1 (August 25): We arrived in Novosibirsk at 05.20 a.m. and met up with the
tour company’s next representative, Tatiana. We took our baggage to a Russian
ex military ambulance and met the driver, Mischa. Thirsty, we had to show our
passports at the door of the airport building to get back in to buy bottled
water and visit the toilet.
had a rest at the hotel in Novosibirsk until about lunchtime, then we went to
a restaurant for something to eat. We had been asked to bring money with us to
pay for the holiday in dollars, but were told that we needed to change it into
roubles straight away, so we drove to a couple of bureaux until we had found
enough roubles to change all our cash. Then we drove for hours, with the roads
getting increasingly rough, had a light meal at a restaurant by the roadside
and drove on again until it was dark.
Then we stopped for our
evening meal at another roadside restaurant and Daddy hurt his cut finger when
he trapped it in the roof vent of the van. The road was so dusty it was making
breathing difficult, so we tried to get the windows and vents shut quickly.
The one in the roof was spring loaded and landed heavily on the tip of the
finger just where the cut was. It bled so profusely, Daddy couldn’t hold on to
it with both hands and it dripped on the floor. The restaurant had a karaoke
bar and everyone sat and listened to the locals while Daddy went to the loo to
wash and dress the wounded finger. He wasn’t too impressed with the
facilities. We were still relying on Tatiana’s advice for what to choose from
the menu, but we were communicating better and enjoyed what we ordered.
we drove until it was very late, finally arriving, in the dark, at a hotel in
the capital of the Altai region, Gornoaltaysk. We had driven about 520 km. The
receptionist was more like a security guard and the facilities were very
‘Soviet’. Mummy and Daddy’s room was quite large but only had a single bed, so
they had to make up another on the sofa for Mummy.