August 19, 2009 GMT
Storms and Geiger Counters

We are now about 100kms from the Russian border- can't be too precise as we are off our mapped universe so it is a bit of guesswork from here on in. Not having northern Kazakhstan didn't seem such an issue when we looked at our map back in England.

I have managed to scrounge a Russia map from a bike riding friend who we met in Tajikistan (he had already crossed Russia), but the scale is 1 to 8 million so not good on detail and also it turns out to show rail lines rather than roads so possibly more hindrance than help.
You'll soon find out when we end up in Moscow by accident.

We have had some help from another Spanish Mongol Rally team (the Boys from Bilbao) who we met on the road this afternoon- and later flagged down, they were only too pleased to take our panniers for a very bad stretch of road - the rack on one side had snapped and needs re-welding whilst the catch that holds the case on has started to crack on the other pannier so thought it best to get them carried until we reached town - repairs will be done in the morning.

Our journey across the Kazakh steppes was a relatively peaceful one until I decided that we would camp in the middle of one of the flattest places on earth just as a massive electrical strorm was brewing (in my defence, I would like to point out that we didn't know the storm was on its way when we put up the tent). It was very impressive and I even managed to get pictures of Thelma with lightning in the sky around her- I'll be posting those pictures when I get to a decent internet connection again.

At the top of Kazakhstan, we reached the town of Semey- infamous for its previous life as the testing ground for soviet nuclear bombs and still a very radioactive place - now where did we pack that geiger counter? Or did I turf it out to make room for the bikini?

The guidebooks say that they believe there is no risk to short term visitors, which is just as well as we ended up staying there for two nights- a last bit of luxury in a comfortable hotel before we reach Russia, and also a chance to get the pannier rack re-welded. The guy did a fantastic job and refused any payment, whilst his friend ran off to the supermarket and presented us with a bag of groceries to see us on our way- they obviously know something about food supplies in Russia of which we are blissfully ignorant.

Russia - Here we come.

Posted by tiffanycoates at August 19, 2009 06:46 AM GMT

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