Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Day 45 Tuesday August 12th Severobaikalsk norther Russia

Started the day with pancake like sausage rolls for breakfast.

We then all walked into town over the railway line and through the station.

Trying to understand the arrivals and departures board in the station was an experience until we realised all the times were Moscow time which was displayed on a large clock right in the middle of the information board. So we eventually worked out that the No.92 train from Moscow scheduled to arrive at 08:36 actually arrives at 13:36 local time. So now confident that we could make the meeting with the person who will deliver our part from Moscow we decided to go into town and sample the delights of Severobaikalsk.

First Frank and Geoff went to the bank in the station to change another $2000 into Russian rubles. What a process that turned out to be. We were at the Kasse (cashiers counter) for 40 mins. All seemed to be going well she counted the dollars, examining every note on both sides, but then came to having to fill out her banks internal database. She didn't seem to know where to put all the data about passport number, visa number, immigration document details. She got a colleague to help, but this just seemed to double the confusion. A woman who was behind us waiting for the Kasse started to get agitated and when she complained to the woman struggling with the database got short shrift and told to stay in her place and when she gets round to her she'll get round to her! Next plan of attack was to phone her supervisor, this just tripled the problem. Anyway after 40 mins they gave up filling in the computer database form and just gave us the money, much to everyone's relief.

On into town and we walked about looking at markets and shops with an eye out for motorcycle places and hunting/fishing places to enquire about bear spray. One shop keeper gave us an address where she said we might get bear spray, and so we might take a taxi and explore this option later.

We then passed a group of about five caf├ęs one of which had a wifi internet sign so we decided to call in there and have a coffee. This lead to a chance meeting with a man called Vladimir who just happens to be an English teacher in Severobaikalsk.

We started talking to him explaining our journey and our present predicament regarding the shock absorber. He started to make a few phone calls and within a short period of time there were about four or five people in the cafe all trying to solve our problems. Inevitably we moved over from coffee and started to drink beer with these people. To cut a long story short we got well and truly blathered in the afternoon.

Axel (exSoviet Special forces who had served in Chechnia) introduced us to their preferred snack of dried and smoked fish, and how it should be ripped from the skin without any bones.

A man from a local bikers club arrived and he called some mechanic friends who arrived and then went with Paul and Dave and took the broken shock absorber off the bike. They have taken this away with a view to repairing it?? We await their return!

We then were invited by Alex (a Russian street fighter!), Vladimir and Sacha the one eyed owner of the cafe to go with them for an evening meal at a restaurant. From the outside you wouldn't know it was a restaurant unless you were told, but on the inside it was very smart. We then had beer, vodka and food well into the evening. Our Russian hosts would not accept any money from us when we tried to pay and so paid for all four of us.

At one point Axel and Dave had an arm wrestling match. Needless to say Axel won!!

Whilst in the restaurant we got texts from Denis Panferov telling us the person Svetlana, who will bring our new shock absorber, and the carriage number in which they are travelling etc. they are due to arrive on Saturday (four more days!).

Vladimir thinks we may have problems getting the parts delivered this way as there are strict rules about not accepting packages from strangers to be transported on the train. (Quite worrying is that we have now received a text from the train steward asking us to get in touch, and that he has our "bonderol" whatever that is??) we have since texted Denis back asking him whether he thinks we may have a problem?

He also thinks we have underestimated how long it will take us to get to Tynda along the BAM road!

We negotiated our way back to our hostel, Geoff went straight to sleep, the others had the dinner that had been kept for us by the woman who runs the hostel.

Paul and Dave stayed up very late (2-3 in the morning) talking to a Russian man who booked in very late, and then arranged for a bottle of brandy to be delivered by taxi!

More later

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  1. Hi Guys,
    Best blog yet! Russia hospitality at its best! Steph loves hearing about breakfast and the tip for the fish? Hope you get the bike sorted soon but this sounds like a place you can be stranded in for a day or two more.
    Hope you are back on the road again soon
    Steph and Jo x

  2. Your guys are my hero's!! Ostrovia