So from Astana i rode toward Kostanay. Spent 2 nights there in the hot, but beuatiful city. Met some local people, got to practise russian, and met a crew doing a car rally from london to UB. On my way out of town i stopped briefly at the internet cafe to check email and ended up doing another interview for local TV and newspaper (i think). Anyways back on the road and towards the border. It took nearly 4 hours but much of this time was spent waiting in a que. I was encouraged, as a foriegner (which i never quite got considering i was at a border crossing) to jump the line which i did, and the border officials encouraged and helped! I did have big problems however with the officals not wanting to give me enough days on my temporary vehicle import document. Just another piece of paper in the overall scheme of things but really the most improtant one (it has 4 stamps on it) They only wanted to give me 30 days, which isnt enough time to get to murmansk i didnt think. Anyway it wasnt until i produced a photocopy of a previous document showing that another border had given me more than one month that things started to turn. I suggested to cousy that he just change the date to an officially unallowable 2.5 months, to the end of my visa, by scribbling it out re-writing it and whacking a stamp on it. 10 mins later no more prob! Hit the hwy back into russia and have been riding hard ever since.
The Hwy is now busy and i left the M5 onto the M7 at Ufa to try and get away from it. No suck luck, the cars here dont give a rats about a motorbike and have no hesitation about overtaking on my side of the road, straight at me and pushing me outta the way. I have been riding quite a bit, up to 500km a day now that im on my own. The eaisiest way to eat is at roadside cafe's which kinda sucks, like roadhouses in australia really, but better food. I have camped most nights but is kinda boring by myself. I am still getting lots of people amazed at the trip so far and they are very supportive and amazed. Really though, i wake up, eat, ride, eat, ride, sleep and so on.... :) I really cannot complain though. The coutryside is great, ridden through some great farmland, green and lush. Ridden next to oil pumps, nuclear power stations, weaved through massive traffic jams caused by roadworks and I have now crossed into Europe! The continental divide is in the Ural mountains which really are smallish hills. I am now in the city of Kazan and plan on being in Moscow in a coupla days. hopefully do some work on the bike there and see some of the sights!