So after our early start we headed for Novosibirsk and the road was fine.

We made a wrong turning getting into Lenina, the place to hang about and ended up having to cross the river Ob (strangely the same name as "water" in Persian) again and I was furious. Traffic was pretty awful.

Anyway, after that navigation blunder (google maps routing does not work here) we did find parking and we nervously checked into Centralnaya Hotel. Centralnaya looked like a typical Soviet hotel and it is. However it's the best run hotel of its kind. Its a little dear, but those of us who have had nightmares staying in similar looking hotels should try this. Everything works. Including Internet. And it has a fantastic central location.

We then had a leisurely lunch at "Pechki Lavochki", an excellent Russian restaurant a few doors up. The food was great and it was just so awesome not to be in some shithole for lunch or eating Ramen (again) on the road.

In 2004 I took this photo of Novosibirsk's theatre


Again in 2011, the roads are better and the roof is looking good. Otherwise, nothing has changed drastically like Kazakhstan, which personally I find comforting.

Largest theatre in Russia

Later Kas, a friend of Ivan who hosted Antoine and I when we toured the region in 2004, met Jamie and I, team Geekout.

He asked us lots of questions about the Mongol Rally, and like my other journalist friend in Kazakhstan, seemed to have little idea that 300 or so teams are gallivanting across their backyard!

Later his colleague met with us from their Novosibirsk news site, asking us about our impressions of the town, since not many tourists come here. Tbh I think Novosibirsk has a lot going for it:

  • It's on the trans-siberian railroad
  • It's not an overbearing city like Moscow or St. Petersburg
  • Great Russian food can be found here
  • Best Jazz club in the world here, Tuba
  • Providing you have a host or contact, they treat you like gold
  • Lots of students and there is some nearby science town

After a lot of good conversation with Kas, his wife & colleague, Jamie and I wound up in the said Novosibirsk Jazz institution to see some remarkable impromptu performances by locals. Fantastic stuff.

The next morning we are taking it easy since from this point on, it's camping. I've now booked my flight out for the 12th to see my sister and girlfriend. Jamie is off on the 10th. So we have 9 days to reach Ulan Bator, else Jamie misses his flight back home to dreary London. Wish us luck!