Now in Siberia (WELL IT IS RUSSIA) as “ILENA” would say

29th May 2014.  We are in Siberia.

From leaving Moscow until now things have been pretty uneventful just driving 8,9,or 10 hours each day covering on average around 500 Km a day on the same road, almost like pointing Plodd east then sitting back and letting the roads shake her to bits and the Russian drivers are the most dangerous I have ever seen. It makes the Thai drivers look like they know what they are doing.

Just one thing that happened was on the third day in transit we were powering up a steep hill and Les said look all the wagon drivers are stopping and getting out with their water carriers there must be somewhere to fill them. We stopped and I could see that they were filing their bottles at a fast flowing stream. I asked one of the truck drivers if the water was safe to drink and he said yes, so I took our 25Lt fresh/drinking water carrier to the spring and filled it from this natural spring, the water was icy cold.

We reached the capital of Siberia, Novosibirsk, as we drove in we saw the Mercedes Truck and Car Dealership on the left so we pulled in to ask about having Plodd serviced. I also asked about having a look at the diesel heater as the night before it was pouring smoke out, they said ok they would. I then told Andy the warranty manager that we would go into the city to find a hotel then bring Plodd back and leave her with them for the two days. I also asked if they could get me a new door catch/opener for the drivers door as I can’t open the door from the inside, oh and Plodd had been making a screeching sound when putting the steering on full lock (I thought this was the power steering belt wanting tightening) anyway just before leaving Andy said that the garage would help with getting a hotel. They got Lisa from the office to come down to the service area to interpret and then she took over one of the computers to show me the local hotels. She tried to book many hotel rooms by email then by phone but they were all fully booked. Eventually she found one, she called them, made the booking, and then Andy said leave Plodd here with us and I will run you to the hotel. Just before leaving the service manager came to Andy and said it would take three days to get the oil and diesel filters as they would have to come from Moscow. I told them I had some with me so they said they would use those.

On the second day I had a call from Andy saying that the door catch had to come from Belgium and it would take three weeks, I asked if I paid for it could they get it delivered to a Merc agent further into our journey, answer sorry no, anyway that was that.

I must say that the staff at the dealership were fantastic, but Andy for all the running about and his English and Lisa that spent lots of time booking the hotel and interpreting I must say a very big thank you. Merc would do well to continue its European 24 hour parts guarantee in Russia.

Also Andy congratulations on you promotion to car service manager I know you will do a great job.

We dined out both nights in Novosibirsk first night in a steakhouse called Goodmans food was pretty good but very expensive the second night we tried a Russian restaurant the starters were good but the main coarse never arrived even after I had drawn them pictures (photo’s of drawing to follow).

We are now on our way to Lake Baikal, this lake is the deepest lake in the world at 1637m deep and 636 km long it contains more fresh water than North Americas five great lakes put together. In fact it has one fifth of the worlds unfrozen fresh water and in the winter months when the temperature drops to as low as -45c you can get a taxi to drive across the lake or if you are daft you can hire a motorbike and ride across.

2nd June 2014

We are at this moment in time close to the city of Krasnojarsk east of Novosibirsk (come on kids get the maps out) sitting in a truck stop and across the road there is a young lady called Ilena selling DVD’s and CD’s from her car. I went over to look at the CD’s that are balanced on her car bonnet in boxes and just asked, do you speak English, her reply wasn’t what I expected, she said yes of course, we stood and had a nice chat for about half an hour, I made her a cup of coffee , what a nice girl and she has stories from the many places she has visited around the world.

Les and I have had no internet even though we have both paid for it on our Russian sim cards.  I asked Ilena if she would look at the balance for me, she has contacted the provider and had both cards reset so we can use them anywhere in Russia.

Ilena’s favorite saying is” WELL IT IS RUSSIA” she uses this mainly when something is not working or going wrong!!!

Today we are having a rest day, doing any repairs that need doing to Plodd and the washing, we have found that if we stop at the truck stops that have motel’s or hotel’s you can pay for them to do your washing. The repairs are from Plodd being shook to bits on the Russian roads, the odd screw that has fallen out and on the passenger side of Plodd the side panel screws had come loose so I will drill and rivet the panel to the corner panel then seal it with sealant.

The weather in Russia is unbelievable when we left Moscow it was close to 40c and as you would expect we had T shirt’s and shorts on. We have been moving East all the time and this morning (1st June) we awoke to the sound of rain on the roof of Plodd, only to find that when I opened the cabin door it was snow! I think we will be the first people on Plodds web site to have seen snow falling in June.

Another bit of info, as you know we have replaced most of the tyres and I contacted Michelin tyres in the UK for advice on tyre pressures, they put me in contact with there guy called Dan. Well Dan has been more than helpful, doing all the calculations from the axle weights that I sent him. We had Plodd weighed first front axle, then back axle, then with both axles .I gave him all the details he asked for and in return he sent me the required tyre pressures front and back.he people that actually fitted the new tyres were miles out (about 20% to high). So thank you Dan for taking time to help us.
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