Tuesday, 30 August 2011

To Asia by truck

Saturday August 20th

Rather a jump in time, as I have been in the UK for two months organising the next leg of the ride. One of the main excitements has been the acquisition of a back up lorry with a basic living area, partly sponsored by Gwyn Williams of local company Tristar trucks. It is an old Mercedes, as I need something which is reliable and can be mended easily in the middle of nowhere - there are no electrics to worry about. Gwyn made sure the lorry mechanics were gone over with a fine tooth comb, and has provided assorted spares including 4 spare wheels. It was a bit of a rush getting everything ready for my eventual departure for Kazakhstan on Sunday August 14th, but the basics are sorted, even though I did not have time to paint the walls of the living area.

At the last minute, old friend Anthony Frost decided to come along for the ride and share the driving, which I was most grateful for. We had an great six days drive out, particularly as Anthony is not one for roughing it, and we stayed in hotels all the way including a marvellously bling Ukrainian one - all that was missing was the gold taps - Anthony was in his element.

For Anthony it was all only marred by the night in the lorry outside an all night shop in Russia patronised by local drunks. We managed to cross all the borders without too much hassle, stay 'illegally' in a hotel in Astrakhan, and negotiate the pontoon bridge on the way to the Kazakhstan border.

As you can see below, Anthony enjoys his food, and I made sure we stopped at a roadside chaikhana in Kazakhstan so he could sample the local cuisine before we hit the expat world of Atyrau - here he is tucking in to a bowl of laghman.

And of course it had to happen - although the lorry flew like a bird for 3000 miles across Europe, we ran out of diesel only 12 miles from Atyrau - I blame Anthony.

We phoned Matt and Rowena for help, but in the meantime, a couple of good Samaritan Kazakh truck drivers stopped and sucked some diesel out of their tank to send us on our way!

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