So we have travelled from China to Kazakhstan in the past couple of weeks. Four countries our Blue Beast has concurred… four countries with all some very particular characteristics and different people with different habits.

The particularities from each country so far:

We never knew that every ‘service area’ (the areas along the highway (every app. 50 km) with a gas station, toilet, restaurants, shop, etc) has an auto garage. We used several during our drive to the border with Mongolia. Also we received numerous remarks from all the car mechanics in China that our car is old (one even called it ‘an elderly’ which he didn’t dare operate) and that it is highly unusual to have a car like that driving on Diesel….. While a couple of weeks after we bought the car in Holland, mechanics there told us the car is way too new to make this road trip. It is true, however, the only vehicles we saw filling up with Diesel in China were trucks.

Mongolians absolutely LOVE basketball. At every ger, even in the middle of nowhere, you will find a small basketball field (with one basket, that is). Mongolian men drink a lot – I think literally every Mongolian on a horse we met during the late afternoon or evening smelled like alcohol and was tipsy or (in most cases) drunk. What we also found is that in restaurants, although they have 10 or 20 dishes on the menu, the actual choice (daily) consisted of one or two dishes.
Prices of Diesel vary a lot in Mongolia (compared to other countries where prices are quite similar at different gas stations). All car washes in Mongolia are ‘manually’ – which is the best way to have your car washed!!

Very good roads! And (especially at the border posts) extremely friendly soldiers. What amazed us was how aggressive the Russians drive and overtake. Speeding in general is a Russian thing we decided as in Novosibirsk the main boulevard (straight through the heart of the city) – The Red Prospect – after 9 pm changes into a F1-circuit where young guys show off their cars (often without either a front or back bumper). They blast with at least 100 km an hour through the centre and then turn around to drive back again. The ones that are not racing or showing off are all parked together battling each other with their sound systems. Really funny hearing all these US rap songs in Siberia.

In Kazakhstan, like in Russia, they have this inefficient thing at gas stations – you first need to indicate how many liters of Diesel you need, pay and then you can fill up. As it seems to us, it is better (especially when you want to fill up) to first get your Diesel and then pay. Meaning for the last couple of times we were not able to fill up completely (as, as a real Dutch person, you don’t want to pay for Diesel that eventually doesn’t fit into your tank anymore).
A very annoying thing in Kazakhstan are the ridiculous speed restrictions. Approaching a curve you may drive 90 km/h while on a great piece of tarmac they have signs with 50 km/h. Extremely frustrating and we decided not to take these ridiculous limits into account anymore!

Just making sure that we remember these particularities. Hope you enjoy them with us!

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