A milestone has been reached today. 100 days on the road. I’m celebrating with a beer while I write. Looking back, so much has happened. It will be good to have the blog as a record and reminder of all the many things we have seen and done.
This morning dawned dull and damp. A shame as we have not had sight of the supposed view across the lake to the mountains on the other side. It is beginning to feel autumnal. The silver birch tree leaves are turning yellow. It is still mild though. It is difficult to imagine how inhospitable Siberia is in the winter. In the summer it is green and lush with wild flowers in abundance. The only clue being the the many slender silver birch saplings which are bent double, obviously by the weight of the winter snow and are unable to recover. I cannot picture a large, deep lake, like Baikal, being frozen solid in winter and criss crossed by roads.
Now we have to retrace our route back to Ulan Ude and pick up the road to Chita from there. Two roads lead to Chita and we elect to take the northern one. This is the smaller road, which we have to take beyond Chita anyway, as the main highway to the south continues beyond Chita into China.
Stopping for lunch not far out of Ulan Ude, Dennis decided it was the ideal spot to change the oil and do some vehicle maintenance. So while I get lunch he changes the oil and the oil filter, tightens a loose engine mount, greases the universal joints and checks the clutch master cylinder. (For those of you who are interested in these technical details!) A truck driver came over for a chat during the process. He advised us to take the southern highway as the northern road (the one we were on) is bad. We thank him but ignored his advice and continued. It is not a good road, but we have been on far worse and there is very little traffic and no trucks. So, we are quite happy.
Having just about got the hang of most of the Cyrillic characters, we don’t have too much trouble with road signs now. A problem we do have though is with the English spelling when names are translated from the Cyrillic script. There are so many variations. Our paper maps, guide books and online apps, can all have a different spelling. This has sometimes made it difficult to find small places using an app if it does not recognise the spelling of a place name.
Stopping at about 5.30, we have time to heat up water for a refreshing in tent shower. Ladies, keeping up appearances on this type of trip is a constant struggle – which I think I am losing 😀 Well, Vladivostok is not too far away now. I have been doing some research among the Overland community to find out how long people have had to wait for a vessel. Very varied. Some the very next day and others have had to wait a month. So, we will just have to go with the flow.