Today we had a free day in Manzhouli to ensure our customs papework is all in order before we cross back into Russia tomorrow. So far, everything looks like it is going well, but we’ve learned not to make any assumptions, especially when dealing with customs in any country on Fridays!
We started this morning with a trip to the Zhalainuoer Museum, which opened in 2012 and depicts the natural and cultural history of the Zhalainuoer region, including a simulated mine. In addition to displays of mammoth skeletons, arrow heads, pots, and other cultural artifacts, the museum had many life-like dioramas such as the one below.
Here’s a picture of Sim explaining the display on the Trans-Siberian Railway that the original racers followed through Manzhouli.
In the exhibit hall on coal mining, we found a gas can from the 1940s that looks a lot like the extra cans John carries on the 1928 Roadster:
The simulated coal mine is huge — it took us about ten minutes to walk through the entire display. The realism extended to the darkness, so I didn’t get many good pictures, but here’s one of a conveyor belt:
After the museum, we drove a short distance to a Mammoth Park. Even though it’s still under construction, they were letting people in, so we strolled among the dozens of life-like mammoth statues that gave us a feel for what a whole herd must have looked like on the steppe. I’m pretty sure the original 1908 racers didn’t see any of these!
After we returned from our tour, Leo’s car got a bath at a local car wash, and then we all had noodle soup for lunch.
During lunch, one of the restaurant owners where we dined was making Jhint, a kind of rice dumpling. The process involves a bamboo leaf, a special type of rice that has been soaking for a long time, and a date, as shown in the first photo below. The other photos show her filling a folded leaf with rice, which she then ties with a string from those draped over the chair in front of her. The result is shown in the last photo. The pouches are then steamed for several hours and cooled for a day before they are ready to eat.
After lunch, we went in search of fresh fruit for Luke,
a bicycle pump for John so he could pump up the struts on the Roadster,
and fuses for the brake lights. We figure if we blow a fuse every ten days, the current cache should get us to Paris. If it doesn’t, we’re going to replace Luke as our mechanic — any volunteers?
After we returned to the hotel, Sim signed the Roadster,
while Luke pumped up the struts. The bicycle pump worked great — the struts are now at 80 psi; I hope I don’t see the Roadster bouncing three feet in the air tomorrow as we head across the border!
Sim’s signature now joins the signatures of Hiro, our Japanese guide; Svetlana, our first Russian guide; and Igor, the Russian truck driver for the Roadster. Sim’s signature in the picture below says we started in Sifuenhe, came to Manzhouli, and are departing on May 30 (tomorrow).
Tomorrow we cross the border into Russia and will be staying in Zabaikalsk tomorrow evening. I’m not sure of our connectivity for tomorrow; it may be Saturday evening in Chita before we have Wifi again.