Fortsetzung von Block 11. Kasachstan
Welcome to Russia
first border crossing to Russia see April 19, 2019 blog Azerbaijan-Georgia-Armenia + short part of Russia
Image 1: Immigration card (available in the Internet, print out and fill in in advance)
Image 2 and 3: Customs declaration for the car (the 2 stamps are important)
Day 277, April 27, 2019 132.056 km ---- back to Russia ---- part2 (part1 see blog Kazakhstan)
Entry to Russia at Ilek was very quick, there was only a small house, we got a stamp in the passport, hardly any control, just a quick look into the car, again they look a little amazed. You should note here: here they tried to look at the photos of our camera, they asked what we have photographed so far. A kind of commissioner came to us after the vehicle inspection.
After about 10km, which we still had to go from the border to keep the distance tot he border zone, we looked for a cozy, quiet place away from the road and enjoyed the evening
Day 278, April 28, 2019 132,056 km
Today we drove via Orenburg, Ufa towards Chelyabinsk towards Mongolia. Thomas is on vacation because, with a few minor exceptions of a few hundred meters, we drive on roads that are like our highways. But the weather is not so nice today, cloudy, light rain, 15°C, but everything feels more relaxed again and we enjoy the ride.
The weather forecast says it will be -5°C tomorrow, we are driving at 15°C right now and can hardly believe it. We are making good progress and driving an average of 80kmh (90 is allowed), we are also happy to see policemen again who are friendly and greet. Everything finally feels really relaxed again and our travel fever is back again. The landscape is flat, beautiful, bright white birch forests line the road. The road is still in a very good condition, but also heavily used, we are constantly overtaking trucks. Contrary to expectations, it is very densely populated here. Our idea of romantically driving alone through the steppes doesn't match reality at all. Since we needed water for our tank, we stopped at a rest area, which was also very suitable for overnight stays, was quiet and even monitored, so we decided to stay here. From the nice security we got water, which he brought out of the kitchen for us (which required repeated running back and forth, because we only had empty 5l bottles for transport). There are no outside water taps in Russia. A very nice smell from the restaurant makes us decide to have dinner here.
Impressions of villages on the roadside
while driving, it's flat, lots of birch forests
Day 279, April 29, 2019 132,677 km ---- Ural crossing ----- another 3,000 km to Mongolia
When we woke up in the morning we noticed with dismay it had gotten bitterly cold overnight, a short walk with Jerry and you couldn't move your hands, the bad thing about the cold was the strong, icy wind and the blowing snow. It was only -5°C, but it felt like -20°C. Hey .... yesterday we had almost 20°C plus and now incredible weather change. Since the weather forecast predicted the same thing for the whole week, we slowly start doubting, looked at each other and both had the same idea. Actually we wanted to find a place where we can finally linger for 2 or 3 days, sit in front of the car and relax. Because we still have the Kazakh adventure in our mind, we need a little rest. But in this iceworld? We thought about what to do for 2 or 3 hours, it was totally difficult for us to make a decision, turn left or right. To the left would be to go home via Moscow and St. Petersburg, on the right to Mongolia, but still in Siberian weather.
No matter how hard we tried, it was not possible to make a decision, we were so close to our goal of entering Mongolia only 3000 km left, but how to say, this Kazakhstan experience, as well as the strong wind and we are finally yearning for a quiet and relaxed time. Now Thomas got the stupid idea, we do it differently, we let something else decide for us. Our 3rd gas bottle was now empty (the Turkish one that we actually want to dispose). If you can fill the gas bottles at the gas filling station without any problems, we keep going, because we will have to heat a lot the next few days, if not, we turn around and drive home. An 11 kg gas bottle basically lasts for 4-6 weeks, unless it is used for continuous heating, it is reduced to about 1 week. So, decision made, our bottle was filled without any problems, an adapter was available at the petrol station, filling cost 3 €.
So the decision was made, we know we may heat the car for a week without using to our reserve. With start towards Mongolia with Siberian cold and dense snow. Only the husky likes it and jumps, pulling me through the snow. And we have learned one thing: -5°C in Russia does not simply mean -5°C due to the icy wind that passes everything, you have the feeling that you are naked and the wind blows your skin off your body.
We crossed the Urals in heavy snow. We are now in the Asian part of Russia, in Siberia. We have actually arrived in Siberia !! The journey was comfortable and smooth and slowly the feeling came back that it was right to continue our planned way.
