Away at 9.30am we dropped into fog at a cool 66 degrees F outside temperature.
Within ten minutes we were pulled over by the police and for the first time the officer inspected all our papers and asked in broken English, "Where we were going and where was our home?" He then sent us on our way. As Australians we find it hard to accept the extraordinary police presence on the roads – every few minutes we saw the police pull someone over by waving their black and white striped batons or their radar guns.
We crossed the Ural Mountains Divide at 2,681 ft – we were now in Asia.
We had started on the American continent, crossed the continent of Europe and now we were on our third continent. Within an hour we had dropped out of the Ural Mountains to the flat plains of Siberia – at around 500ft above sea level. We were now passing huge open fields of wheat, all perfectly sown.
As we approached Chelyabinsk the GPS and the signs took us a really weird way through the city itself.
We found this rather mysterious and will probably never know the reason. This extra detour had one advantage in that we came across an enormous Westfield-like modern shopping and theatre complex with seven movie theatres.
We went in and found a huge Wal-Mart style supermarket and bought some extra tools and rope to hold the spare wheel on in case it breaks off its mounting!! We also bought some lovely fresh Aussie style bread, fresh milk and fruit. We were trying to find out which milk was fresh as there were over a dozen different types all in Russian language.
We asked a number of people but no one spoke English, not one word. We were then amazed as we went through the checkout when the young lady spoke to us in perfect English. Apparently she had spent some time in the USA and we really appreciated being able to speak to her and find out that we had chosen the correct milk. We even had a cup of coffee and a cake in a modern, air conditioned café. The temperature outside was 86 degrees F.
We headed out onto the M51 towards Kurgan 271 klms away to the east. Looking down from the highway on the outskirts of Chelyabinsk we could see the Russian summer houses
The road was good, almost dead straight and the scenery was magnificent
so we kept driving, not stopping until 7.50pm at a truck stop at the Russian village of MNWKNHO.
The couple who ran the truckers restaurant were very friendly, even though we had no language in common except smiles and hand gestures, they readily agreed to allow us to plug our 220 volt power lead into an outlet in their storeroom so we are now sitting in air conditioned comfort in our Earthroamer.
We have found all the way across Russia, the people we have met have been so friendly and helpful to us. Everyone has a smile and they are very interested in our world trip and the fact that we are from Australia.
We have noticed that the Russian truck drivers are incredibly professional, courteous and move back to let us or even a small Lada car in. We haven’t seen a hint of road rage which you see in other countries.
Who knows, maybe Kazakhstan tomorrow!