“Australia” I said proudly, knowing he would be very impressed.
“I been there two times. I been to Pert and Sydney”
“Did you like it?” I asked smuggly (of course he loved it)
“Too many rules,” he answered, “here better, more free”
He did have a point. There were no signs every 100 meters telling us what to do in case we’d been driving more than 5 minutes and were exhausted, many of the speed cameras were empty and the driving is definitely more free style. Makes one wonder what other nanny state constrictions we have that we may not be aware of any more. And Russia is supposed to be autocratic!!!!
Wheelchair access in Omsk
After driving for 9 hours and 659 kms we arrived in Novosibirsk from the Alti Republic to cheer leaders, music and many people standing on the road waiting for us to arrive. My goodness, we did feel special!! The mayor of Novosibirsk loves having the rally in his city and the people loved all the cars. Especially the girls.
The difference between China and Russia is marked. In China it was impossible to get the Internet as Google was banned, there were cameras everywhere flashing at us and the young people were not aware of any problems with Tibet. There was a definite information blanket (so to speak). The young people were obsessed with selfies, all the cars were new and expensive, everyone had a smart phone and the acres and acres of modern high rise apartment blocks were breathtaking. China had a shiny surface.
Siberia Is very different. No fancy BMW’s here. It’s more like East Germany before the wall came down with Lada’s, Wolgas, old Fords and Nissans. Certainly the people more serious and down to earth and the smiles in the shops are not as forthcoming yet many people are also very friendly and interested. One has the feeling that the Russians here are authentic and life hasn’t changed much for a few years. In the country it must be a long hard winter with temperatures down to minus 40 degrees. The villages are small and far between, with wooden buildings which look as if they have been thrown together and would disappear in a blizzard.
We had a rest day in Novosibirsk and Gunther was busy with the car all day. He didn’t get much rest at all. He had to change all the oils which were filthy apparently (a bit like us after Mongolia), get the wheels balanced which is now a saga as he put the wrong settings on them and it has been like steering a ship on the high seas for the last two days. (Barry and Bruce, you will be interested in the ‘toe out’ problem), he had to also bang out the bent rims and weld the shock absorber towers. Finding a workshop was a bun fight as all the teams needed work done and it was like the rally, a competition. In the end and it was all done, after Gunther hunted down a spare hoist.
Now we’re in Tyumen after driving for 677 kms and at 9 at night, Gunther is out getting the wheels aligned again and tomorrow we head to Yekaterinburg. There were no time trials today or yesterday because of weather and bad planning.
Siberia is full of Birch forests, something I never knew!!!!