Posts Tagged ‘lorry park’

In the footsteps of the famous

4th October 2010 by Helen
our campsite with the lorries just outside Chita

our campsite with the lorries just outside Chita

Well, after our departure from Khilok we headed off to Chita, as you know.  We’ve spent about a week here, camping alongside various lorries outside a cafe just outside of town.  It shows up well on the route map if you zoom in.  We’ve been told by one of the young women working in the cafe that a few years ago Rosie Swale-Pope ( camped outside their cafe when she passed this way during her five year run around the world.  In the footsteps of the famous, eh!!  And we’ve introduced the cafe to the idea of lemon and sugar pancakes.  It took a bit of miming and they had to watch us eat them as they’d never heard of this combination before!!  Pancakes are usually filled with either savoury (meat – see also below) or a thick stodgy jam or served with mayonaise.


our campsite with the lorries just outside Chita

our campsite with the lorries just outside Chita

Sadly, we’ve had to call of our Road of Bones section.  After the delays in Kazakhstan, then Mongolia and now Siberia, our visa times have got tighter and tighter.  We have to be out of Russia by 27th October and it’s just not possible to get to Magadan and then down to Vladivostok in the time we have left available. 

Paul in particular is gutted, it was his primary reason for travelling in this part of the world.  However the incident with the horse was the final straw.  Hopefully he will have the chance to try again in a couple of years time.  Only trouble is, with the new road having been built the old road is getting more and more impassable with time and we don’t know for how long this will be achievable.

We’ve divided our time between our ‘campsite’ and the city centre, catching up on writing sponsors reports, working on our next round of sponsorship negotiations, refining our schools project to take into account what we have learned so far (and expanding to include additional schools who want to take part), taking a look at some of the sights, such as Lenin Square, and doing a bit of shopping for a second pair of warm trousers each as we head off into still colder climes.  Doesn’t solve my general misery at finding myself clumping through a fashionable city in my hefty walking boots though!!  Young Russian women have got keeping warm and stylish down to an art.  The older ones look more stereotypical though, so maybe I should just accept my age and go with the flow!!

We have been delighted to find a Coffee-Mall with free WiFi.  The food’s not particularly cheap but it is good quality and for once it is possible to order a meat dish and get something that hasn’t been chopped up and processed into something else.  Paul is also delighted to have found decent coffee as well.  Unfortunately the service is largely desultory, but, hey, you can’t have everything!!

We have had many conversations along the way about our different approaches to food: Paul enjoys good food well cooked and lovingly presented.  He is surely the darling of the true chef, fully appreciative of their art.  I enjoy this too but as Paul will point out I have a much higher tolerance to the whole Central Aisian ‘food is fuel’ approach: meat (don’t ask what sort, the answer is usually ‘meat’, they don’t know), processed into some kind of burger, possibly wrapped in pasta, often served in some kind of stew (goulash), often with assorted arteries still visible in between the gristle and fat – served with either pasta or mashed potato, and a couple of slices of cucumber and tomato.  Virtually everything comes served with mayonaise.

one of the preserved old wooden houses in Chita

one of the preserved old wooden houses in Chita

Cathedral, Chita

Cathedral, Chita

Anyway, even if the food isn’t exactly cheap the free WiFi makes up for the cost as we’d have to pay even more for the amount we’ve been using in the local Post Office provision.  At least we can use our own laptops, which is usually quicker than the ancient computers otherwise available, which makes updating blogs, sending emails, etc, etc, so much easier.

We did have a bit of excitement on Friday.  We were approached by a young man called Simon on Thursday asking us if we would be interviewed for a Russian TV programme about extreme travel.  Simon is involved in and – we could probably have done with knowing them when we were stuck

view through Lenin Square, Chita

view through Lenin Square, Chita

in the forest!!  One of the staff, Julia, at the station speaks good English and acted as an interpretor for us.

