Saturday, 22 June 2019

UFA, Russia, Saturday 22nd June 2019
A misnomer if ever there was one...the car park is full of cars up on jacks, wheels off, bonnets up as everyone tries to effect repairs. We came into the city of Ufa about 4pm yesterday afternoon, unloaded our luggage and went straight to a workshop. About 5 other cars there as well. Here we replaced a lower ball joint, replaced 3 tie rod ends, tightened the drop arm on the steering box by way of a shim under the nut. We also cobbled together a new shock absorber lower mount using bolts, spacers and sleeves. The sleeves came from a length of steel tube which happened to be in our tool box. We also grabbed a pair of tyres which had come off the BMW as they had a full new set delivered and were throwing out the old ones. After hammering the dried mud from inside the wheels which had dried like concrete these new used tyres were fitted and a full wheel alignment carried out. We are particularly grateful to the crew of the Alfa Spider who provided the lower ball joint and 2 of the tie rod ends. We got back to the hotel at 9pm, just in time for dinner but satisfied that the car is ready to go again on Sunday morning.

Since our last post we have spent four nights in Kazakhstan, having our last camping night  at Balkhashino where it seems all the local residents invaded the camp site wanting to talk and take photos. Our final camp called for a celebration so Bill & Kathy rigged up a canopy to their Mercedes which was dubbed the gin & tonic tent. BYO chairs and drink.
coffee table gin and scotch

Throughout Kazakhstan it has been the same. People gather to see the cars and families bring their children. The car parks are so full of people looking, talking, photographing that anyone trying to do car repairs has a difficult job as people want to talk or help or ask questions.
Our first night in Kazakhstan was at Pavlodar then on to Astana the next night. Astana has changed its name to Nur Sultan and is an amazing city. Whilst the rest of the country is sparsely populated and seems very poor, Astana is a big city with ultra modern buildings. We didn't see much of this city as there was a torrential downpour just after we arrived. Our final night in Kazakhstan was at Kostanay.
A lot of the houses are built from logs as we passed vast forests of pollarded trees. Much of the land is uncultivated and apart from wheat didn't see any crops growing, yet we have had ample fruit and vegetables throughout. Next day we crossed back again into Russia and on to Bannoe Lake. The resort at the lake is set among silver birch trees with accommodation in two storey buildings. Lots of  Russian families on holidays there.

We had some interesting competitive stages in Kazakhstan, timed sections on narrow tracks across paddocks. One shocking test was through a muddy section where cars slip slided their way through. Our car at the finish was a lovely shade of brown, in fact from the side it looked like a cardboard cut out. Some helpful locals were at the end of the stage with watering cans, buckets of water to get the worst of the mud off.

Back in Russia we've had a couple of track tests where there is a minimum and a maximum time. Our times on these have been respectable.

camping gin tent in blue

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