Thursday 4 Sep 2014
Woke up early this morning. But hotel Momin in this border town Mongolia had run out of water. What lousy luck. Breakfast was ok; and we departed by 7am to arrive at the CIQ complex 8am but to a long wait. Anyway the Mongolian handlers from Genco did their best to get us as group given some priority.
So by 10.45 am we were out and into Russian CIQ complex. More waiting to be processed which included 100% check on all cars. We were only cleared by 4pm. Phew.
Anyway, the 220km drive to Ulan Ude was very pleasant. Good roads and beautiful scenery. It was like driving in the English countryside.
Friday 5 Sep 2014
Washed T-shirts and boxers at hotel. Had a good night’s sleep after updating websites. Hotel had good wifi.
Morning was very cold. Olga went to change money and Convoy went shopping for provisions. Then off to Lake Baikal some 200km NE of Ulan Ude. Camping by the lake tonight.
Saturday 6 Sep 20
Very cold last night. No wifi but SMS ok to contact home. Should have bought Russian simcard. This morning foggy. Departed for Yakults 5 days away north. Hence 4 more campings, but with last night’s experience should be better organised.
It rained all day well into the night. Thomas decided no camping but had to divert to Chita for hotel accn. It’s another 7 hrs drive, ETA 1.30 am. It’s better than camping!
Campsite not good. Still raining. Looks like I’ll be sleeping in the car tonight. Another campsite was found. And I did sleep in the car.
Monday 8 Sep 2014
Quite comfortable sleeping in the car last night. But it continued drizzling whole night and probably into tonight. But we’re going into a hotel at Bolshoy. So that’s ok. Let it piss all night. Our car demister went kaput. Used toothpaste, ok so-so; today bought Sonax spray at Mogocha. Worked beautifully.
Arrived Bolshoy 8.15pm. Full refuelling before motel above next to the petrol station. How convenient (but they don’t have wifi.)
Tuesday 9 Sep 2014
Destination Aldan today. Apparently there’s a hotsprings campsite there. It’s a 600+km distance and I don’t think we’d make since there’s a lot of roadworks slowing us down. Looks like the Russians are actively developing the Russian Far East especially now that they’ve found gold and diamond in the region. The town of Tynda is certainly a modern creation.
We didn’t make it to Aldan, 200km short. But Thomas soon found a campsite by 7.30pm just before it got dark. Where? By the roadside just off the main M56 highway. And everybody got to work setting up their tents and Jeremy his kitchen.
And Choy and I would sleep in the car like we did night before.
Wednesday 10 Sep 2014
It was cold last night. About 3°C according to Aman Yong. Looks like I’ll have to use double sleeping bags and double warmer packets from now onwards.
After breakfast and calisthenics we rolled at 10am for Nizthni on the east bank of the river at Yakults 750km north. I didn’t think we’d make it when at 3.15pm we only reached Aldan the town we were supposed to be yesterday evening; with another 500km to cover. The weather, however, was nice and sunny. But roadworks and diversions were still aplenty.
And Thomas also said it was the coldest he ever experienced. Well, it might be worse along the “road of bones” for the next 4-5 days.
Cliff Go who left us at Ulaan Baatar rejoined us us today at Nizhne. We’re bypassing Yakutsk (and hotel) to make up for time.
After lunch and refuelling we left for the ferry terminal but didn’t quite make it. So we camped by 8pm.