After dinner I went to take a look at the casino that was next door. It was a small place and I just looked around and watched tv. Then I went to the bar in the hotel, got a beer and listened to the music. This one girl was sitting by herself so I went to talk to her. We talked a long time, I got her a beer. I asked where she was from, she said Brest. So I thought why would she go out in a hotel bar? But then figured it was a small city, not too many places to choose from. She was cute and we had fun. Asked what she did she told me what her job was and said that making a living in Belarus was very difficult, especially since she had a kid. So she had a second job. So I asked her what that one was and she told me she worked for the hotel. Only then did it hit me that I was talking to a prostitute. I'm a dimwit. She asked me if I wanted to have a good time and told her no. I'm not going to sleep with a prostitute. Surprised I talked to her for a little bit longer and went to my room, I called it a night. It had been a good day and I couldn't wait to see what was ahead.
The next morning I got up with the plan to first get money from a bank and then ride on and try and cross the Russian border. I could be in Moscow the next day. I got some breakfast, Russian food is real good by the way, more on that later. After that I went to the parking lot, my baby was still there, that was good, I took it back to the front entrance where I would pack it. But while putting my bags on it I noticed a pool of liquid under the bike that was dripping. What is this? I looked closely to find my bike was leaking coolant. So I had to take parts of the bike off and work on it for over an hour. A hose hadn't been connected hard enough, probably from the service in Holland. These things happen. So I fixed the problem and put the bike back together.
I then went into town looking for a bank. I had been told where two banks were and figured I could spot them by looking, but I couldn't. I went back and forth down the road and couldn't find one. So I went into a store and asked people. But since I didn't speak the language it wasn't easy to get them to understand what I meant. First I said bank, that didn't work, I did gestures with my fingers that represented money and even tried to create a bank machine with my hands and then imitating using my card, dialing a code to get my money. I'm not real sure if they ever understood. The store did give me some directions to what sounded like a bank. I drove out of their driveway slowly and stopped at the stoplight that was just ahead. Then my motorcycle just stopped. So I pressed the starter, but nothing happened. I tried again, still nothing. This wasn't good! I kept on trying. My stomach just went down the tube, this is all I needed, to get stuck with a problem in Belarus. I start swearing and wondering what was happening, and pulled the bike back towards the driveway. I kept trying, but nothing. So I figured I must have done something wrong when I worked on it earlier. Now remember I said that tank bag I had was big, and I couldn't see any of my gauges, so I pushed the bag to one side and found that the bag had hit the kill switch. I'm an idiot. But I was a happy idiot now. Oufff. So I headed back to the hotel for help. While heading back on the road this guy in this car starts yelling to me in Russian?? So I avoid him and keep going but he follows me all the way to the hotel and when I stopped he came out of the car towards me. Thinking what this one was about he started to speak Russian. I told him no Rusky, but he spoke English. He asked where I was going, I lied and told him Minsk I think, which was along the way, he then said he had a bike and was going the same way that day, he invited me to ride along with him. But I just said no, no way. He even showed me his shirt showing a Russian moto club or something. I have to be careful with this bike in a country like this. I wished him a good trip and he took off. But funny enough I would see him again. So back at the hotel now I told them I needed to find a bank that had a bank machine so I could get money out. They asked me what a bank machine was? Oh shit! That lonely planet travel guide, I thought it said there were ATMs in Belarus, but in one of the biggest cities in the country they didn't even know what it was. Not good. I didn't have a lot of money and probably not enough to reach Minsk, where they told me there should be one. My credit card had been cancelled months ago in England so that wasn't an option. With the chance of running out of gas money I decided to try and reach Minsk.
In aviation we have a term called flight for best range, which means you use certain power settings and the optimum altitude to achieve the longest range possible. And that's what I needed to do with my bike now to reach Minsk. If I could have gone up to 30,000 feet and catch the jet stream it would have been easy. But unfortunately it doesn't go fast enough to fly, so I had to be careful with the fuel. The reason why I thought I didn't have enough money was that I had all these different bills in my wallet. I had a stack of cash, but a few said 500,000 and 100,000, I knew what these were forth. Both most of my stack included 5,000 and 1,000 bills, and smaller. This I thought was small change. If I calculated the total amount with what I knew chances were I didn't have enough gas money to reach Minsk. But it hit me along the way that maybe this wide difference in bills was due to old bills and new ones. And it was. The 500,000's and 100,000's were older bills with the same value as the newer 5,000's and 1,000's. That was a huge load off and now knew I had enough money to reach Minsk. The ride to Minsk was stressful at first but then it became a lot more fun when I knew I had the money.
The scenery was pretty and it involved plains, forests, lakes, and small villages. It was similar to parts of Canada with large non populated areas and wilderness. I liked the forests there a lot. Along with parts of Germany this was the nicest scenery so far, but both were different. While riding along the plains and farmland it was one of the first occasions that I would see some of the hardships in this country. Every now and then you would have people with bags of fruits and or vegetables and they just sit next to the road, waiting for a client. But these are plains, with cars now and then. I was surprised to see this. Also to see what looked like prostitutes just waiting on the side of a road, in the middle of nowhere. It's a sad thing to see. At one point I stopped to get some lunch at this small place. As usual everyone there was curious and came looking. It was funny in the restaurant while ordering because we couldn't understand each other. I couldn't get one meaning across, they even brought me in the kitchen for me to show them what I wanted. I think it was deer that they gave me, again it was good. It was cheap too. Back on the road I kept heading for Minsk. Next