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The Breakup of Taxistan

August 18th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Our last precious minutes in Taxistan were spent getting the much coveted Mankini shots for our sponsors, with great success. Reluctantly we struck camp and took down the stars and stripes and the union jack from the flagpole and joined the queue. The guard who had initially refused our requests for a doctor on the second day was on duty at the first gate. As we got to the front after an hour in line, he inspected our passports and told us flatly we still had two hours until midnight and had to go back, just at the moment of despair and disbelief, a wicked grin spread across his face and he opened the barrier. After several hours of form filling and ferrying floppy disks with our car details between offices we finally broke out of no man’s land and into Russia at 0130.

Our trip to Jimmy in Barnaul was slightly more eventful than anticipated – no surprise there – we had decided to stop for a coffee at what looked like an all night cafe 5 km into Russia. We went inside to discover flashing lights loud music and underdressed waitresses who laughed at the idea of us wanting coffee and turned down our dollars. We ventured next door to what looked like a hotel to try and change some dollars. All we found were rows of numbered bedrooms and a Madame grumpily examining our quite filthy forms. The first building we entered in Russia, was in fact a brothel. We speedily made a retreat to the taxi only to be swamped by the clients who were fascinated to find two Englishmen so hopelessly lost. They insisted that we gave them our autograph’s on 10 rouble notes. The requests turned to demands when vodka was produced. Half a pint was poured and thrust through the driver’s window to Ed for the road. Ed’s protestations were ignored but he managed to transfer the obligation to Max who promptly fell asleep. Ed drove into Rubsovsk and quickly found himself half a mile down a one way street. A bewildered military police Lada gave chase and pulled us over, after initially pushing his AK-47 at the driver’s window he soon assessed the situation (sossled as he was) and asked for a photograph with us before sending us on our way. 250 km from Barnaul Max had sobered up and took the wheel. Two hours later we were low on fuel and had to fill up. Unfortunately, having no local currency and Ed (the resident linguist) asleep, Max had to use his best charades to convince the locals to exchange dollars for rubles. Fortunately a Russian drunk enough to accept "americanski dollar" was not hard to find and TDT were soon on there way again. We eventually arrived in Barnaul 5 hours late where we met up with a much improved Jimmy.

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→ 1 CommentTags: Field Post · General News · Taxi

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Marina // Aug 18, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Hahaha I adore reading your blog – makes me want to travel the world and seven seas…! )))

    So, the Russians were not that bad to you after all!!!! We are lovely people in fact! ))))

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