Our time in Artybash reminded me of an old Johnny Cash song, “How high’s the water, Dasha?” “5m deep and rising.” On the way there we were worried that the marshrutka wouldn’t get through the water over the road. Over the 4 days we spent there, we watched the level rise another few hundred millimetres. When it came time to leave (8.30am approximately exactly) and our bus didn’t show up, there was all sorts of rumours floating around the town. We were having serious concerns that we would miss our connecting train to Moscow, so it was time to try our luck hitch hiking again (without the dog).
We got a lift quite quickly in one of the big old Russian 4WDs that we’d seen everywhere, so was pretty excited about that. The flooding over the road was so much worse than when we went in, but we got through without any problems, as far as Verkh-Biysk.
Now this is just a fork in the road, not an actual town, but within about 20 minutes we were uncomfortably in the back of a van (no seats) bouncing our way for an hour back to Gorno Altaisk. Step 1 of our long journey complete. Next, after a private car tried to rip us off, it was on to a marshrutka for 2 hours to Biysk, with David Boon as our driver.
Had a couple of hours to wander through the markets and find ‘the best’ shashlik in town (as voted by our trusty travel guide). Deliciously cold would be the fairest way to describe it. The journey continued with an overnight train to Novosibirsk. A couple of hours wait in the very warm morning sun and it was back on a train, this time for 2 days straight. By now we’ve already spent quite some time on trains and to be honest, fairly much over it, with the scenery neither spectacular nor contrasting, we hardly even looked out the window. We arrived into Moscow early in the morning, more than 72 hours after our departure. We started heading towards where we would be staying. After a couple of calls we got through to our host, who had forgotten we were coming and now had other friends staying with him and couldn’t host us any more. Not exactly what you need to hear after a monster journey. We found a cafe with internet a sat there for a couple of hours. The beautiful couch surfing community came to our rescue with several offers. Once we got there and put down our backpacks, it felt like we had FINALLY arrived in Moscow.