Test drive of the Russian health system

The great thing about motorbike trips are the cultural exchanges. I wanted to have a check-up of a suspected stomach ulcer so the hotel called the medics who were in attendance in 20min did bloods and an ECG and took me to the local Gospital clutching a towel as instructed. Within half an hour I was on a gurney having a gastroscope put down my throat and having had bloods taken and various other procedures including signing papers I have no idea about. Amazing efficiency but with few frills. I’m to lie down eat and drink nothing for two days. By 10am today 4 more blood tests, yes my finger is sore. I now realise knowing words like tyre change and being able to read the menu is not enough Russian.
We couldn’t have chosen a nicer town (nearly a million folk), Ulyanovsk, where Lenin was born and way up towards the Arctic circle. Leafy green and very warm, I’ve left the boys, Gareth and Dave, in a hotel overlooking the Volga River and the local children frolicking in the fountains. It’s hard to imagine that this river is frozen half the year.

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