Day 12: Russian Border to Aya

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Day 12-CAMP on the Russian Border and into Russia

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I have hot shots, what a great invention. 

Last night was freezing someone said minus ten. I wore everything I had, used my hot shots at 4 am. Still was frozen. We had ice on the tent everywhere, but amazingly we were able to sleep amongst the cacophony of snoring men. Everyone is coughing from the sand and all our noses are stuffed so the snores are loud.

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Had ice on my sleeping bag around my Eskimo face opening of the sleeping bag. It was cold. Tony said I looked like a blow hole from a whale. Got out slowly, we had heard many get into their cars during the night and start their engines to try and keep warm

We changed our clocks last night and were told to go out in our original car order so with some attrition ahead we are number 23 instead of 26 to cross the border.

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There are 22 disabled cars but not sure how many are fully retired. There are two teams who bought new cars to continue. The Delage is out a baby blue car from the early 20's and number 9 and 5 are sharing a car. but they joined us back at camp for dinner

Up even earlier this morning and thankfully no wind, what a thrill. The water at the sinks or tubes is frozen solid as is the small stream that runs by the camp site. Frost is on our tent too. We head out in order for the border people mostly about 17 km and stop at the Mongolian border where we are treated to entering a yurt to do some money changing. Inside live about 12 people. We are offered a type of sweet tea cookies and after some time they want us to try their fermented cheese. Oh my god it tastes strong. Tony eats the cookie but doesn't take the tea. Wonder why! Trying to be hospitable but afraid of the milk. We do some money changing with an official beside them. Not sure why, or if they were getting a piece of the action. We switched our Mongolian to rubles. 

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It took two hours to cross out of Mongolia then two hours to get through the Russian border. Being sniffed by dogs, checked for the flu asked if we are carrying drugs. Separated by the police. It was interesting.

Prior to entering Russia, we cross into No-mans land after leaving the border police of Mongolia. There is an area of 17 miles where Mongolia and Russia dispute. So currently this area belongs to know one. Interesting to say the least. The roads were terrible too.

Tony speaks a little Russian and we are quickly whisked through. It sure made a difference. Same at the money changers in Mongolia, they spoke a little Russian so it made all the difference.

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Crossing we head onto a beautiful scenic road and into the Alti mountains. My gosh they are beautiful.  A stark contest from where we came from. A cross between BC and Switzerland and we just kept dropping in altitude so the clothes started to peel off.  The road was civilized, except for the number of animals who appear to own the road at times. We only had one timed stage TS and when we arrived they cancelled it due to bad off road conditions and the lateness of the day. We didn't really start the day until mid day and we had to drive 590 km. the roads were wonderful but its still a long way and we are all fatigued and filthy.  The small towns are amazing lined with people with cameras. The political party in the area is really keen to promote tourism so they have everyone out on mass to greet us. I must say it really is gorgeous country and warm too.

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We arrive at Aya and again we are overwhelmed by the crowds, it's kind of neat, being asked for autographs and a journalist asked me what it was like to be a woman in the race.

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I said we need toilets, haha. It can be a real pain. Guys have it so much easier it seems. All the woman are complaining.

By dinner and a long shower I search for news on Jenny but know one knows what she is doing. Could be on route or on a tow truck. We are off to bed. Surprisingly the hotel looks nice but the beds are lumper than our blow-ups and the walls paper thin.  Doesn't matter we sleep like babies.  I shower again in the morning.

Lee-Ann 🏁

Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

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© Anthony Strelzow 2013