After landing in Khomutovo, my first order of business was to clear customs and transfer gas from my Turtlepac into the plane. My Russian agent Evgeny Kobanov had suggested, that I did not have any handler at this location as Airport staff is very friendly and helpful to the pilots. After taxiing to the ramp watching a contingent of, may be 10 people in big hats and uniform coming to your plane was kind of scary at first, but sure enough they were very friendly. Russia is a very documentation oriented country and there were at least five documents with three copies each needed filling and signing. Of the 10 people only one Sasha spoke English and helped with paperwork. With All the forms filled and signed Immigration and customs officers seemed pleased and left me for whatever I needed to do. For me to be able to transfer fuel from my Turtlepac to the plane I needed a car brought to be near the plane so, I can connect my 12 volt pump to its cigarette lighter outlet. With no car in site at the airport apron, I asked Sasha, if it was possible to have any of the service personnel to bring a car there. No problem, in two minutes an airport mechanic with car shows up and helps me with transferring the fuel. We were great at communicating in sign language!
So, with the fuel transferred, I am all set to fly to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskij tomorrow morning. I take my stuff from the plane, walk past the immigration/customs officers into the airport terminal to catch a taxi for the hotel. Unfortunately the taxi’s here do not accept dollars or credit cards, only rubles. Having none, I search for Currency exchange counter, not finding one I asked a gentlemen who I don’t know why I thought would speak English and may be able to help. He spoke very little English, just well enough for us to understand each other. We both looked for the exchange machine or a counter finding neither at this airport, he offered to exchange the money himself as help to me. He gave me 6000 rubles for a $100 bill, even slightly more than the official rate. I am now all set for stay here and take taxi to the hotel, seems like more than 15 miles drive, the taxi fare less than $10. Hotel is great and even though I can’t read what is written on the small Grey Goose bottle of vodka in my room minibar, must be my name I take it. So, here I am sitting in my room by the window, sipping on vodka, watching perfect blue skies with just as good weather forecast tomorrow for my flight to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskij
I love Russia and the Russians already!