Tomorrow we leave Kazakhstan and again despite everyone telling us we would be pulled over constantly and hassled by police we did not get pulled over even once and in fact the police we saw never gave us a second look. That said we did follow the posted signs to the letter just like the locals. When it says 30 km/h they ARE going 30. We were never stopped in Kyrgyzstan either.
Today we want to get half way to Novosibirsk as Orvar has arranged service at BMW there in 2 days time. This means at least 450 km and the border. Our objective was Tatarsk in 461 km as we knew there were a few hotels listed here.
We are not sure what to expect for the border crossing as we have heard it can take up to 4 hours. Our friend Wolfgang crossed from Latvia yesterday and he said it was 2 1/2 hours. We do not have to do customs clearance since we did it when we entered the “customs” zone in Kyrgyzstan and this covers us to the Mongolian border. It is 126 km from Petropavl to the border of Kazakhstan on a mostly good paved road.
When you arrive at the gate you pass the line of vehicles and go to the front. Here there is an officer in a booth who wants to see your passport, Kazakhstan tourist card, and customs form. They give you a small piece of paper to get stamped to give to the gate guard on exit. They then let 5-6 vehicles thru the gate at a time to drive 200 m to the border station. Here you park and go inside to get the passport exit stamp. Back outside the officers have dogs and very briefly look in the boxes. Interestingly they have never at any border asked to look in Trevor’s top box or Dan’s Tank bag. Then you are free to go, but first they wanted a photo of us and so we got one too. Now you ride 200 m to the gate and hand over the small scrap with the stamp.
You then pass the “you have crossed the border of the Russian federation” sign and you ride a km to the next gate. Here again you pass the line of vehicles and ride up to the gate. Here the officer wants to see your passport and Russian visa and hands over a tourist card to fill out. (ours was in English, but Wolfgang yesterday had only Russian…Much easier to fill in all the boxes for us). He even helped us to answer a few items that did not translate well. After he checks your work he also hands you the usual small scrap of paper for the exit. We had to wait a few minutes before we got thru the gate to ride 300 m to the border station. Here you go in and hand over your passport, tourist card, and vehicle registration and get an entry stamp. Outside the officers wanted to look thru the luggage and even wanted to look under Dan’s seat ( a first). They asked me if I had a gun or narcotics….UH no. They were all very friendly, warm, and nice…. not as advertised at all. All done in under an hour. You ride 300 m to the exit gate and the young officer was very smily and friendly taking our small stamped paper and welcoming us to Russia.
Just outside the gate are several trailers where you can buy your vehicle insurance. This is 15 USD for a month and the 3 of us all had it done in 20 min. Orvar has a green card and it is valid in Russia.
Now to make some miles as we have 335 km to go and it is 12 noon. The road is very good and 2 lanes, but there is a lot of truck traffic. We stopped in Marjanowka 110 km from the border and drove 5 km to the town centre as there was a bank there to get Rubles so we could get some lunch.
Gas stations take visa, but sometimes the cashier will not let you use it unless you pray the exact number of laters and so you always have to have cash as back up. You hand them your biggest bill and say full and they usually will turn on the pump. Making friends at the gas station as usual.
From here there is several sections with construction stoppages but we managed to time them pretty well to get to the front of the line when it was our directions turn to go. We had to stop for break from the droning monotony about 100 km from Tatarsk and picked ourselves up with an ice cream. The town is off the highway about 8 km and we headed for one of the places listed in the GPS. It had enclosed parking and was clean and pretty cheap. 11$ each with breakfast.
We had a very comfortable night actually and after adjusting all our devices we are all on the correct time now. Today we have another long, straight, and boring 475 km to Novosibirsk.
There is a lot of truck traffic and a 2 lane road. There are several stoppages for construction, but we got lucky all day with minimal waits. We found a good truck stop about 2 for a cafeteria lunch.
The ride into the city was remarkably painless even at 5 pm on a Thursday night we only had bad congestion for a very short time. Orvar had booked us a hotel on a quiet dead end street and the parking was a private locked garage inside the underground parking with a locked door. So double secure as requested!! Now to toast with some Vodka of course.
The other nice thing is there is a very trendy and hip restaurant 1 block away with live music.
Today is errand day. Orvar’s 800 was in for “20,000 km BMW Certified service” and the 650 to check out why the new speed sensor is on the fritz. (They said they reset the sensor, but the light was back on 4 blocks later and still is). Yesterday the dash was a Christmas tree with the red Sensor warning, the yellow bulb warning, and the blue high beam warning. The bulb went today, but we got a Bosch one at the gas station to replace it today. There is no way they did anything but change the oil. The plastics were not off for sure. This is the air filter they said they replaced when we took it out 3 days later in Barnaul.
We then all walked 2 km to the alpine store for Orvar to get a sleep sac and warm socks to combat his summer sleeping bag issue and then to the mall for some new T shirts= throw out old ones.
Then back to our Fav spot!
For a bit of sight seeing today we took a taxi across the river about 13 km for 3$ to the Glory Memorial to WW2.
Then we sorted the metro out for the ride back. This meant we could make a second trip to the mall as Dan had not found anything yesterday.
Another memorial near the hotel.
We had an amazingly good Japanese meal also vert near the hotel.