Russia is huge and my time is limited, but I decide to take a little detour of just under two thousand kilometers to Tuva. Coming from Irkutsk in slow-moving trucks it takes me a day to reach Krasnoyarsk. It’s not exactly the place I would expect an Egypt-inspired museum building or an Indian restaurant. I briefly escape into an exotic other world before making my way to the road leading south.
Kyzyl, the capital of the Tuva Republic, has a very distinct character. A railroad connection to the rest of Russia has been promised for years, but at the moment the only way to reach town is by airport or by the long road over the mountains and through hours of nothing but fields. I don’t see many ethnic Russians (most of them left after race riots in the early nineties) so it almost feels like I might be in another country.
The people are obviously proud of their singular history: many buildings in town serve to show off Tuva’s culture and it’s supposed geographic location at the center of Asia. Historically, many of it’s residents were nomadic and animists which means I ought to head out into the countryside, but time won’t allow it. I have to head on.