Tuk to the Road

The trials and tukulations of Jo, Ants and Ting Tong the tuk tuk and our three-wheeled odyssey from Bangkok to Brighton...in aid of the mental health charity Mind. For more information please see www.tuktotheroad.com

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Rain, rain, go away……

2nd August, Samara (SW Russia)

It is 11am and I am sitting in bed listening to the deluge of rain falling on the windowsill outside. It really feels like we have been stuck in a typically bad English summer for the last 3 weeks. Neither of us expected weather like this and TT hates it even more than we do. After the episode when her sparks plugs got wet on the way to Yekaterinburg, we are now very wary of driving in wet conditions. Therefore, we will be staying a second night at the Hotel Ripoffski.

We left Ufa yesterday morning and it was my turn to drive first. Ufa is a very strangely designed city, being over 20km long and shaped like a dumbbell- it must be a total pain in the arse if you are a teenager and your best mates live the other end of the dumbbell. We followed signs to Samara and ended up on a scenic loop north of the city that added an extra 20km to our journey. We were driving along the M5 all the way from Ufa to Samara, but don’t think it is anything like the lovely motorway connecting the west country to the midlands. Actually, it wasn’t a particularly bad road. For the most part it was in good condition and we could drive at up to 65mph. On a couple of occasions the road had three lanes, but unfortunately the lanes didn’t have white lines separating them and so traffic had to decide where one lane ended and another began- fears of a TT sandwich quickly came to the forefront of my mind. There were large stretches of the road with only a single lane and because the road was very undulating, we often found ourselves stuck behind a huge truck, unable to overtake.

We beat our record yesterday of police stops and managed 8. Strangely, most of the police that stopped us knew we were traveling from Thailand to England. I can only assume they are somehow communicating and warning the next patrol unit to watch out for a strange pink vehicle. Only once were we asked for our documents. Ants and I have now had a bet as to how many times we think we will be stopped in Russia in total. I estimated under 30 and Ants over 30. At the rate we were going yesterday, Ants is likely to win the bet.

Yesterday was our longest day of driving in over a week and it seemed to go on and on. Eventually we arrived in Samara and attempted to find a hotel room. The first place was full, the second place didn’t accept foreigners and the third was thoroughly overpriced and we were told that all of the hot water in the city had stopped working i.e. they had problems with their plumbing. It was late and raining and we were left with no choice but to stay at the Hotel Ripoffski.

We were told last night that if we wanted a shower, we had to go and get a key from reception, because mysteriously one shower in the whole building was still working. I have just had to walk down to the shower on the floor below dressed in nothing more than a skimpy towel. I felt quite tempted to go down to reception and drop my towel, in protest at the fact that our bathroom is useless for washing and they are not offering any kind of discount for the inconvenience. Unfortunately for them I decided not to bless them with my naked flesh.

Last night we encountered a strange site. As we walked along the banks of the mighty Volga (Europe’s largest river) we both stopped in our tracks to stare at a large python wrapped around a young woman. She offered us ‘photo with the snake’, which we declined and instead opted to stroke the cold scaly skin of this impressive reptile. Thank God I wasn’t walking my ferrets at the time, although I am sure certain people might be thinking it would have been a good idea if I had been walking the furrballs- JM!!!???

Ants and I both feel a little strange at the moment. Personally, I feel pretty flat, uninspired and uninspiring. I am hoping it is just a phase and that I will come out the other side. Even though we are doing this amazing trip, it is not possible (I don’t think) to always feel happy and be having an amazing time. Emotions are something that wash over you continually, even though you may not want to feel a certain emotion at a certain time i.e. feeling below par even though there is nothing particular to cause the feeling. I have said it before, but I think the weather is having a huge effect on my mood. I hate the rain and when it is cold, grey and miserable in England I hibernate indoors. We cannot do that on this trip and have to carry on tukking regardless of the weather. I am not complaining, because I love this adventure. It’s just that sometimes my heart doesn’t love it as much as I want it to.


Blogger heid_honcho said...

cheer up & take extra care on the home leg.

2:08 AM  
Blogger tuktotheroad said...

Just palyed badminton in a russian field and the SUN came out today - YAY x

9:57 AM  

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