And it snowed

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

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Where I stayed
Hotel Druzhba

Flag of Russia  , Buryatiya,
Monday, April 25, 2011

Set off from UB after a good breakfast. Martin collected the new fan belts from DHL office and we said our goodbyes to the staff. Apparently everyon ein the hotel knows us - I wonder why.

The road north was quite good, just as well considering the suspension, even after our efforts yesterday. Some potholes, but these were avoidable, unlike the previous few days. Hopwever, it snowed! The weather was bitterly cold and the snow was driving over the road, making it totally covered in places. Luckily we were heading down in altitude, so it eased off afetr a while, but at times it was really scary.

Stopped along the way for lunch of cheese sandwich and boiled egg, courtesy of Kapinsky Hotels breakfast buffet.

I took over driving and we made our way to the border. Got to the Mongolian exit side at 5.00. First office, away from the main building. guy in there had to log us onto the computer. However everything had to be done by codes, he couldnt put in that we were from England, it had to be code XXX which then got shown as England. However, he didnt have a code list, so had to make about 15 telephone calls to find out the details. He gave us a slip of paper.
Into the main building, where we then proceeded  to about 4 different customs desks, each of which recorded the same info, some on compuer, some in ledgers. ach completes the previous slip of paper and gives us a new one. Eventually we go to Immigration (or should that be Emigration?) who stamps our passports, records us yet again, and we are through. 6.00 pm, it took an hour. Into the car and wait in a queue because they only process just so many cars at a time. Wait more.

Eventually we get to the Russian side. Go to Immigration, who inspect our pasports about 6 times each. no idea what they are looking for, but I dot think they found it. On to customs, who say we should have been given a little slip by Immigration, but we handnt. They call her and she comes rushing over with 2 slips that we have to fill in and give back to her. She tears them apart and we keep one half. Half  an hour later she rushes over - she gave me the wrong half. Half an hour later she comes back and inspects the half I have to amke sure its the same as the half she has.

Customs inspect the car - as usual they couldnt find anything if it was there, but at least they dont make us unload everything, as they did with some cars. That would have been a disaster!

At last we are on our way at 8.30, except its now Russia, so its 9.30. The first town is Kyakhta, and we book into the hotel recommended in the guide. With a few language problems thry order a pizza each for us from the local take away, and send a guy with me to get 2 beers from the local shop. The shop is amazing - there is a big grille at the entrance, you shout what you wnat to the assistant, who brings it all to the grille. She hands you a bag and each iutem through the grille, and you put them into your bag, and pay her. NO customers go into the shop at all!

Anyway, pizzas eaten, beer drunk, and a pudding of Cadbury's Cream Eggs, (thanks Jem, although I forgot them yesterday!) a cup of coffee from our supplies, and now its bedtime.

Mileage 357km Max speed 87kph Max Altitude 5138ft

Martin's moments:
Well the snow was prety bad and drifting across road.Another fear - getting marooned in a snow swept wilderness.We've had enough worries to harden every sphincter in our bodies.I did say to Roger that we did not need to take any great chances.We perhaps have a little time on our side and caution is the byword now.Well today anyway.But Stanley ploughed on heroically and dealt with slush and packed snow.
I meant to mention the other day how nice it is when we pick up blog entries from people we did not know were following us - I saw that Phillipa had taken to following our progress.
Poor old Roger had his routine moment of fury with the officialdom and ridiculous duplication of work at Customs.Even allowing for their usual arrangements we must cause quite a different set of circumstances.But today,as has happened before a kindly (usually young person with good English) soul takes care of us.
So we've pitched up in Mother Russia for the second time and now need to thread our way over the top of Eastern Mongolia and then down to Vlad.
Gently does it but we're hanging in.We know we are both tired and have not had a rest day to speak of.Our enforced stay in Baku was hardly a holiday.
We've lost another hour today - 8 hours in front of UK.
Hopefully weather will not worsen and we will make our way further forward tomorrow.
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sarah terzeon (prebend day centre) on

Keep up the great work - and patience! - chaps. Still following with admiration. No snow & ice here - a superb May Day in sunny Beds! Best wishes, Sarah T

Krz\ysia gossage on

I think I've found the solution to UK unemployment - ship them all out to the various customs offices you've been through - especially this last one - as they clearly have a policy of not limiting in any way their numbers of customs officers.

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