The radiation goes a long way

Trip Start Mar 12, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Where I stayed
Semey Hotel

Flag of Kazakhstan  ,
Friday, April 15, 2011

Spent the morning giving the car a going over. Checked the gearbox (topped it up) axle oil (OK) greased all points, did everything that was required for a 5000 mile service on an elderly car. We were interrupted by the hotel people calling us in for breakfast. Apparently in Asia, the time of breakfast is set by the staff, not the guests.

Anyway, got on the road around 11.30 and stopped off to fill up with petrol. The forecourt staff pointed out that there was oil under the car, so we investigated and found that it was coming from the oil filter, where the pressure gauge measures. So tightened that up at great effort on Martins part. I just watched form above!

Eventually got on the road again about 12.30.

Stopped for lunch at a cafe, where there were a load of truckers - always a good sign? Tried to oredr Borsch, which some of the drivers were eating, but told no. Not sure why not!. Good crowd, very friendly.

Heading towards Semey, which is our launching point for Russia mark 1. The scenery started off being its usual dry grasslands, not much unlike the old Rhodesian roads, for those who know what I'm talking about. But as we neared Semey, there appeared a load of trees, at first just a small forest on the horizon, but then we were driving through them. Every soo often, there would be a bunch of dead trees, which we got into a discussion about - are they the resilt of nuclear testing gone wrong? Apparently Semey is the place where the Soviets did their nuclear testiong andf there were over 400 tests in thhe area. Some places are still out of bounds, so we wont stay here long. There's a monument to those who suffered from the tests, we'll see whether we manage the  time tomorrow to see it, but its out of our way.

Booked into the Semey Hotel, and old Soviet style place, once again, must have been grand in its day. We're in the dining room, where there are over 20 chandeliers, but only 3 are lit!

Mileage 340 km

Matyin's morning moments
Actually I spotted the oil and in one way it answered a question that had worried me since doing service in morning.Had seen lot of oil in area inside rear wheel on passengers side.Obviously blowing back from what turned out to be the loose oil pipe.I hope I have fixed problem as it is one of my (many) worst nightmares - a severed oil connection.All this bouncing about takes its toll.
I asked to use wash facilitiies and security guard steered me towards hand basin.Water supply was cut off so he poured water over my hands from a jug and then pointed out that I had smuts on my face.A great kindness.As we drove away from petrol station he crossed his palms in our direction.Its an image which has stayed with me all day and has had a profound effect.
Then the polis! Got pulled for doing 62 in a 50 and was just negotiating my way downwards from a $50 backhander when he pulled in a bloke going hell for leather.Bloke came up and showed police ID and was waved away.I,in perfect Russian ,went apoplectic and queried why polis vroom vroom and wave away while I pop,pop,bang splut and get nobbled. Speed man laughed and waved me away.
So tomorrow we enter our 6th week and I thank Roger for keeping me on the straight and narrow.I dare to hope now and hang on to every kilometre.Little by little.
Contacted Alison today about sending fan belts forward to Ulaanbaatar for our collection - not sure whether thats being presumptious or cautious.
Tonight we are living Soviet style circa 1959 in an area renowned for nuclear testing.A strange green glow surrounds the grey.

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Janet & Dave Parsons on

Wow! Well on track - what excellent planning. Hope you are both feeling OK after nearness of hot spot! Travel safely as we wait with bated breath for next installment.
PS Glad we have the dinner / sleepover engagement in place before you went away otherwise we'd never get in your diary Roger.

