02 June 2008

Our Dinner with Andrei

June 1—Down day in Ulan Ude, our first break since we started riding. The Tour Operator had arranged some tours, but I'm not really into that, and had to do stuff like find an atlas and some other errands.

In the afternoon I thought I would ride out to the east shore of Lake Baikal, wher I had never been. I didn't have a GPS waypoint or any other navigational aids other than a few town names. I didn't expect any real problem, but ended up wasting a couple of hours looking for the right road before coming back to hotel in frustration, without finding road to lake. Good maps are pretty key, and without them I was just spinning my wheels.

Went to dinner at Bochka, where we'd eaten the night before. Pretty good place, with good beer and an outdoor patio. Upscale local crowd. As soon as we sat down outside we were approached by Andrei, a large ex-spetnaz type who seemed to have some kind of security role at our hotel. Big guy. He was with Marina, a friend of his, who seemed utterly bored with us, and she soon left. Andrei propounded on his theories of international friendship and insisted that we proceed to the dance floor to dance with the few female patrons of the restaurant. Much beer was consumed, and we bought a birthday cake for Marina, a homicide detective in the local police force. Very nice, charming, lively woman, but probably not someone to cross!

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