a good sleep to my company, giving me the opportunity to smoke and work on the text.

Releasing a plume of thick and fragrant smoke, I am thinking over how it all began.

The diaries of Boris Semevsky, participant of the famous Moscow-Karakum-Moscow motor rally of 1933. Reading them may have had no effect. But something hooked me. What? I have no answer until now.

Perhaps, having passed the Caspian Circle, I will understand.

I had a different plan just a year ago. According to that plan, today, I would be in the south of Chile embarking on the plane flying to Antarctic, but there was some kind of magic in these diaries.

I was given the diaries by my friends from St. Petersburg who had watched the film This is All Mine produced with my participation. The film moved them so much that they decided to give me the diaries carefully kept in their family.

I said my ‘thank you’ and would have forgotten their present, but overnight alcohol and breaks for smoking did not let me fall asleep. Meanwhile, everyone was already asleep. A cigar, badly yellowed pages, a pen and a sheet of paper, because, contrary to my habit of writing comments on the margins – my dialogue with the author, I was taking notes on a blank sheet, perceiving the family heirloom as a delicacy test. I began to immerse myself in other man's memories...

‘The sands were created neither by Allah no by the nature. The sands were created by the humans... Hundreds of thousands of years ago, the Karakum Desert was covered with vegetation, no loose barkhan sands existed then. Why did the bloomy plain become a bare, terrible desert?

They invented various stupid legends: an evil khan, angry with the happy inhabitants of Karakum (at that time, the area had a different name), returned the course of the river, which seems to have passed there, and deprived them of fresh water; that is, the khan carried out such a large-scale irrigation project, which left behind everything done in this respect by the mankind, even at a high stage of technology development. Idle people also invented many other absurd legends...

Scientists, willingly or unwillingly, subjectively or objectively, expressed the interests and ideology of the Russian colonization that was interested in preserving then existing primitive system of the economy, which allowed obtaining cheap livestock materials and almost free of charge cotton from Central Asia. Therefore, they insisted on the fact that the economy existing in the desert was the only possibility under such natural conditions.

Man, resign yourself... These were the words said not only by officers and priests, but also by bourgeois scholars. Humble yourself, man, and submit to the harsh nature, to the all-powerful Allah, to the mighty white conqueror, to your own landowner or mullah...

Then, the primitive hard labor and nomadic economy survived: the economy, which resulted in the formation of terrible loose barkhans, survived’.

Boris Semevsky, Crossing the desert by cars.

 

  • Good morning, Max!
  • Morning!

 

It is 11:00 a.m. and my friends are messing around their Sunday Petersburg home. I have almost finished my reading.

 

  • My friends, I have had the idea to change my travel schedule. I am going to travel around the Caspian Sea. The Chilean Andes and Antarctic can wait.

 

It was a year ago. Today, Boris Semevsky’s grand-grand-daughter is 2 months old.

The smirk of fate: she was born a Russian citizen of the USA.

 

Persia and Central Asia. During this year, dissecting history and literature, I have learned so much new about you, which goes beyond well-known facts. With my eyes closed, I can make a route with kilometers from a village or a town to another one and tell a lot of stories about places just marked on the map.

 

I have had fellow travelers.

Maxim and Vasily, who showed their interest to the Caspian route.

Max has been traveling by motorcycle and making custom trikes for a long time. When I was taking my first steps in motor vagrancy, he had already covered the distance from Vladivostok to Moscow. As he is a professional in historical reconstructions, I'm sure he will have something to think over during this journey. I traveled with Max around Finland about 9 years ago and it was comfortable and interesting.

Vasily, motocross man and rally raid fan, this is for the third time that he will bear my company and work on a perfect video, as far as it is possible under the conditions of the ban on a cinematograph in that region.

 

Hope these will not be diaries of a travel across the shagreen skin of the Caspian land only, but also a journey through my fantasies, dreams and reflections, which, of course, is the subjective opinion of the author.

Inshallah...

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11000

kilometers

27

days

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