This is our last big town before crossing the infamous Zilov Gap – the bit of the trans-siberian highway that didn’t exist until just a couple of years ago. We could hardly find any information on whether the new road had actually been completed or whether bad sections remained. On our atlas the road was marked with dotted lines (“to be completed in…”) – the latest guide books said there was no road at all and anyone we asked said something different. We felt pretty apprehensive – this was the very centre of the Russian outback ahead of us.

We were saying our farewells on the internet and making our wills and such, when a massive storm broke out, sending everyone running. The roads were quickly inundated with ankle-deep water and their pot holes became pools of unknown depth. Just the kind of weather to make a Russian road pure mud and unpassable. What a wonderful omen.

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