Late start this morning as we didn’t wake until 8.30. Camped under trees so no sun on us to wake us. Soon after setting off, we pulled into a cafe car park. Dennis had noticed we had WiFi and wanted to publish the blog (last night we had no signal). Great I thought, I can go and get a coffee. Haven’t had a decent cup of coffee since I can’t remember when. Am getting withdrawal symptoms. We don’t have anything but tea on board. Dennis is not a coffee drinker. Disappointment. The coffee machine was broken!
When we set off again the weather had changed. It was overcast and trying to rain. We haven’t seen rain during the day since we were in Murmansk in early June. One really bad thunderstorm and a couple of other minor storms, but all at night.
It felt very different today. Cool and damp, a great road and so green. The verges are thick green grass. At first there were fields of sunflowers, wheat, oats and grass, then silver birch forests, then pine. The only blot on landscape was the town of Bijsk, the largest habitation we passed through today. Very Soviet in appearance and with the inevitable potholed roads.
Once beyond the town a good road and pretty countryside becoming mountainous. We spent the rest of the day driving by a river. Often we passed rafts full of holiday makers white water rafting. This region is a holiday area for Russians with hiking, horse riding, mountain biking, rafting and fishing. Between the road and the river the pine forest was dotted with campers, many having barbecues. So crowded with campers that we found it difficult to find a quiet spot for us.
As the rain had set in and the time was getting on we crossed a small bridge which took us to a grassy area opposite a village. There were some roughly constructed tables under a tree and evidence of fires having been lit, so obviously used for picnicking. We set up camp and we’re about to start cooking dinner when deafening music shattered our peace. 2 ancient Ladas had pulled up beside us with 3 occupants. The elder one of the 3, a very inebriated gentleman, came to talk to us. Communication was not easy as besides not having a common language, he was seriously the worse for wear. I carried on preparing dinner while Dennis went and sat with them. With the assistance of Google Translate, Dennis was having a dialogue with the younger 2. I went and joined them and the the inebriated gentleman offered me a bottle of cognac. I told him we didn’t drink cognac and with that he picked up the bottle and threw it over his shoulder smashing it to smithereens. I think the younger 2 told him to calm down, which he did. We had some beer in the fridge so we shared that before excusing ourselves and cooking our dinner. They left while we were eating. When we opened the tent door we found they had left us the remains of their wine box.
Finishing off the wine the peace was disturbed once again by someone knocking on the side of the Land Rover. Another guy and his wife wanting to camp and politely asking us if we minded them being next to us. It took a while to understand that this was what they wanted. However, they have now put up their tent and it is dark. Hopefully there will be no other interruptions and we will soon be in bed. We have about 500ks to go to reach the Mongolian border.