04 June from Slyudyanka – to Ulan-Ude 352 kms travelled = Total 5398 kms
Returning to Ulan-Ude I couldn’t bring myself to go back to the motorcycle club: no showers, no toilet, little water ….- I NEEDed a shower and a good bed, specially since I just had overnighted in such a club with no amenities, not even a toilet. A recurring need.
Indeed leaving S. I ultimately stopped in the forest and found a private spot to attend to my pressing physical needs.
I also needed a clear mind to solve the case of my forgotten Apple Powerbook powercord. Therefore I booked with bookings.com a hotel right in the centre of Ulan-Ude of which I had seen previously only a little.
Here is my hotel in which I immediately indulged in a long, hot shower:
It offered me a relatively safe parking in the courtyard and was indeed right in the mall, which I drove through unashamedly.
I realised the night before, that I had left my charger for the MacBook in the last place …. BUGGER. No way to go back! No way they send it to any address, too costly for their economy.
Fortunately I had sufficient battery power and an internet search revealed three Apple shops in Ulan-Ude. Luck was on my side! One shop, a seemingly a large one with its own website, was close to my accommodation. So off I walked feeling confident as I had sent an email, advising my need and arrival. Ensuring it was understood I translated the text into Russian as well.
This is what happened:
I found the mall and knew the shop was on the third level. Found it and a young men served me, or tried to. He didn’t know about my email, so I showed it to him (still 40% battery). “Niet” no have. You could hear my heart plummeting. What tF would I do without a charger? A second young man, who was fixing a phone, looked up and intervened. Turns out he is the owner, James. His girlfriend (not sure) Surena spoke a little English. So after a while of doing the Google Translate dance I learnt that there was a charger at another shop. Great! I buy it!! Well, the shop was right at the other end of town (imaging sound of plummeting heart). I already thought to change tomorrow’s plan and make it my first stop in the morning, when James and Surena gesticulated to come with them. They would drive me in their car to this shop!
… and that’s what they did! Indeed it was at the other end of town into another shopping centre (somewhat substantially smaller than the ones in Melbourne). It appeared as if James also owned this shop.
This shop did have an original Apple charger, even with a Russian plug which is super-fine as it will work in Europe as well! No need for an adaptor, which of course I had left behind together with the charger. We tested it and it worked! Hurray! Saved, again.
I happily paid the OEM-Apple (Over-)price and got even 1000 Rubels off, as I didn’t require the power cord. Too bulky and I had left mine at home right form the start.
James and Surena apologised for not having time for a celebratory drink – my shout of course. Neither did they eat chocolate. So with many thanks and smiles I expressed my appreciation to both for going – literally – out of their way to help me, a stranger who just walked into their shop.
I am most grateful to both!
The Apple cost for the charger I shall ‘mind-book’ as ‘Lehrgeld’, meaning the cost of making (and hopefully learning) from an experience.
Deep inside I wondered what else I will leave behind …. That I haven’t lost my keys for the bike is sheer preparation! I had ensured to affix a small carabiner hook on all my trousers, permanently. So all I need to do is to hook-in my bike keys whenever I pull’em out of the ignition. I have stuck to this process religiously, hence the good outcome.
Later on I meander down the mall, or better the Fussgaengerzone, and pass a woman which does not look local, rather European. we pass, but a few moments later Carol approaches me wondering if I am American. I have been taken as an American already on several occasions since here in Russia – so no surprise. We chat and find commonalities, so decide to share a small meal and tea together in a side-street. Carol, originating from the US has been living in Ulan-Ude for the second time. She teaches at one of the four universities here. Her ‘posting’ finishes soon, and she plans an interesting trip involving the high-speed train from Peking to Lhasa, the Himalaya, the Base-camp and riding a horse in the Mongolian Steppe. We both agree on how lucky we are, being born on ‘that’ side of the road, hence being able to fulfil our travel-wishes, representing a minute fraction of the world’s population.
Carol assures me that she usually does not accost strangers, rather my ‘good karma’ made her approach me.
So all in all, I had a great day! Hope you can find some good vibes in reading about it.
Here are some more pix from Ulan-Ude – their ‘Paris Place’
Last news arrived from Dimon, our host in Blagoveshchensk: the article had been published in the regional newspaper: Armur Pravda – see it here and try Google translate.