Close to the evening, we didn't want to stand alone because of the bad weather. We would like to park somewhere between trucks in case we may have problems with the car and the cold so that someone could help in an emergency. After Chelyabinsk we found a guarded truck parking lot that had a large hall where trucks were washed. Rudi was also invited to take a bubble bath for a bar of chocolate and a few rubles, they washed it so thoroughly that it shines like never before. The security looked after us very nicely and we could talk about Google Translater.
Now there are still 2500 km to our destination.
A dream, this infinite distance, the steppe, the birch forests
Fahrt durch den Ural, jetzt noch mit wenig Schnee
Impressions from Chelyabinsk. The trams look quaint, there are lots of trams, the drivers strangely get out at every intersection to set switches on the ground
Crossing the Urals at -5 ° C and extreme snowfall
the icy wind makes walking the dog almost impossible, the husky cannot get enough. You can't move your fingers within seconds
he road numbers we drove: R335, P240, M5, E30. The roads are single-lane and as you can see they are largely in good condition, but heavily used by trucks, overtaking is not always easy. There is a lot of traffic up to 200 km before Omsk, after which it is quieter.
The cities are just as modern as ours, only a few vehicles remain of the past. The road traffic here is very regulated
Rudi is washed and pretty for Mongolia
Day 280, April 30, 2019 133,187 km ---still 2,500 km to Mongolia
We are sticking in snow this morning, it is cold, -5°C, even our waste water tank that we wanted to drain is frozen. Fortunately, it is cozy and warm in the car. We had such temperatures in Tuktuyaktuk in Canada and are thinking of our two Swiss friends Marlis and Sandro, who had no heating in the car (best regards to Switzerland !!).
The landscape remained the same today, flat, birch forests on the left and right. It's getting lonely, towns and villages are no longer side by side, but the road is really busy.
We have been on the road for 2 months now and have covered 18,300 km, 2500 km to our destination this morning. To get home from there via Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, we will need another 10,000 km. So far we have had average expenses of € 48 per day in the last 2 months. These expenses include absolutely all costs, such as diesel, food, toll, accommodation costs, repairs. Visa fees.
When we discovered that we were already in Siberia, we were really happy that we could experience this in our lives. Who ever comes to Siberia? And the next highlight: since it is so cold at the moment, we have just stopped visiting cities and will do it on the way back and just do kilometers instead. Because of the cold, we decided to stand near trucks at night, at secured rest areas, help is available if something should happen. And we can not believe it, everything is geared towards truck drivers, there is a small hotel and there is actually a laundry service, after 4 weeks finally again !! The laundry should actually take 24 hours, but after a bit of talking and explaining that we want to continue tomorrow morning, trey agreed to do it faster. Finally we can change the bed linen again and we feel really comfortable, of course we still have enough replacements, but we also didn't want to use all our clean capacities, you never know when the next possibility will come. From tomorrow on, the temperatures should slowly rise again, to 20°C in the next 2-3 days. But somehow it was interesting to experience Siberia in this weather, who knows what's going on here in winter. The wind is already so icy, impossible to compare to ours.
Day 281, May 1, 2019 133,819 km ---------- we are in Siberia ------- still 1,900 km to Mongolia
Today's 700 km without any stress, good roads, the sun is back. The landscape is just to enjoy. The many lakes in the tundra give an idea of what a mosquito paradise it will be in summer. For us the cold time is now over, it should rise again to 20°C tomorrow, the day after tomorrow and the rest of the week. But we won't have mosquitoes yet, it's too early for that.
I always wanted to go to Siberia and Thomas to Novosibirsk at some point, now that has become a reality and actually it was really easy and it is an incredibly great feeling to be here now. And the way people look at us here / hazard warning lights / flasher / waving / thumbs up etc. seems that they haven't had much visitors yet. The only problem is the language. Russians are very German friendly, but communication is almost impossible because you can't talk.
Otherwise, Russia is the perfect country to travel around. It is possible to stay overnight everywhere, it is safe, the roads are good, there is everything your heart desires, Siberia is not as extensive and lonely as you may think. Every 30-40km there are larger rest areas that are well equipped. There is a lot of traffic on the streets. There is nothing more for today, we are both very happy to be here and not having turned around and we are now enjoying a Siberian evening with pleasant temperatures.
Addendum: highly praised Germany?
We are in the middle of Siberia in the middle of nothing, but every 40-50 km there are large resting places for 30-40 trucks with a canteen (very large selection of food), modern showers, small grocery store, everything very cheap. Not for utopian prices like in ours, but for truck drivers it all costs only 1-2 €, the parking spaces are guarded and very clean. What have we seen again and again on the motorways in Germany, the truck parking spaces are overcrowded, the trucks have to park for miles behind them on the hard shoulder.
