We decided to make an attempt to be in Mongolia around 11 July for the Nadaam festival. This means long drives (2500 km in 6 days). Still in Novokuznetsk we took a break to visit the remains of a local fortress as well as the cathedral. At the Cathedral we could only see the lower crypt style church. It looks like the upper part is not open for (public) service. The fort was closed till 13:00 hrs. However after our lunch break we sneaked around the back and had a peek. This town is one of the most polluted in Russia due to the local steel industry. This can clearly be seen overlooking the smoked filled valley from the opposite hill top which is covered by a large cemetery.
From Novokuznetsk a 4 lane-motor way leads to the North. The first stretch was still bumpy limiting the speed to 80 km/hr. The second stretch was much better and we managed 95 km/hr. Despite the delays driving though the cities we managed to hit the M53 (main West to East road) around 16:00 hrs. The M53 is only 2 lanes. It is well maintained. This means we passed several road repair crews which slows you down. Overtaking the large amounts of trucks on this hilly road is also difficult for Passepartout. Around 17:30 we hit a small river. At the first road we turned off and winded our way through a small village to the water stream. A chalet camp was under construction there. After some negotiations (English/Russian) with the manager he allowed us to camp at the water front. Maybe he just did not know how to explain to me that we could not stay on a building site. Still he brought us a trash can and offered drinking water. I think the concept of a self contained camper was new to him. We both had a lovely swim/wash in the river and were treated to some beautiful rainbows as well. But no rains.