Better roads

Trip Start Mar 12, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Where I stayed
Chayka Hotel

Flag of Kazakhstan  ,
Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Getting the car ready this morning, with the usual crowd of people who dont speak any understandable language, trying to see what we are doing, getting in the way. Try and stay polite ...
Turns out one of them was the owner of the hotel, who was so impressed with all our efforts that he pressed 7000 Tenge (about half of the overnight costs) into my hand. Of course, haging had people try and buy the car from us all along, I thought he was joking, but no, it was a gift! Of course we showed the appropriate gratitude. fter his staff charged us for every little extra last night!

Set off, and the road today was good virtually all the way. Passed a MIG fighter just on the outskirts of Balkash.

Lots of open road, and various villages along the way, in states of disrepair. Stopped off for a late lunch, sort of meat pie, Fanta and tea, came to about 2. What value you can get here.

eventually came into Karaganda, where we got stopped by the police. Not sure if it was for turning left where we shouldnt, or for creeping into an intersection against a red light to avoid the traffic, but he was annoyed with us. However, when he saw the route and all, he softened up and let us go. Not soft enough to get his photo though.
Got to our chosen hoteel, the Cosmonaut, but they were full. Just as well as their rack rate is $150 a night. Enquired about registration, and the mamager got involved. Phoned a friend (no dont go down that road) and found that we do need to register, told us where to go, and even gave us a letter stating that we were booked into his hotel, altho we werent, to ease the process. All the time we were drinking coffee in the bar, the bill for which came to about 5, twice as much as the lunch did! The maanger was such a contrast to the idiots on immigration, and the manager stated the opinion that they would never become a seerious economy with such people in positions of influence and corruption.

They also directed us to this hotel, which is the one where the Russian  cosmonauts stayed after their flights. Really grand hotel, but a bit running down. Had dinner  in the dining room, we were the only ones there. If they had a few more tourists, this place would thrive. Lovely curtains reaching down 2 floors to a circular room, with padded shairs all around, and 2 lovely ppadded setees. Amazing. but as theres no one else (almost) staying here, all the lights are out!

Did some washing, which is way overdue! Hope it dries by morning

Martin's masonry  moment:
This is quite the best piece of architecture during the whole trip.Sweeping staircases,huge reception areas and the 70s style that looks so much better in black and white.
So yes we did a few more Kms today - near enough the required 400 per day and all seems well.Car very low down at back which is fine when roads as smooth as today's but of course that will change again.Our detour to avoid going through Kyrgystan has cost us probably an extra day's driving as we  have not found a direct west-east route to get us back on track for our journey  north to Russia.We have to do a fairly extensive dog-leg but hope to get there (R) on Saturday.
One complication is that we need to register as our stay in Kazakhstabn is 5 days or more and we will visit the appropriate office tomorrow morning.Goodness knows how long that will take
Sara asked about daniel's bicycle exploits.My recollection is that he learned to ride while quite young - I have got 3 and a quarter in mind.Was it the bumble-bee bike Daniel or the Schwinn type? I'm sure the Redmond archives will throw up a suitable picture.What did Isaac cycle in to town?
Was befriended by statuesque Olga who offered to undertake registration process for us,but we would only be waiting around not knowing what was going on and at what cost?
Karaganda is a difficult town to like and has a fearsome past-convicts used for horrendous mining exploits etc.
Have just skyped Alison,Daniel,Sara and the scamps.Wonderful to stay in touch.The little people would climb through the screen if they could.I remember wanting to do that as a child.
More again tomorrow.Sweet dreams 
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Sara on

your skype call was fairly wonderful. cheered an otherwise grim evening of double tutorials up massively. Think we may become a skype family as isaac and bethan really love seeing who they're speaking to- we called nanna earlier too.
hope you get to have a non driving "rest" day soon and your bottoms's aren't acquiring the contours of the seats!!!
love to you both xx

Barbara Goss on

"Passed a MIG fighter ..." - my goodness you are doing well!!! Keep it up.

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