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Russia As I See It

September 25, 2015 2 Comments

Russia has been a complete surprise to me. Even though the weather is grim and cold. The people and way of life here certainly makes up for that. It is probably close to Mongolia as a favourite country we have been in to date.

Since getting back on track with our trip, catching up with Lynn and Alan, Russia has been a new experience as a stand out country from most other countries we have been through. Every day brings a new and crazy event. Spent the first nights in Biysk 500km south of Novosibirsk. We flew into Novosibirsk then caught a taxi to the city bus terminal to go to Biysk. The bus trip was about 4 to 5 hours south taking us into another bus terminal. With a few hand signals to a lady taxi driver we were off to a hotel of her choice. She did well  – the hotel was great. Wasn’t long before we stumbled upon a Russian who spoke a little English in the hotel bar / dining area. He was a little inebriated and professed to be a doctor. We think he said he was anaesthetist. No way would he ever shove a needle in me! A little while later Alan and Lynn arrived at the hotel after driving up to meet us from the Mongolian – Russian boarder. By this time our doctor friend was becoming a little loud. By the time we all were ready to settle down for dinner he was starting to annoy. He tried to sit at our dining table. When he was in the loo, Lynn politely moved his beer and chair to another table. That was the end of him – he moved on to some other poor unsuspecting folks.

On Thursday the 17th September, I took our car to a suspension workshop. The shop looked good and clean the mechanic boss man seemed fair dinkum. All we wanted was a wheel alignment and check over the suspension. The boss indicated we could have the car the next day. When we contacted him he said he had to wait till Monday to find some new parts ie. a ball joint for the steering and a wheel bearing. Monday at about 2pm he SMS’d us and said the car was ready. Alan drove me over I paid 20,000 rubles = $434.00 AUS. Drove the car out and headed off towards Kemerovo. The car seemed no better and had all the same issues as before we took it to the Byisk workshop.

Alan and I pulled into Novokuznetsk Ford dealership about 200km north of Byisk. We wanted to see if the dealership had any torsion bars as this is what we thought may be the main issue with the car. In the dealership we got chatting to a chap (Andre) who spoke some English and helped us out with translation with the dealership staff and lovely admin ladies. Andre works for a Volvo Mining company. No luck with torsion bars. Andre indicated we should follow him to Kemerovo another 200km north and he would introduce us to a good mechanical workshop. Along the way about 50km south of Kemerovo, Andre pulled over into a road side eatery. We all followed. He took us in for a meal (interesting meal but good). He would not let us pay and took care of the entire bill himself.

After our meal we then followed Andre to his mates workshop – phoning ahead to make sure he would be there, we arrived at about 7.30pm. Andre introduced us to another Andre, workshop owner. Wow what a workshop! Alan was in his element. Old car bodies, ancient machinery, pre-war wrecks, a real Steptoe shed, a bit of a rabbit warren. Almost had to hog tie him to get him out of there to find a hotel. Before we left Andre (the mechanic) indicated we had bearing and suspension issues. We left our car with our new entrusted motor mechanic friend and came the next day to see what he had come up with.

Alan and I used this time and his undercover workshop to pull his water tank apart to fix what we thought was a leak. Turned out it may have only been condensation issues and not a leak. Also 3 of the workshop guys fixed the Cruiser’s driver side door. The door was dropping (just another typical cruiser issue). I guess he will never bring this issue up or add it to the Cruiser-Ranger tally.

Alan went to pay for their efforts about 2 hours work and they indicated no charge. Andre (mechanic) showed me the issues with the car, chewed out shock rubbers, the bearing the previous workshop installed into the left front wheel was the wrong size. To try and make it fit the mechanic used some kind of circlip as a shim/spacer, he also missed the badly worn shock rubbers. In general he did a prick of a job. Andre at the Kemerovo workshop seems to have got it right. We put his business stickers on our cars and made a very happy man of him.

Alan thought it was Xmas when Andre gave him 4 x local Russian number plates… a passion of Alan’s – he has plates from all over the world. If he could take some car bodies home with him I am sure he would. We picked the car up and moved on to Tomck our furthest northern point about 53 degrees north of the equator not that far off the Arctic Circle.

We had a very interesting night last night in a great restaurant with fine food and beer. Then along came another doctor picking up that we were Australians. He just wanted to shout us vodka shots – one shot down then another until we said no more. I think Lynn turned her glass upside down to stop the flow. Alan had the most conversation with this fella. Pretty sure Alan had a taste of his breath a few times he was that close to him. Wasn’t long and we had a Frenchman and his Russian girlfriend join us. They didn’t stay long due to Mr vodka (the doc) I think he was a bit loud for them. Just before the doctor joined us, Donna saw him up the back of the restaurant with another fella, she made the comment “are those two gay?” Low and behold within 10mins they were at our table. I don’t think they were gay though.

Buildings in Kemerovo

Beautiful Old Buildings in Kemerovo

This morning we woke, had breakfast and went for a wander around the town of Tomck to view the old heritage timber buildings all made from timber logs and tin roofs. There will be lots of photo’s to see on the blog.

Tonight 25th September we are in a truck stop about 450km from the Russian Kazakhstan border. I would say we may hit that border tomorrow and start to enter some warmer weather soon we hope.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Please bring me back an AK-47 from Russia.

  2. Lynn says:

    Hey Dave,
    I’ve seen the pointy end of enough ak47’s to last a lifetime. So, no, there’ll be no “extras” like that on board!
    Best regards

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