What a surprise, it’s raining hard again. Very hard. Looking out of the hotel room window I can see dark clouds, lightning, and rivers of rain water flowing down the streets. Standard for Siberia! It is wet season, but I didn’t think it would be so heavy or so persistent. I try to get clean in the wierd little Japanese style capsule bathroom, but as usual after a few days in the wild, despite best efforts to wash clean, the fresh white towel is quickly black. I don’t understand why a towel can remove dirt more effectively than soap and water? Perhaps it only works if the towel is a pristine white one! It’s amazing to think I’m so close to Japan. All the stuff in the minibar is Japanese, the breakfast menu is in Russian, English, and Japanese. The hotel is even called Sapporo. Actually I’m even closer to China, it’s only 30km west of here.
The hotel is wierd. Breakfast is fried eggs and hotdog sausages with sliced tomatoes, peas and sweetcorn. Odd. The hotel staff also seem to be having a problem registering my visa with the authorities because they can’t understand that I have been camping. I really hope they don’t cause problems for me by misunderstanding something. I don’t really know where I am in the city, I couldn’t see any of it when I arrived. I need to figure things out today, but before sightseeing I need to see if I can get the bike sorted.
I try the reception desk. Unfortunately Maria from the Baikal Plaza isn’t here. They try their best, make several phone calls, but no joy. They have sorted out my registration though. No response from the Vlad community on the HUBB, either. I’m starting to think I might just have to go to Vlad. The hotels here are expensive. I wander around and ask a few, check online too. It’s cheaper in Vlad. The weather forecast is better there, too. Can’t really ride around in this downpour, and there are no other bikers out that I might be able to ask for help. The only thing I manage to achieve is to buy a phone charger which I’ve been without since day one. Didn’t think I’d need one as I can charge from the bike, but when you’re in a hotel for days it’s awkward.
I ride around in the rain for a while, looking for likely workshops, trying to ask people, looking out for other bikes, all to no avail. I don’t know where anything is, and the only car places I see are for tyres and not much else. And it’s really tricky in the rain, I can’t see very well, it’s slippery and the traffic moves very fast here. I quickly decide it’s safer to return to the hotel.
I have a quick wander around to take a few photos, but the weather’s so bad it’s pretty pointless. I give up, retreat to the familiar surroundings of a German-themed pub/restaurant, and consider my options. Stick or twist? A dilemma I’ve had in various forms so many times on this trip. Going to Vlad is risking catastrophic collapse, but staying here will be expensive and with the weather forecast it’s not going to be easy finding help. Twist. I think I have to go to Vlad. I’ll lash the bike together again, and hope that by the time I get there someone on the HUBB will have a contact for me. At least then I’ll be at the target destination, not just some small town en route. But will I get there?
I return to the hotel. The bike sits forlornly outside, very soggy, and clearly sagging badly at the back. Maybe the HUBB will come through with some info, maybe the weather will improve and I can try another ride around tomorrow, but I think I’ve decided I may as well go to Vlad and take it from there.