If there were a museum of the great roads of the world, the Sibirskii Trakt would deserve its own exhibit, along with the Via Appia and the Silk Road and old U.S. Route 66.
In America, we love roads. To be “on the road” is to be happy and alive and free. Whatever lonesomeness the road implies is also a blankness that soon will be filled with possibility. A road leading to the horizon almost always signifies a hopeful vista for Americas. “Riding off into the sunset” has always been our happy ending. But I could find no happy-ending vista here, only the opposite. This had also been called the Convicts’ Road or the Exiles’ Road. Not only was it long and lonesome but it ran permanently in the wrong direction, from the exiles’ point of view. Longing and melancholy seem to have worked themselves into the very soil; the old road and the land around it seemed downcast, as if they’d had their feelings hurt by how much the people passing by did not want to be here.”—Ian Frazier, A Reporter At Large: Travels in Siberia – I: The Ultimate Road Trip, in the New Yorker