No Mud, No Rain, No Bikes, No washers and No Gareth.
Jo and Dave meet a traditional Yakutsan Queen and check out a fantastic Cryogenic Museum. Would you like ice with your Mammoth Sir?
Rest day in Yakutsk. Me to do email catchups and photo processing, the others to do a little sightseeing – courtesy of new friend Olga, an English language teacher who’s keen to show Dave & Jo her town. They visit the Traditional Yakutsan Village and a Yakutan Queen (bit like the Maori Kuia), who blessed them both and wished them safe travels. The other mission is to find some washers to stack out a bolt that attaches Jo’s pannier frame to the bike. You’d think it was some Lord of the Rings prop the way people examine it with intense interest before declaring they don’t know where we can find one. Clearly washers are not part of the everyday Yakutan spare parts.
Eventually we get a cab driver – who we’ve hired to take us to the Cryogenic Museum – to firstly locate a suitable hardware of building merchant where we can buy a stack of washers to do the job. He then delivers us to the XX and rather than let him go and dial up another cab when we’re finished, Jo pays his entry fee and invites him along. Typical of some many of us, he’s never visited the star attraction in his own town and is joyful though to be included. He and Dave are suitable clowns for all the photo poses and our cab driver brings an strong element of comedy to our tour of the exhibits – the star one for me not being an ice carving but rather a restored mammoth that has been excavated from the permafrost.
That night dinner is at a Japanese sushi restaurant that does a lot more than sushi and proves to be a fantastic venue to wind up our stay in Yakutsk. It’s amazing really, this city the capital of Yakutia the largest of the Russian republics and as big as 10 Frances and just a little smaller than India. Yet with 65% of the Russian territory it houses only 28% of the population. Maybe it has something to do with the minus 51 degrees winter temperatures here. We might bemoan the resistance of the locals to cutting the grass but when most of the year has the grass under ice it’s little wonder that for their short summer they celebrate the growth of plants to the max.