Pats Sampson on

No wonder they consume (apparently) a lot of Wodkya! It all looks so unutterably bleak, methinks they'd need some form of rose tinted glasses?

sara on

glad you're bringing the polis around one by one!
We're going to apply for olympics tickets this week, you're not going on another epic voyage July/August 2012 are you?? Fancy coming to watch the mountain biking hopefully?
Isaac tried out a bike in cycle king today while buying new chain for granny- he whizzes for miles, literally, on his balance bike, so i think the swap to pedals might drive him nuts- he found the pedals really difficult, couldn't get any momentum up. we're borrowing vasilis's bike while he's away over easter, so will have to find him a slope to help get going.
he cycled into town on his balance bike the other day- i did make him get off before going down the harpur centre spiral- as he has no brakes other than feet i though that would be far too ugly!!
Hope you have a good nights rest. as Dad says- onwards and upwards!!! love to you both

Sara on

oh and good luck with the impeding border crossing

Shelagh on

lucky you planned to skirt those mountains, tho they certainly were beautiful. Gosh, everything looks SO incredibily barren and forsaken, or, in the case of some of the recent hotels, absurdly grandiose. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but obviously not what you are relaying to us. Amazing. Am truly enjoying the trip from the comfort of home. Seems incredible that it is 6 weeks already; seems just yesterday we were' seeing' you off. Take care k and s.

Peter & Sue on

Just back from 10 days R&R in the Caribbean. Slightly different culture to the ones that you have experienced recently. Seems as if your countryside is from a totally different planet. Glad to see you have negotiated the Stans with your usual skill, efficiency and bonhomie. The very best of luck in the Russian zone and onwards to Mongolia.

derek mc mahon on

Glad the trip is going well. As long as you don't start glowing in the dark you will be all right.

Alison on

Its the chinese grandprix today so if I see Christopher I`ll ask him to give you a run down Martin. Also the London marathon Roger- I know where you`d rather be !I think its time to break open the camping gear , too much luxurious living can¬t be good for you.It`s time to test out the petrol driven cooking equipment and i¬m sure a night under the stars surrounded by all that lovely scenery will do you a power of good!Happy motoring.

christopher t on

saw Alison, Martin, at mass while we waved our palm fronds in the air, a ceremoney which your travels may have meant you miss? Not much chance of a 3 hour stop in an Orthodox church I suppose? well doen for 'the leak cure' - nothing worse than knowing oil is blowing around, but being unable to trace it! Bit like Team McLaren today, who had a fuel leak on Hamilton's car when they fired it up with the grid already forming in Shanghai, and him in teh pit still - so Team Vodafone Redmind doing just as well as 625 men from Woking.... anyway, Hamilton won an extraodrinary race - in whcih I only saw the first half, the demands of Palm Sunday winning out, but the website reports make it clear it was quite some race, multiple lead changes, much action, great performances by teh new kids, Button having major bnrain fade and trying to pit in Vettel's box, which threw both teams .. and a finish with Lewis H winning from Vettel, Webber who ahd come thru from 18th on teh grid, and then Button. So British engineering as dominant in China as it currently is under maestro Redmond in darkest Russenistan
Keep up teh good work chaps, and we will continue to follow your every step by pigeon messenger and teh quill pen.... C

hairs clen do on

Which school did you go to Christopher? or has some sort of coded messages passed me by!

mike b on

wot no news - yet ??
dying to hear the start of the russian adventure
may your god [and mine ! ] be with you .

Phillipa (Alison's cousin) on

Hi Boys, have become an avid reader of your adventures - despite all the odds looks as if you are more than half way across that map! Had a laugh about food served on the cold plates, in all my many years in Italy Ive never come accross a hot one! Hope the rest of the journey will go really well.

Emily on

Hoping to hear from you soon

Alison on

Was wondering Roger how the pony tail was progressing and whether you`ve had your ear pierced yet.Remember Heather`s advice about trying to blend in with the locals.Assume you are in MOngolia by now. Looks fairly moutainous to me.Look forward to your next bit of news.

david on

Safe travels in the wilderness guys.
Will be hearing from you soon Im sure.

Jesmary on

Just to let all the bloggers know that the roads are rough and the comms non existent but our boys are still battling along and we hope to hear from them on here on Sunday. Thanks for all your concern as to their whereabouts.


thanks for the update

Barbara Goss on

Glad to hear all is well - look forward to hearing from them.

argieuk on

Many thanks for updating us. Great to hear from you. Thank Elena for us

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