The weather varies between very cold and almost balmy.  In the city it can reach mid 20’s.  Outside the city: overnight it can drop below freezing and

feeding the pigeons in Lenin Square, Chita

feeding the pigeons in Lenin Square, Chita

sometimes we have woken up having to scrape the ice off the inside of the tent.  Reminds me of the days before central heating when my mother used to coax me out of bed to look at what ‘Jack Frost’ had painted on the inside of the window!!

We’ve been told (by Julia) that although English is the official second language, here in Siberia Chinese is much more useful for business and trade.

Through numerous emails and phone calls Paul is currently negotiating to ship Landy out of Vladivostok, probably to either Vancouver or Seattle, possibly via Japan or not.  Our plans to ship straight to Anchorage have been foiled by no-one shipping to there at present (it varies year by year).  Either way Landy’s journey will take about six weeks and so he will arrive sometime around the beginning/middle of December.  In the meantime we will be flying (we are not allowed to travel on the boat with Landy) to Anchorage, from where we will make some kind of combination journey using public transport and the ferry down to Billingham (just north of Seattle), from where we can get to the port so we can be reunited with Landy again.

I’ve missed my proverbs so had to slip one in, just in case some of you haven’t got anything better to do than ruminate on the meaning of these things!!  Rational animals of the genus Homo who have ceased to exist also ceases to recount connected narratives.

Toilets and more interesting people

12th July 2010 by Helen

10th July 2010

Ploughing on to Almaty today.

The scenery is changing.  We are leaving behind the deserts and savannah and today the Tien Chen mountains opened up before us as we approached Almaty.  Despite the heat we have seen roadside stallholders selling winter clothes and whole animal pelts.  Fruit is much more common among the roadside stallholders.

Toilets have been an interesting experience over the last few weeks.  We first came across the latrine over which you have to squate way back in Ukraine.  Whilst Russia was mixed, throughout Kazakhstan the toilet you can sit on has been a novelty.  Why should we think this is about being poor or a bad thing.  Many of these toilets are clean.  This is a far more appropriate system than wasting gallons of water where water is precious, particularly in the desert, and where water has to be collected from a well or tap out in the street.  I am slowly learning to balance on my heels (an essential skills, trust me).  However, today we came across two sets of public toilets that have been different in the extreme.  First, at a large cafe, very modern in many respects, the toilets were also modern, and had a charge of 30 Tenge.  The toilet itself still requires the ability to squat but this time over a china bowl.  And the water is flushed from a cistern with a pull chain.  But whilst there was small partitions between the toilets, there were no doors!!  Then tonight, being so close to the city of Almaty we were in the suburbs, we opted to camp in a TIR park.  All well and good, except the toilets here were so vile as to make the option of one’s buttocks being tickled by the grass (or insects or who knows what) a much more prefereable option than the privacy of a wooden hut emitting a smell that could be identified from 30 feet away.

Apart from that the lorry park held a new experience.  Drinking tea in the back of an empty container, Paul, in a combination of French and English managed a lengthy and informative conversation with a French speaking Turkish lorry driver.  We know his wife has died, he has two children, where he was brought up and where he has travelled, which is extensive to say the least, and how old he is.  How much he knows about us we’re not so sure.  The dogs roaming the park were happily playing together until it was time for us to be going to sleep, when they all began arguing, barking, fighting and generally creating a racket for much of the night.  Not that I was aware of any of this – I only have Paul’s word for it!!

(sorry no photos yet – not downloaded – but we have a lovely one of Landy nestling between two Turkish lorries – will post later hopefully)

Paul’s first birthday on the road

22nd June 2010 by Helen

Sunday 13th June

2010 06 13 lorry park where we slept last night (2)Waking up in the lorry park Paul was encouraged by opening a couple of birthday cards he had been given just before we left.  Unfortunately he seems have lost his phone (or possibly had it stolen) and couldn’t pick up any other messages of goodwill.  Still, after what was a fairly uncomfortable night we were quickly on the road again heading through Poland.  Found a nice campsite late afternoon and decided to stay there for the night.  Today was the end of a three day arts festival bringing together artists who have various disabilities or none, and they were just finishing off with some kind of awards ceremony.  Finished off by celebrating Paul’s birthday with a nice meal at the on-site restaurant.