Sunday, 24 November 2013

Day 175 - from Mamontovo to border crossing into Kazakhstan (Kulunda Russia to Sharbatke Kazakhstan)- Sat 17 Aug

Day 175 - from Mamontovo to border crossing into Kazakhstan (Kulunda Russia to Sharbatke Kazakhstan)-  Sat 17 Aug
Overcast and cool, but at least rain seems gone for now. Sad to report still no bears... 
Non- refrigerated (until opened!) margarine has been a success, but thankfully only one more container of bland non-refrigerated yogurt to get through. Numerous wheat fields of enormous lengths. Wheat symbols/icons for many towns. Silo heads/funnels covered (from rain presumably). Sunflowers in full bloom or dying off, oil is probably their market rather than seeds, although they are a popular snack in Russia. 

Jarring bouncy roads to border even the newly bitumen one (do they lay bitumen over furrows??) Took dirt road rather than three sides of bitumen - corrugations were preferable! At this rate we’ll probably find border closed for lunch when we arrive. From reading JnJs blog, it appears there are no Customs on these small border posts, so we have decided to take our carnet documents into immigration to see whether they will stamp them - and there will at least be some record of importing our vehicles. We will also ensure we have third party insurance to offset some of the risk. Shopped, lunch in Kulunda but couldn’t exchange currency, then to border by 2.15pm. 3rd party insurance shack closed Saturday, so got from Dodgy Bros on side of road in their car (!!) two weeks for 700R. 1hr 20mins total through border, 20 mins sitting outside Russian gate waiting our turn to enter for processing. The usual lines of buses, with locals waiting, and vehicles in poor repair. Many thanks to Jude for her blog notes, helped streamline the process (will add elsewhere) “Welcome to Kazakstan”!

Good bitumen to Sharbatke, then became potholed. Open sown grasslands, edged by scrubby trees, little traffic, no people or animals. Warned of radar-police as approached Malaby by vehicles flashing lights - same world over. Passed several cars all decked out for wedding - gilt decor, hot pink flowers. Many cars behind with streamers or ribbons draped over their bonnets. Magpie coloured /sized birds with long iridescent dark green tails, do a lazy one-legged hop off roads, low stick-nests in bare leafed scrubby trees. And, ah, a pretty stand of tall silver birch before coming up on yukky Pavlodar, coal fired power station, mullok dumps/ tailings, 7 chimneys pouring out smoke. 

Split up with others to explore bustling town, and walk along riverbank, fun place for families. 


Restaurants booked for weddings, lots of festive vehicles driving the gorgeously attired guests around streets tooting horns, popping out of skylights, yelling out windows. Photographers posing the brides and grooms for shots. Happy Saturday night!
Drove on, stopped at shaslick stalls with small attached pubs for dinner, half way through our delicious roast pork and onion, three drunk guys from the next table came and sat down and tried to make conversation. We understood the mime "I love shaslick" but didn't know if they wanted us "tourist" to buy for them. The waitress came up with folded bread they'd ordered and waited to be paid, we said "no, no", they tried to put on our plate so we didn't know if they were buying for us, so "no, no" again. A guy (in a full brown velvet suit) from another table came to tell them to leave us alone (we were eating much faster by this time!) but they yelled at him to go (we ate faster still), then the guy from the shaslick stall came and had a quiet word. We grabbed our drinks and walked across road to our truck, he followed us over and wanted an explanation about our journey on the map (he knew Canberra and insisted we came from there) then asked for "a present". BoyRob told him we'd given all our Australian toys to children along way, and hurriedly joined me in the cabin to "get out of Dodge"! Pavlodar on a Saturday night didn't seem the best place to make camp. Approx 16km out we took a side turning into a field behind a scrubby depression, where we remained undisturbed for the rest of the evening.

Days 173 and 174 - Lake Teletskoe to Bisyk and then Mamontobo - Thurs 15 and Fri 16 Aug

Days 173 and 174 - Lake Teletskoe to Bisyk and then Mamontobo - Thurs 15 and Fri 16 Aug
Thurs: Raining fairly constantly. GirlRob sneezing every time went outdoors. Washing clothes, self, hair and truck before filling up with river water. Left early arvo, took road from Lake, turned off to Turachuk and then Bisyk. Guy and Cheryl had gone back to Gorno-Altaisk earlier to line up mechanic to pull apart shockies and replace parts with his spare kit. Depending on finding mechanic, they will meet us in Bisyk or Barnaul. Windstorm of yellow leaves from birch trees - mid Autumn here already. Red trunks of pines glistening wet. Followed river a considerable distance, sadly our bitumen road disappeared not far NW of Turachuk, and kph dropped accordingly. Within half an hour clean Ozzie was totally covered in mud splatters. In between towns old bitumen road remained in poor condition. 

