In the morning we used the overlap into Russia on our Ukraine road atlas to plot a route to the first big town. We stopped at every garage on the way hoping to find a Russian one (one garage hosting two camels in an outside area), but where they did have any the scales were ridiculous, so once we were in the town we searched for wifi, found a hotel, and went to check in.
We’ve mentioned before that we have been staying in rather a lot of hotels of late, but into a new country it is essential we acquire a road atlas, have internet to plot our route, exchange money/assess how much we need, food shop, etc etc. It’s a lot of work.
Outside what we thought was the hotel, a man from a shop in the building came over to talk to Kieran (hey Alexander!), he spoke a bit of English, enough to understand what we were doing, and offered us a place to store our carts whilst we were at the hotel. Once Arjun came out after checking prices, he led us around the back where the storage was, where a rather stern looking policeman stopped us and asked to check the carts and our passports. It took a good 10mins, with the policeman returned to his car and making a couple of phone calls, but eventually he let us continue, and Alexander showed us where to put our carts, then offered us to come down for a coffee later. Really nice guy and we accepted. The lady in the hotel was also lovely, and very understanding of our total lack of Russian, playing a good game of charades.
We dropped off stuff in the room and headed out to get some food and find an atlas. We found food, bought razors, and saw a kid imitate us walking with the carts to his friends as we walked behind.
Returning to the hotel we were kind of lackadaisical about the atlas, and began sorting out the money and putting together videos, enjoying the comfort of the hotel, when Alexander came knocking shortly after. Asking if he could help in someway, we asked if he knew anywhere we could buy an atlas, to which we replied with “wait 15mins”, and disappeared. A little confused, we did so, and when he returned it was with two quality atlases, one for Russia, and one for Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan! We then went down to his shop with him for a coffee and a chat, and as well as going over his bicycle trip photos and laughing about borderwalk, he also got onto Yandex (a Ukrainian Google), rang up his Kazakhstan friends and plotted out a short, safe route through both countries! An amazing help and a good laugh, he gave us loads of good advice and even offered to pick us up and drive us some of the way, which we had to decline (thanks again for all the help Alexander, we will return!).
As it began to get late we said goodnight and returned to our room (to do the videos and blog), extremely grateful for Alexanders help and hospitality, and not too long afterwards we had another knock on the door. A man was outside with a huge box of walnuts, telling us “no sell!”, and making gestures to simply take as many as we wanted! Obliging, we pulled out a plastic bag which he deemed too small, so he went to get a larger one and fill it for us. Very friendly, he explained to us he was Alexanders friend and wished us luck before saying goodbye.
This has been one amazing week, we’ve met soo many amazing people and it has literally been crazy! We have been told that the route we’re taking has little to no wifi however, so although we do repeatedly mention it might be a while before our next posts, only to have new ones at the end of the week, this time it really may be a while. Remember that you can subscribe and receive email alerts (top right of this page) when we post new content, you can follow us on twitter where we try to tweet our location daily and link to all new content, and you can subscribe to our youtube also. Thanks for reading, sorry for the lack of a photo!