One long journey

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).

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The vodka train

With the boat to Olkon cancelled, it was on to a marshrutka, picked up at the doorstep, at 6.45am. It was a quicker journey than expected, arriving at Ulan Ude by 11.15. A quick lunch and back on to the next marshrutka for another 7 hours to Irkutsk. Now I’ve had some bad (scary) drivers in my time, but this dude was a very good contender for a gold medal. At one stage, fairly early in the piece, he seemed to be driving on the opposite side of the road to avoid a bumpy looking section of asphalt. It was a little more in depth than that though. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’, well this dude’s motto was ‘the pavement is always smoother on the other side!’ He spent almost HALF of the time on the wrong side of the road. Oncoming traffic, hills, corners – nothing seemed to phase him. And he certainly wasn’t driving slow. We were overtaking everyone, again oncoming traffic, hills, corners… all while talking on the mobile phone! We made it to Irkutsk in just over 7 hours, which would suggest that you have to drive like a madman just to stick to schedule.
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