This morning I took a three hour taxi ride from Kogalym to Surgut. It was around -20 degrees, pitch dark, and the view out of the front windscreen was not unlike that of the aforementioned channel 4 program. I have to say that it was possibly one of the most frightening things I’ve ever done. The roads in Western Siberia are thankfully pretty straight which is just as well because every time anything passes you going the other way, you’re instantly blinded for the next 100 yards or so. I’ve no doubt that the driver has done the journey a million times, but for a first time passenger, eager to get home, it was nothing short of terrifying. I kept trying to fall asleep but unfortunately the road was so uneven that every time I came close to nodding off I was rudely jolted awake. Opening my eyes I was often greeted with a view even more terrifying than when I’d closed them. I distinctly remember coming too on one occasion only to see an overturned lorry in the ditch by the side of the road. It took a while for me to pluck up the courage to shut them again after that I can tell you.
The trip was made even more surreal by the fact that one of our party managed to get himself nicely inebriated prior to leaving. While I sat cowering on the back seat, desperately trying to remember as many episodes of Ray Mears as I could, he happily sang and bobbed along for the entire journey, seemingly oblivious to the whole thing.
As I write this last little entry, I’m sitting in Domodedovo Airport where I started my Russian journey nearly two weeks ago. That first flight seems like an eternity ago I must say. I’m a little irritable as I had no sleep on the flight from Surgut. It was a rather old plane and, as the token tall guy, I was presented with a special none-reclining seat to enjoy. I’ve also landed far too early to check-in for the British Airways leg so I’m just sitting, killing time and debating whether I should hang around by the full body scanner this time to see who follows me in.
I’ve travelled a fair amount over the last six months and I I’m really looking forward to doing not very much for a few days when I finally get back to the UK. Of course I’ll have to think of something else to blog about. I’ve really enjoyed having you along for the journey and it’ll be a terrible shame to let it all end after we’ve just started getting to know each other. I must say that writing a few paragraphs every few days was extremely therapeutic while such a long way from home and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who’s thinking of travelling for an extended period. For now however I’ll leave you with this last little snippet. One tweeter recently asked me, “At -40, does it freeze before it hits the ground?” Well, after a thorough two week research trip to Western Siberia I can happily conclude that, “No it doesn’t.”