Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Vodka and Kalashnikov

Yep only can mean one place, Russia! Since it was only 5 days I will keep it short but I am amazed at what can happen in a short time.

Arrive at the Russian border-takes forever, in one room I stood waiting along with a mix of a dozen or so Russians and Kazakhs, this is a conversation I had with one man-
Man "Atkuta?" (which in Russian means where are you from?)
Me "Australia"
Man "argh Kangaroo" (which I have heard to many times)
Me "Atkuta?" pointing at the man
Man"Russia" with a proud look
Me "argh Kalashnikov!"
The whole room burst into laughter, I wasn't sure what way it would go down.

This corner of Russia still has infrastructure of the old soviet.

Anyway into Russia and what a beautiful place, it was like I was in Austria, alpine forest, high mountains, fresh air. We decided to take a short cut, never ever again, there is no such thing as a short cut, end up taking a trail that turned into something Sir Edmond Hilary would only tackle, at times we would have to stack small rocks around big rocks and make our own road, carry, lifting 300 kg's of motorbike, covering 400 meters in 2 hours, in the end it became impossible, one thing is for sure our determination was high. Both exhausted we returned over what we had just covered, one difficult part was an old wooden bridge, this time as we wheeled my bike over it a plank collapsed under Dirks foot, as he fell he pulled my bike on top of himself, I could not hold the weight, he screamed "get it off, get it off!" I had to run around his side and lift the whole 300 kg's of his leg, how I don't know. I knew he was OK when his first words were "I was always a bit of a screamer!" What a situation. As we crossed one final rocky creek bed, Dirk hit the deck only meters from some Russians camping by the river, both exhausted we decided to camp there with them.

Lots of rivers to drink the crystal clear water straight from.

This was the path we tried, there was hardly a place to walk!
Our new friends turned out to be great hosts even though my conclusion was Mafia when I asked there jobs, they gave us food, cooked us dinner, we went fishing later at night to their special spot on the river, for the hike there out came a 12 gauge semi auto shot gun and of course an AK-47, for what, not the fish but the bears, a lot of bears in this neck of the woods, anyway no fish and thankfully no bears back to the camp and out came the Vodka, watching the bottle disappear I was thankful but then out came the Cognac!!

Bear country!
Next morning before departing I was handed the Kalashnikov, loaded and the Russian suggested shot shot, what would going to Russia and not letting a few rounds fly through their most famous export, I let loose, when in Rome!

Our Russian buddies

Made in Russia

Near the border of Mongolia

Changing tires in the biggest workshop on the planet.

So then back around the way we should have taken in the first place, eventually reaching the Russian Mongol border on day 4, changed tires and check the bike over, one last night camped in Russia on a river, staring up at the stars I thought whats next, Mongolia!!