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Published: October 1st 2014
That was my dinner on the table. I thought it was the starter! Good thing my stomach has shrunk by then and I actually was full after eating that meal. Reasons for the fuzzy picture were because my hands were shaking from hunger and possibly because of the encounters with so many different policemen all in one day.
I am now located in Russia with the Caspian sea to my right and the Black sea to my left.
This morning I set the SatNav for a city called Astrakhan so that I can head to the Russia - Kazakhstan border crossing. So I headed Northwest on the E117 until it reached E50 somewhere between Georgiyevsk and Mineralnye Vody.
Halfway through my journey I was stopped by the local Police in a blue and white Lada to check my documents and the contents of my car. After 10 minutes of talking to me in Russian and I replied with my blank ‘I don’t know what you are talking about’ expression, they finally let me continue my journey. I had to be very polite to them because they were not carrying pistols but Kalashnikovs, automatic rifles invented by the famous Lieutenant-general Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov who died only recently.
A few hours later, I came across a road side checkpoint and I waved over to stop. I had to visit an officer to have my documents checked. This officer then pointed at my bulging trouser pocket and made the gesture of a pistol and I shook my head and
ГОСТИНИЦА in the picture means 'Hotel'. D'oh! Did not know it at the time.
took out the offending credit and debit card holder. He then asked me where I was going and I muttered “Astrakhan”. Only then did he let me go.
By the time I arrived at somewhere near Georgiyevsk, it was late and I started to look for a place to stay for the night by driving around the town - guess what? I got stopped by another police car. You can see the rather repetitive pattern here. This time it was slightly different, the police established that I was a lost tourist looking for a hotel to stay for the night. Next thing I knew I was asked to follow the police car. Fearing the Kalashnikov and the car was too slow for a quick getaway, I followed them for about 2 minutes and ended up in what appeared to be a prison compound. One policeman jumped out and stood next to the big heavy sliding iron gate holding his Kalashnikov, the other pushed opened the gate and waved me in to what appears to be a car park with lots of old and dilapidated vehicles. At that point. I got scared and panicked, this is not a hotel, this
The big metal sliding gates - entrance to the ГОСТИНИЦА. Not the police station as I imagined at the time.
is a police station or detention camp. Decision time, do I go in quietly or do I scram. It turns out to be a simple decision, the car was too slow for a quick getaway and I did not want to end up full of bullet holes before I reach China, so I did the sensible thing and drove in to the building and parked the vehicle. The gate closed and the police left. I was greeted by a Russian gentleman who showed me around what was the ‘tourist reception facility’, much to my relief. The rooms were not up to my standards so I opted to sleep on the roof of my vehicle, it was much cheaper and cleaner. £4 or about 250 roubles a night.
I was shown to the restaurant and I made a gesture for a ‘big dinner’. The nice Russian lady nodded and I sat down to relax after a hard day on the road. What came out of the kitchen was a small plate of macaroni with two chicken wings and some bread. There was tea in a big tea pot.
After dinner, I thought I would go out for a stroll
My bed for the night. I felt very safe that night because of the big iron gates and policemen in every street corner.
to stretch my legs a little. Guess what? I was stopped by the police again. After checking my documents they let me go, so I hurriedly went back to the ‘hotel’ and stayed there until the next morning.
I was very dirty, smelly and covered in dust, I decided to wash both me and the clothes I was wearing. A lot of dirt came off me and my clothing and I felt clean for the first time in days. I dried my clothing’s by hanging them on my car and I crawled into my tent and slept there. At least I felt safe there because there were so many police around.
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