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By the Father River – Khabarovsk
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Sun 7 Jul – day 57  This was the start of week 9 of the trip, so just 44 days left before I headed back to the UK.

I unpacked and did my admin until 01:15hrs then got into a nice soft double bed and went to sleep almost immediately.  This was so much better than being in a top bunk on a rattle-trap of a train.

I awoke at 06:00hrs, 07:00hrs, and then finally 08:15hrs when I got up and sorted out my kit before showering and heading down to breakfast.  I just had coffee and toast.

Having packed my day sac I went down to reception to collect my passport and pay for the late checkout and then went out for a walk.

I was wearing my largest shirt and the Keo beanie hat which I got when I went on a trip around the brewery in Limassol Cyprus in 1984, more years ago than I care to remember.  It was already blisteringly hot and with little or no breeze, so it will interesting to see how long my two litres of fluid last me.

Out of the hotel, turned right and walked up the hill and then right again onto Ul Muravyova which was one of the main streets through the city; there was certainly a lot of traffic about for a Sunday morning.  The road sloped gently down towards the cathedral, so it was an easy stroll, but more importantly it will not be too much of a drag upon my return

Lots of families were out for a Sunday morning stroll and when I got to the Assumption Cathedral which was rebuilt in 2001, I sat down and unzipped the bottom portions of my trousers legs; instant relief as the breeze blew around my bared skin.

The war memorial was in the square that overlooked river and Russians consider the Amur to be the countries Father River with the Volga being the Mother River.

Strangely for a Russian city the authorities had created a tiered city park on the escarpment above the river.  Broad steps made the descent down to the promenade very easy; the water front was block paved and there was a stretch of beach with sand in some places and shingle in others.

This stretch of the Amur River suffered from heavy pollution when a chemical works near Hardin in China blew up in 2005 and discharged 100 tons of toxins into the Songhua River which was a tributary of the Amur, so eventually the poison worked its way downstream affecting everything in its path.

The guidebooks advised that swimming was very risky, but some people had braved the waters with crowds more sunbathing on the beach.

The river was a major transport route and it was possible to take a hydrofoil downstream Komsomolsk-na-Amure which is a city on the Baikalo-Amurskaya Magistral or BAM railway line as it better know and which is often referred to as the other Trans-Sib route as it runs to the north of the traditional route.

Being a Sunday there was just a tug on the move and the cranes were immobile.

The biggest activity on the river today were the trip boats which were bow on to the beach; one had its ramp down and people were boarding so I joined the queue and paid R300 for an hour’s trip.  Even though the boat was pretty full I managed to find to find a good spot on the outside lower deck from where I could take photos.

After we had departed the view to the rear showed just how attractive this area of the waterfront was.  We went downstream first so the city was on the starboard (east) side; some of the buildings at the northern end of the promenade were still to be upgraded.  After the end of the promenade metal huts were used as boat sheds and there was the occasional fisherman trying his luck; given the ongoing pollution issues, it would be a brave person that eats anything caught here.

 

There were a number of very posh looking houses between the city and the bridge and just like along the River Thames and other UK rivers I imagine that a premium had to be paid.

We went as far as the Amur River bridge which was a massive structure and when we turned back I went inside as it was air-conditioned.  The west back was just reeds and bushes as it was the flood plain; I updated the blog while trying not to let the noisy children distract me.

Further upstream the polluting power station was very visible.

Back to the start point and we had to wait a few minutes until the next boat had left before the captain put the ship’s bow up on to the beach and the crew let down the gangway.  Everyone off and for once there was very little pushing and shoving.

The southern (upstream) end of the promenade near the river station where the hydrofoils were moored was more developed (and modern) than the other end where the sports stadium, tennis courts and ice rink were located.  There was also a small fun-fair located amongst the trees which gave some shade from the burning sun.

I walked up the steps to the top of the escarpment where a statue of Count Nikolai Muravyova was located; he was the area’s military governor when the city was founded in 1858.

There was a good view of the promenade and beach from this high point.

I made my way back to the hotel as I needed a snooze and wanted to get away from the heat as it was very hot, over 34° C.

The lady on reception told me that the taxi firm had called and would pick me up at 20:00hrs and that was much better than the 18:30hrs originally stated.

Back in my room I stripped off as my shirt was absolutely soaking and having dried off laid on the bed and dropped to sleep very quickly.  I was obviously still catching up for the two nights on the top berth.