Drizzly overcast also remained. Pine and birch forest gave way to planted fields. Yellow grasses and flowering cereals ready to harvest. Light traffic, orange Kamaz trucks and huge bales of soggy hay in lopsided loads. Uneventful drive, even police barricade waved us through - thank goodness for wildflowers along roadside stops. All potential campsites very muddy, finally found flat raised ground with flattened grass off "highway" next to cattle troughs -and then the inevitable mosquitoes found us. 

Undaunted, the boys lit a fire thanks to a handy broken branch, and downed a cold beer whilst the mince sauce and pasta simmered. Politics and world ideologies dominated the conversation leading up to lights out...

Fri: Overcast. Farmer pulled up at camp in old red fire wagon - did he come to put out our wispy campfire?? No, wanted to see if we needed help to get out of boggy ground! Met Guy in Bisyk, no luck re shockie, they'll do without. Morning tea in pub with log furniture, stuffed boars head on wall. So many fields of sunflowers.

Parting company with Miles south of Barnaul whilst we do Kazakhstan with Guy. Gave Marina videos of Roadie crossing suspension bridge. She wrote for us in Russian - "our concurrent passports are legal". Drove into haze (pollution? smoke?) SthEast to Alejsk, then east on much bumpier (but still bitumen) road. Eye catching advert for screws on hardware store. 

Sown fields as far as eye can see - of grasses, wheat, cereals or sunflowers. Enormous numbers of crows/ravens. Pulled off road onto track into red-trunked pine forest at Mamontovo for camp. Heavily populated with mosquitoes, shortened Guy and Cheryl's walk.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Day 172 – Nacnyn to Lake Teletskoe - Wed 14 Aug

Day 172 – Nacnyn to Lake Teletskoe -  Wed 14 Aug
Drippy morning with mist, more talk of making side walls to attach to annexe and underskirt to ensure can still cook and sit outside in most weather conditions. So novel to see crews upgrading bitumen road to Lake, following white water river.  We note the "Russian scowl", people are not quick to smile, but can be voluble/ talkative once you initiate conversation. 


Drove up side of lake to town (noting "the pig who would be a cow") and had lunch at cafĂ© before the 6 of us took a boat ride on Lake Teletskoe. Stopped at tranquil rock pool created by meteorite falling on cliff above and shattering/scattering boulders into rocks which fell along the shoreline. 

Admired walls of stone marble, the protection from harvesting the reason much of the Lake has now been UNESCO heritage listed. Our teenage speedboat driver raced another boat to line us up for a view of a waterfall in a crevice, then dropped us at a shingle beach for the 700metre walk to a larger waterfall which shot out at an angle to the pool below. Impressive Pinus Sylvestri trees. Also had to admire the Russian fixation with camouflage clothing....

The thunderstorm that had been following our passage up the lake finally opened up, so we ate blueberry crepes and herb tea under cover of stalls. GirlRob chatted to a young girl on a souvenir stall, who said she came out to the stalls at the beginning of the tourist season, slept on a narrow cot in the rear of the stall and only went home at the end of the season, constituting her total years income. "No phone! No internet!" she said, proud of her achievement. Rode the water corrugations (wakes of other boats) coming down hard with an oomph on bottoms. 

Once on dry (??) land, the Pardeys spotted a hotel with restaurant and wifi, so given the continuing drizzle, and having come to the end of the road around the part of the Lake that was open, we gladly retreated to their facilities. The fellows plotted the rest of the trip - Ozzie and Bee through Kazakhstan, and Roadie remaining in Marina’s home territory, reuniting before entering the Ukraine. Ate a delicious and inexpensive meal including salmon, quail and caviar before moving back to the neck of the Lake for a camp under silver birch trees. GirlRob allergic to something outdoors, itchy eyes, runny nose, facial swelling, headache, so went straight to bed to sleep it off.