Kyakhta (Russia), 05.10.2013
With the car checked up, food restocked and clothing cleaned, the time to move to the next adventure was ripe this morning. Weather wasn’t good as I drove out of town, and Irkutsk’s traffic signs drove me mad, but soon after breakfast I was on my way back through the forests towards Ulan Ude. I really hoped the sky would clear up after 10:00 or 11:00, as it so often had, to give me a chance to admire Lake Baykal properly. But I had no luck, the same rough, grey and distant sight as at the first encounter was what I got. Since a strong freezing wind blew and it kept raining, I didn’t leave the car to take pictures and just drove on.
While initial progress was slow due to quite some traffic outside of Irkutsk, after an hour the roads got emptier and I could move on faster. Since this stretch of land was familiar and there were no particular sights ahead, I started to listen to The Economist audio edition of this week as I pushed the pedal. I must say that having the time to listen to the news for some hours is a true luxury if I think of my last few years of life, and I really appreciated it. Not much happened for the rest of the day. At Ulan Ude I fuelled up, got stopped by police and the same reaction as in Central Asia (“I’m sorry I just speak English and have no idea to what you are telling me”) worked perfectly. In all three times today. After Ulan Ude I finally left the main road for the highway towards Mongolia and started to drive on unknown roads again. The sky was still grey and ugly, it was still cold, windy and rainy, and at one stope the wind slammed the door open as I got out of the car, making a cracking noise. The landscape got hilly and empty the more I drove on. Less cars were on the streets, few villages passed by. At the horizon I could see the sun go down beyond the clouds in a red light. 11km before the border Police stopped me to check my passport at a roadblock, I was entering frontier territory. Then I reached Kyakhta finally, the border town. At the order itself I was told they would open at 07:00 in the morning. I drove back into town to fuel up and find a hotel for the night. This place was a major military garrison, with plenty of tanks and artillery displayed on public squares and barrack gates. I found a place to stay, needless to complain about the conditions. But it had a shower. I walked around to find a restaurant but had no luck in this deserted place. So a picnic in the room had to do. Not a lot of action today, but a taste of what lied ahead in Mongolia: vast empty landscapes and not a lot to do if not admire nature and enjoy the silence and solitude. I hope I can sleep in the tent there though. There are no smelling bathrooms and filthy beds when camping.
– Km driven: 704
– Hrs on the road: 8,5h
– Diesel l/100km: 9,4
– Daily high: 9 degrees Celsius
– Daily low: -1 degrees Celsius