Russian Border Guard: Speak Russian?
Russian Guard: Oh Shit….
Russia is gonna be an experience.
We stopped just after the border as we needed fuel and Tony needed a toilet stop. A long low rumble came from Tony’s direction. Whatever Tony ate last night, it was fighting its way back out. And was winning.
The sound finally revealed itself. With child like delight and suprise (Ok…I squealed) we watched a large pack of horses break out of the nearby tree line and trot across the road just in front if us.
The clatter of their hooves filling evening air. Silhoutted against clouds of dust and the glow of the setting sun, they were followed by a single horseman as he lead them into the nearby town.
Over 7,000 miles of amazing sights and we still manage to be surprised or those petrol fumes really got to me.
The Russian roads are impressive…almost perfect but so boring they should be beige, have 2.3 children and drive a Volvo estate.
We almost miss the madness of the ‘Stan roads. The Panda is purring along…with the odd fart thrown in…just to keep us on our toes.
Russian road making is simple. They just pick two points on a map, draw a straight line between them and pave it, no matter what ow who is in the way.
At one stage we even drove through the back of a small family home. Popular Russian reality show, Love Gulag, was on the tele.
Speaking of driving….the three of us have been together 18 days and still havent killed each other. Although Hew did try…once.
Driving in one hour blocks os controlled by a kitchen timer. This gives everyone two hours off to catch a nap or just enjoy looking out at whatever country we are driving through. Hew window licking can be annoying but it keeps him quiet.
There has been some bonding through casual racial vilification of the token Aussie, laughing at Hew’s Kazakh hair cut for his Grinder profile pic or finding ourselves destroying a Whitney Houston song in unison.
We may need to get our man cards reussied after this trip.
The stench in the car is another matter. It is now so bad, border guards keep asking where the dead body is. This car may need an Exorsism when it’s done.
We arrived late into the industrial town of Barnaul, founded on a thriving copper industry. The metal, not the blokes in uniforms.
A sprawling soviet city…it had a lovely personality. And some truly weird bars.
In one such bar, a large local was deep into a second bottle of vodka when, mid meal, he ripped off his t-shirt and got one of his three “lady friends” to rub his ample, sweaty belly.
I wasn’t sure to be shocked or applaude. They kindly acknowledged my applause.
Next morning, we headed South into more rural land.
Farm life here must be pretty rough as suicidal goats, cows and horses think nothing of stepping into speeding traffic without warning. The cows could have at least used their horns! (Sorry…Hew made me put that in)
We headed south through Siberia to Mongolia and went via the Altai Mountain’s.
God must have had a cracker of a day when made this place. It was breathtaking.
Towering snow capped peaks lay in the distance, home to the snow leopard. Grass flood plains rolled along beside us, snaked with mirror smooth rivers.
Severe Tourist Tourettes had kicked in as we swore at every corner with how beautiful it was. We may actually run out of swear words by the end of the trip.
We even stopped to watch an eagle ride thermals over a wide thundering river. I think I peed my pants…and maybe Tony’s.
The wild flora and fauna are pretty cool. Except for these local squirrel things called Marmots. They are smartasses.
They dart out across the road at the last minute and while you are swerving to avoid the little buggers, they jump into the scrub, laughing as they flip you a finger.
We did hit one, but it took three goes and a lot of bush driving.
As before, the Russians do good roads, which mean good times (speedy…not jiggy jiggy) so there is a small hope I have time to make it all the way to UB.
This means driving the Panda like we stole it.
Eastward tomorrow…but how far?
The Fiat of fate will decide….