Grocery store / butcher, all in one
a question, what cities are we talking about? We do not know it ;-)
We only "scratched" Omsk on the way to Mongolia, but we will come back on the way back and then we will visit it
We are sitting in the car and can´t believe that we are really here in Siberia. Approx. 219 km before Novosibirsk. As you can see, the weather is better now. we left the Urals behind, since then the landscape has been as in the photos.
Siberia is a vast region in Russia that covers much of the Russian North Asia and whose landscape consists of tundra, coniferous forests and mountain ranges such as the Urals, the Altai and the Verkhoyansk Mountains. Lake Baikal in southern Siberia is the deepest lake on earth
Day 282, May 2, 2019 134.537 km 218 km to Novosibirsk, 1200 km to Mongolia
The roads are still very good up to here. We didn't expect that. Now we're getting nervous. We'll be at the Mongolian border tomorrow evening.
Traffic is easing. We didn't expect so many people to be here. It is also more densely populated down here, but poor looking villages. Only between Omsk and Novosibirsk we once had 200-300 km without major settlements.
Today we stood on the Ob river, it is incredibly wide and still frozen over. In contrast, the Main or the Rhine is a stream.
Rudi receives a blessing. Church on the outskirts of Novosibirsk
The river Ob near Novosibirsk flows through the whole of Siberia and flows into the Karasee (Arctic Ocean). It is still frozen and extremely wide.
Day 283, May 3, 2019 135.165 km 579 km to Mongolia
While the last few days were just straight through flat landscape, the last 500 km lead through the Altai Mountains, the road is very winding and leads along the Katun river. On the way you pass small villages again and again, which makes the route very time consuming. It looks like in Switzerland, green pastures with cows, snow-capped mountains. It's very nice to drive. As we learned last night, everything was snowed in here just 2 weeks ago. And in 2-3 weeks the mosquito infestation should wake up. Since we are likely to have sun for the next 14 days and up to 20°C, depending on the altitude, we have just arrived at a good time, a "time slot", between snow and mosquitos. It seems we are going to reach the Russian border to Mongolia at an altitude of 2000m tonight and it is only open from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (with a 2 hour lunch break). According to internet research, it may take us a long time to cross this border. If we're really unlucky, we'll only may enter Mongolia by Monday and have to wait in the no man's land for 1.5 days. The checkpoints are 20km apart. The Mongolian side has the same opening hours as the Russian side. Let's see how it will be. The anticipation is huge!
And to Bärbel and Herbert from America: we can see that you are following us diligently based on the statistics. Russia is worth a trip, it's actually quite easy. Best regards to Florida !!!
More later, there are still 200 km left to the border
5.30 p.m., no car in front of us .... we arrive at the border, the door opens and a nice English-speaking Russian border official asks us if we want to go over there. We are affirmative, quite happy, that we could even manage this in time. But he says, but you know that the Mongolian border is closed until further notice? For today yes, and tomorrow morning we will continue there?, we asked. He says: No, the border remains closed until Monday, then more information will come. If you want, you can cross the border from our side, but you won't be allowed to entert he mongolian side. We ask, what happend and why the border is closed. And he says that there are two plague deaths in the town of Ögliy and that the border was closed yesterday as a precaution. We are shocked. We drove 20,000 km to see Mongolia, are in front of the gate and can't get in. The closest possible border crossing is 3000 km from here. Which means from here back to Novosibirsk and then to Krasnoyarsk and use the border crossing at Tes. Now we are quite helpness in front of this unexpected situation at the border and think about it. According to our own research, the situation now looks like that the plague in Mongolia is endemic, it appears every now and then. Mainly because people eat marmot meat, a carrier of the plague. Although this has now been banned, it happens every now and then. And the situation right now is that a couple who died yesterday also ate groundhog.
160 people with whom they may have had contact are currently being monitored. It can be assumed that the border will be open again on Monday, May 6th, if another person should not fall ill. Since we have now driven 20,000 km and need rest days anyway, we wait here at the border (the place is called Tashanta), observe the situation and see what the next few days bring. Thomas says that if the situation escalated so much, the Russians would close the border and not let anyone come in and bring doctors. The Russians are totally relaxed, they would have let us exit and in again.
Since the weather looks good for the next week, we will have 15°C here at an altitude of 2000 m, we now use the forced break to clear our things properly, to clean and try to relax a little bit.
