Last night was a disaster. We again found what looked to be a disused quarried area off the motorway. It was a bit scruffy looking but being late in the day, we needed to stop. Finding a flat area, camp was set up.
After an interesting but tasty meal we settled in for the night. Soon asleep we are woken by a car coming past! It stopped, shining it’s lights on us and after Igor’s warning the other night, we both thought, here goes! The car drove on but a little later there were footsteps on the gravel outside. I whispered to Jen, stay very quiet. The footsteps went away but I would have to say we were on a heightened alert. Another two cars came past at different times. I think it must have been 3am before we got some sleep. We have no idea what was going on further up the track, in the middle of nowhere!? Funny how the mind can interpret something sinister out of nothing. I said to Jen, they seem to be no threat to us but they may perceive we are to them? This is another reason why we were keen to have the graphics on the side of the vehicle.
Despite the interrupted sleep we were up early and on the road by 9am. The idea was to put some serious miles on the clock.
Starting the day with 800k’s or 500+ miles to travel to get to Khabarovsk, we were conscious that it’s probably beyond a reasonable day’s drive. So we headed for Birobidzhan, 200k’s from Khabarovsk. Birobidzhan has an interesting history. It was promoted by Stalin as a Jewish Autonomous area in the 1920’s. Stalin was keen to populate the region to thwart both Chinese and Japanese ambitions. So he dedicated the area for Jewish settlement, before the concept of Israel, which wasn’t established until 1948. On one of my Kirra Tours, a couple of years ago, one of my passengers was telling me that his Grandfather had moved from the U.S. to Birobidzhan in the 1920’s, a place I had never heard of. True to form, once there was a sizeable population, around 50,000 at it’s height in the 1940’s, Stalin started purging the Jews. Today there are only about 1,500 Jews remaining of the approx 120,000 population.
During the day we turned over 16,000 miles (or 24569k’s) to date and still more to go.
After a lunch stop where we ate yesterdays bread and last weeks cheese and brewed tea with our last drop of water, there was an urgent need to refill the empty 5L bottles we carry for non drinking water needs. Crossing many streams and small and large rivers on the way with no access, it looked like the water situation was going to be troublesome. However at last there was a fast running stream we could get down to. Beautiful clear cold water saved us from ruin…:) Laughing.
While the day started with blue sky and warm, we could see Cumulus clouds gathering on the eastern horizon. We arrived in Birobidzhan at 5pm in time to catch the end of a downpour. Streets were awash. It seems drains are not something that has bothered the local administration. The first act when arriving was to visit a supermarket to top up on seriously depleted supplies. That done, Wifi was the next task. With an MTC office in the town we learned that SIM cards are limited to areas, not the whole country! The one purchased in Ulan-Ude was outside the region, so inoperable!!! WIFI is such an important part of the modern day travellers needs.
Jen found us a reasonable hotel online as the thought of looking for a camp site after dark and raining too, wasn’t something that appealed.
A photo free day..:)