There are a few things that kept me interested and wake on the M59 besides truck drivers, the scenery and bumping into the reindeer herders, the chipmunks. These little guys run across the road often stopping half way, turn around and run back. I love seeing them as they are quite cute and more of them seem to have come out after the rain. I could however not really figure out what they were up to i.e. why did the chipmunk cross the road? Soon I began to figure it out… chipmunk Russian roulette that is the only explanation, I’m not joking what else could it be. They could be suicidal chipmunks but there are too many for that and I find it hard to believe that life in beautiful Siberia would lead so many chipmunks to try top themselves. I think that if I looked hard enough in the bushes every time I missed one of the little buggers running across the road I’d see a whole bunch of them with mini chipmunk roubles betting on the outcome. Well I’m glad to say I never squished one 🙂
The one thing I am really finding is that Russia is a whole lot more expensive than expected. The minute you walk into a guest house the price triples. Now I know that this happens everywhere, but although a small increase in price for tourists is expected in Russia it states to take on the ridiculous. After leaving Yakutsk with 6000 roubles (about 150 USD) I thought I’d be fine until the next big town, I could however not find a working ATM in Tynda so not too worried as I also had dollar son me I head off again to Chita roughly just over 1000km away. The first part of the road about 250km is the usual M56 bad dirt road with friendly people who assure m I am on the right road (the GPS isn’t working and the map got soaked so is almost illegible and of course the FEW road signs are in Russian, so navigating is not easy, hence the reason ). Well eventually the M56 turns into the M58 and it’s a beautiful smooth (yup no potholes this is like the Ritz of roads) tarmac highway. I am in heaven and just let the Dizzy go and WOW the sun starts shining this is going to be a glorious day.
Well the interesting thing about this road is that the odd (very few) dinners have very few people in them and the owners are not friendly and the road does not go through any towns you must turn off about 2 to 3 km to get to a town and the people are not very friendly either. I found this so strange. I also could not find a working ATM I am convinced this is not my card as I have 3 and none of them are working and I know I have money in them. I fill up use my second last 500roubles to do so and my lat 500rooubles to get a room in yet another flea bitten place. I have managed to persuade the not so nice of an owner that I will get to the ATM tomorrow and get her the rest of her money as she won’t take dollars. What is interesting is that the room was originally 500roubles, but once I actually pulled out the money the price went to 700 but I’m desperate, and 200 short.
I know the tiny bank won’t exchange dollars or give me money out of my visa as I already tried but fortunately they closed just as I was walking out so the guest house owner has no clue I was there already. I just hope I can get money out tomorrow or I am seriously up shits creek. The owner is the least of my problem what worries me is getting gas to get me to a big enough town with a decent bank.