Day 284, May 4, 2019 135.735 km
we are still standing in front of the border and know that 17 people are quarantined directly behind the Mongolian border. This information came from someone who dared to go over there. We were lucky that we had 4 Russian cyclists with us who spoke perfect English and thus kept us up to date and they showed us newspaper reports / pictures from the Russian press that people in protective clothing are walking around and that the two dead people are russian tourists and really ate the marmot meat. The 4 cyclists wanted to cross the mongolian borde ras well, but unfortunately gave up in the afternoon and drove back to Novosibirsk. At their advice we got vaccinated today. We are now vaccinated against the plague. Since it is already advisable here where we are. Photos later because the internet is too weak.
Tomorrow the border is closed anyway because it is Sunday and we will wait until Monday.
By the way, we wrote to the German embassy in Ulan Bataar and the Federal Foreign Office, let's see if new information comes from there.
If we have new information we will post it.
Day 285, May 5, 2019 135,735 km
We are still in contact with the 4 Russian cyclists who are also taking a break in a village and we all had a very bad night. Slight fever, cramp and slept very badly. This is because the body is now working after vaccination. The 4 were vaccinated yesterday as well. Now we are much better. We drove a little further into the steppe, away from the village, the sun is shining, it is 15°C and it is not windy, we can even sit outside. Unfortunately, the internet is still very bad and we are currently unable to upload any pictures. But we are totally relaxed and enjoy a nice day in front of the car and hope that tomorrow the problem in Mongolia will be solved.
here is a link to a newspaper article from the Siberian Times about the situation in Ölgii:
Due to our forced break we sit comfortably in the sun in front of the car, we have just summed up the year since we have been on the road. We now have the May 5, 2019, in 6 weeks we are on the road for a whole year. And we find out that less is more, we feel much happier after escaping the domestic consumption rush in time. The world is much nicer, friendlier and more helpful than you think. We have been thinking for a long time about what was our most unpleasant experience this year. And despite small glitches, somehow they think it was California. We don't have to have that again. The state was very uncomfortable with all its regulations, bans, surveillance, and high prices. It just wasn't nice. Which not only happened to us, but also to many other travelers. Or New Hampshire, where staying overnight became a problem, as RVs were undesirable everywhere, even in Walmart parking lots.
Another uncomfortable situation was the story in the Sahara when the car didn't start, we were stuck in an old cemetery and we were far from the road.
Then there is Kazakhstan with the corrupt police officers who hurled at us from all sides like hornets to pull the money out of our pockets.
But that was actually what we experienced as unpleasant things.
We turned our thoughts to the positive experiences. And we both believe that it was our most beautiful year, our most intensive, we have learned so much, also about ourselves. We have seen so much. we can basically only advise that you overcome your fears and break out of the comfort zone in which you are in Germany. Where a lot is safe and regulated, but it doesn't take that much courage to just look at the world, which is so beautiful, indescribable.
Nice, varied, diverse. we have images in our heads, experiences that will have a lasting positive impact on the rest of our lives.
As the year that we have taken as a time-out is now coming to an end and this year influences our old life, our thoughts are running in circles, how we will shape our future life now. Back to the treadmill? Hang on for another year? Maybe living in Portugal for a while? Slowly the carousel in our minds begins, which is the right way. It has been so beautiful what we experienced, that makes it difficult for us to go back to "normal" life.
Day 286, May 6, 2019 135.735 km
We are facing the border with others and will probably cross it today. We will have no internet for the time being. We are healthy, we are fine, we are full of anticipation, of course we are still cautious and sensitive. Everyone can do it ;-))
What is slower than slow?
When we moved back to the border at 8 a.m., there were already 5 cars in front of us and around 9 a.m. the Russian border opened. When we were assured that we could go back if the Mongolian border was still closed, we decided to cross the Russian border. That took 15 minutes. We had to go to a separate building, the passports were checked, as always we were asked about our travel destination, everything was copied, the car was "left" beforehand (but we still have our customs document as we are coming back to Russia ) and then we were already out of Russia. The car was checked superficially, 3 compartments opened, the dog found no interest. Even our medication was only briefly inspected, but since we had certificates with us, they just accepted it without hesitation. Then we were allowed to continue 26 km. Arrived at a checkpoint, a quick look in the car and then the Russian gate opened and we either continued to walk on no man's land or already Mongolian soil for 5 km, we don't know. The road down will be Mongolian because it was just a dirt road.
Good bye Russia, we will be back !! We liked it very much!!
It continues in the blog "Mongolia"