Day 42 turned into a huge day. From the nuclear test site to Kurchatov where the scientists were based, is about 70 km (45 miles).
Rod scored another flat:
Kurchatov is not the town it once was. Its pretty sleepy and dusty now. We just fueled up on the edge of town, grabbed some lunch and headed on the asphalt to the capital of the region Semipalatinsk (Semey) a further 130 km (80 miles away).
It was baking hot and sunny in the afternoon when we left Semipalatinsk, but as we headed towards the Russian border, a cold front swept in and we were all zipping up the jackets. The terrain had changed too ... it was green now.
The gang was hungry and we pulled into the border town of Shemonaikha for some food and to get rid of our Kazakh cash. The Russian border was just 17 km (11 miles) away. We could have gone there first, but border crossings always take a few hours and with everyone hungry we were either going to stop for the day in Shemonaikha or at least get something to eat. In the end we found no hotel, so we cleaned out a cafe of everything they had, then headed for the border, now in the dark.
There was a border queue and we got chatting with locals crossing:
We crossed and made out way to the nearest Russian town, Zmeinogorsk, where I knew there would be hotels. Unfortunately when we got there, both hotels were full. It was raining now. Almost midnight. We rode into some woods on the edge of town and pitched our tents in the rain and in the dark. It was the end of a very long day.