Thursday, 31 October 2013

Day 171 - Inya to Nacnyn on Lake Teletskoe road - Tues 13 Aug

Day 171 - Inya to Nacnyn on Lake Teletskoe road - Tues 13 Aug
Farewelled our fast flowing (and rising!) Chuya River. Noted extensive dieback, a fungal infestation in soil (is that why they are so keen on spraying vehicle tyres?) or is it syrex wasp (but surely they’d more likely be individual trees than the big patches we are seeing??). Driving through clouds over road and stopping on top in shivering cold drizzle – recent email conversations with Maxwells suddenly relevant to fog lights for Europe next year, and the need to take on board wet weather shell tops and bottoms – had to laugh at ourselves having the conversation when Russians outside are dressed for ‘high summer’ in singlets or nothing on top at all! 

Markets sell Altai face necklets which protect from spirits, and Babushka dolls – hadn’t realised previously they are modelled on real live Babushka shaped and coloured grannies everywhere! And what are these dome or teepee roofed structures we are seeing in the yards of log houses? (extra accommodation? smokehouses? saunas? winter storage eg potatoes/ hay?)  

The larch and silver beech trees are so striking, leaves changing colour, and starting to fall. We stopped several times in vain at small towns to try to locate the outdoor Altai culture museum Edo and Joanne told us about last night. Did see a piles of dead cream-coloured moths lining roofs and streets of towns under street lights – guess they flock like Bogong moths in Australia. Pigs snuffling in mud, undersides dark with wet earth. Discussed ‘where to from here?’ Miles is doing 40 days in Russia through to mid Sept-ish, maybe we and Pardeys do Russian catch up once back from Kazakhstan by 3rd week in Sept, and into Ukraine together (including days in Rostov to get Ukraine visa).
Stopped at highest point on Chuysky Trakt to browse souvenir markets/stalls. Had thin meat in pastry packet, like kushers but less oily, more tasty. Found that prices are not so cheap in Russia. Found answer to question re dome outbuilding, its an outdoor kitchen eg for preserving - can open top segmented pieces individually to manage heat control. Surprised to see cats in the towns again, after a total absence in Mongolia. Plenty of wildflowers in fields, tall spikes of yellow, pink and purple.

Have seen a lot more fishing since entering Russia, esp in cold fast flowing streams. Tall trees starting to turn autumn colours. Rain more serious in early afternoon. Graffiti on rocks and structures also surprising, I would not have thought the population felt themselves free to use this form of expression in such a recent socialist regime. And wow, a road grader! Houses with open upstairs balconies for drying clothes out of rain. Many asbestos roofs - are they being replaced by the bright coloured tin sheets?? 

Rubber-rafting very popular on these powerful rivers. Suddenly hit the tourist strip - hotels, resorts, buses, attractions - very developed compared to where we've just come from. Some rare apple trees full of small bright red fruit. Mushrooms freshly harvested. Bright coloured bee boxes, next to roadside stalls selling honey, and a variety of fermented honey and mead drinks. Hairy Mammoth stalls popular because of actual ones found frozen in Siberia. Drove into Gorno-Altaisk, found it not as featureless as described by Lonely Planet, some very pretty wooden churches. 

Got our fuel, water and food, then turned off to Lake Teletskoe , but won’t make it tonight. Every inch of garden used in summer, healthy vegetables and bright flowers. Small logging enterprises. Braved a muddy and swollen stream to get off road to a campsite outskirts of Nacnyn - mosquitoes a pest but didn't stop a campfire (wet wood burnt OK after doused with petrol!) BoyRob broke open the whiskey he bought duty free in Singapore to celebrate his retirement. The merry evening was moved under the awning when the rain recommenced. 

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