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Diary Last Updated: Jun 16th, 2015 - 16:51:13

Stage 5 - Day 58
By Dick and Pip Smith
Jul 9, 2007, 22:32

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Just before we departed the truck stop, Dick went into the restaurant to pay for the parking and the use of the power for the night.  No - the young man insisted that it was free.  This was just another example of the wonderful friendliness of the Russian people.
It was 78 degrees F, sunny with no cloud as we cruised along at 80kph in the Earthroamer.
There were less police present today and a lot less trucks on the road. This is the first day that we were not pulled over by the police.  We drove past huge ploughed fields with occasional breaks of trees, magnificent countryside, similar to Northern Canada.
As we skirted around Kurgan we noticed small cafes beside the road with smoking barbecues beside - the free enterprise system is stepping in!
We noticed the Next G phone worked with a strong signal even here in western Siberia.

From our previous experience in Moscow we knew that the cost of the Next G was about $13.00 per minute where as our trusty Iridium Satellite phone only cost $1.50 per minute.  We have two Iridium antennas mounted on the Earthroamer, one connected to a wire in the cab and the other connected in the camper.  It is by Iridium that we are sending this daily text and photographs.

At 2.05pm we arrived at the Russian check point.
Once again hardly any English was spoken - at one stage we drove right through a check point without knowing it however 20 minutes later we were sent back to get the special form stamped.  After one hour of paperwork we were into no mans land and entered Kazakhstan.
Fortunately Dick found a friendly border guard who spoke reasonable English.  He told us where to line up with our vehicle and to wait.
After about an hour we were let through and then everything happened quickly. We were taken to an English speaking customs officer who sat us in his air conditioned office and kindly filled in all our forms for us.  Considering the forms were only in Russian (or Kazak?) this was a great help but we were none the wiser to what we were actually signing.  The Customs officer had completed a language degree at university, spoke excellent English and was extremely friendly.

After a quick glance inside the Earthroamer mainly to marvel at the kitchen sink we were on our way.  Total time for the border crossing was two and a half hours.  Not bad considering that other travellers have reported spending a whole day to cross a Russian border.

We are now in Kazakhstan, a new country for both of us.
The scenery was much the same, newly sown fields, intermingled with groups of trees.
On the outskirts of Petropavlovsk we pulled into a service station-cum-restaurant-cum-truck repair yard.
They readily allowed us to plug our 220 volt power lead in and in the background we could hear grinders and welders as mechanics repair an old car carrier.
Everyone is very friendly and made us feel very welcome.

Today 356 klms
        20,821 km Total since Anchorage Alaska

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