Leaving Tagnarog, crossing Rostov at the river Don, the landscape changes right away again. I am entering the area of the Kalmyks. Originally thery are from Mongolia and therefor Buddhists. Across Kalmykia I had to ask the way constantly which got me in contact with many people. The Kalmyks seem to be very different and hosting, specially when you are from far away.
Too scared to leave the motorcycle outside on a unsecured parking in Elista, I choose the expensive hotel with a gate. Somewhat depressed from these procedures the next day I want to take pictures before leaving the city and meet by chance the german journalist Jessica, who rides as well, and the photographer Iugeni. They are on a report tour through Russia and have a wonderful blog: Risslandrussland.tumblr.com
Because they have an appointment with the local Lama we dont have time to chat too much, but Jessica is intersted in the project. She might write about it in the autumn.
O the way out of town I see the new temple, and Jessica and Iugeni, just recently build by the Lama, who grew up in the United States, where he crawled as a baby on the lap of the Dalai Lama. That was his fate.
All the time there I had the sensation to stay longer in Elista, but no way to spend more money there. Russia is costing me more then the few hundred kilomers justify I am riding there.
In between small salt lakes and the last big memorial of the war, I hope, because apparently this is the spot where the german army was pushed back. In the landscape, I think I can make out the rests of defense lines as well, the one or the other side dug in the steppe. Big birds which seem not to belong really there are right at the memorial. Trying to get closer to identify them they take off. Maybe they are on migration westwards, at least they flew that direction.
The dryness starts here, which is only interrupted by delta of the river Volga where I stay for two nights in Astrakhan to write and rest before it takes me to the next adventurous part: Kazakhstan!