Dallas-Kalevala is a journey from todays existance back to the origines of the people living between Finland and Hokkaido, Japan. It is also a personal journey to feel the genetic memory in places where people have always been moving between the east and the west.
Our journey started in Helsinki Finland and ended in Obihiro Hokkaido Japan. The trip was made by car - Land Rover Defender. We followed roughly the borderline between the taiga and the tundra, between the village-people and the nomads. This is the climate area where the northern civilizations exist.
We photgraphed grandmothers, collected old axes and recorded local radio. Each place where we stopped we repeted the same prosedure - day after day.
Daily routines included finding diesel, making documentation, finding food, navigating, asking for the road, driving and setting up camp in safe locations. We slept in the nature and avoided big cities. When the road stopped we got diesel from road construction workers of the future Amur highway or from timber machines. This fuel was for free or exchanged to Finnish beer or conservated food.
12.000 km included good roads with relatively high speed, bad road on which we could keep quite normal speed but personal cars were crawling, tracks suitable only for military trucks and jeeps, road construction beds in different states of process and off road to some extreme nastiness with mud, rivercrossings, wet land, dust and dirt etc. Our Defender was equipped with a snorkel, winch and bottom armor. We crossed 10 bigger rivers and many more smaller ones. The car got stucked several times and was dragged onwards with the winch. We carried with us 140 litres of spare diesel in canisters. Between Cita and Simanovsk there is no roads shown on map. This distance is about 1000 km.
Near Erofej Pavlovic some 40 km north of Chinese border and river Amur the journey faced its hardest difficulties. We tried to approach Erofej Pavlovic from Amazar but got stucked in an endless wet marshland. The clouds were promising heavy rain which would mean us spending the rest of the year in the mud. Step by step we got back from the marsh with winching and some unconventional methods of subconscious driving. Just before the rain which made the whole marsh to a floting field of muddy porrige. We managed to go round the wetlands and found againg the construction site of the future highway. No bridges of course and the track was cut by the deep river Urka. Two of the big military 6 x 6 wheel drive Kamaz trucks had tried to cross it and the wrecks stood in the middle of the deep river together with a huge road construction machine that had tried to come to help them. The river was too bad. No chance to cross it and we had to turn back.
Luckily we were not alone with the problem. Vasili and Sergei from Sahalin needed to get their Kamaz also to the other side of the river and together with them we managed to organize us an own train in Amazar on which the vehicles were mounted. It took us four days with the train to cross the river. Due to Russian railroad logistics we had to travel back to Mogocha to be connected to a bigger train, then again to Amazar and finally over the river to Erofej Pavlovic and further to Skovorodino where we got the car of the platform.
We carried with us conserved food and Finnish beer to celebrate important moments. Fresh fish from the rivers and shashlik brought occasional luxury to the daily life. Our medical pack included surgery eguippement, oxygen, anti-shock liquides, antibiotics and other drugs. We had contact with doctors from EMA -group (Emergency Medical Assistace) every third day with a satellite telephone to report our location and state of fysical and mental health. In case of trouble we could contact the EMA doctors to get on-line medical assistance, which was luckily not needed. Also evacuation procedures were prepaired.
We know it is possible to go from Finland to Japan on ground. It has always been possible. What was important to realize was how natural it has been for the people to move east-west wise. One grandmother in Burjatia was half Ukrainan half Chinese. One grandmother in Sahalin was born in the Finnish border in Karelia and spoke Karelian Finnish. The grandmother in Japan was born in Sahalin. In the middle of Siberia we could see Tatar villages. In Irkutsk there is a lively Chinese market. From Ural to east every modern car is a second hand vehicle imported from Japan. Asia as we see it starts in Amur, not in Ural as we have been told. Siberia is not Europe and not Asia. Everywhere in this nordic borderline we could feel home. We could understand the logics of the nature and how man is facing his surroundings. Birch tree, kuckoo and the same stars followed us all the way. Japanese turist is a legend. For us now you are just the next door neighbour.
The work was done in co-operation with: DEMETER, Lapin Kulta, Lohjan Laatuautot, Off Road Center, Land Rover Finland, Land Rover Japan, EMA -group, Benefon ESC!, Sonera, Haglöfs, Lundén Foods and Mr. Niklas Nordblad (camera).