Archive for the ‘Kazakhstan’ Category

Semey at last

29th July 2010 by Helen

Friday 23rd July

We saw a strange sight today – a bus shelter with two horses sheltering inside.  Bet their English counterparts would think they are mad with all that open space to run in.  Lots more scenery as we drove through the villages of north east Kazakhastan.

After deteriorating roads it was a relief to reach the outskirts of Semey.  We bought a few supplies right on the edge of town and headed back out to find a campsite.  It felt as if we were doomed as there was nowhere we could get off the road – despite being a capable vehicle there are limits to how far a fully laden Land Rover can drop off the edge of a road.  However we spotted a dirt track that led to a fantastic camping spot.  First we passed an old quarry and fly-tipping spot but as the track became less and less obvious so we found ourselves out in a vast open space with just a few tufts of grass and a strong smelling herb like plant.  Evidence of sheep having been through this way suggested we might be joined in the morning but otherwise there are just a few holes suggesting a burrowing animal a bit smaller than a rabbit, quite a few flies and other insects and that’s it.  We are only aware of the road in the distance when it’s dark and the headlights can be seen.

 Distance travelled – 343 km

Campsite – just outside Semey

Still Heading North

29th July 2010 by Helen

Thursday 22nd July

Still heading north – the roads are long and the country is huge.  And once again we are still on the road from Almaty to Semey.  The road conditions are once again getting worse, with ruts and potholes the norm.

After 10 days of flushing toilets in Almaty the sudden lurch back to the latrine has been a bit of a culture shock this time.  Peering into the abyss, the heaving mass of well camouflaged slugs, whilst there to do an important job, are not endearing.  The tickle of 2010 07 22 - field of sunflowers on road from Taldyqorghan to Semey (18)grass suddenly seems much more preferable.

One of the crops in Kazakhstan is sunflowers and to me it is strange but lovely to see fields of sunflowers as well as wild sunflowers growing by the roadside.2010 07 22 - cow eating on road to Semey (1)

Distance travelled – 377

Campsite – just past Ayakoz on the road from Almaty to Semey

Heading North

29th July 2010 by Helen

Wednesday 21st July

We certainly know we are heading north now.  It’s getting much cooler (more reasonable really) and we are beginning to see more2010 07 21 - village scenes on the way north from Almaty (2) - donkey & cart rain clouds (and even some rain).  Basically for the next couple of days we are just pushing on to get to Semey as soon as we can.  We want to take a break just outside Semey so Paul can download all our videos so far on to the new laptop, get them edited ready for uploading somewhere in Semey, and do some general camp and car maintenance, before we head into town and an Internet café.

We did manage to stop at a bazaar in a small town where I bought what we’ve dubbed an S&M dress – a hoodie dress that zips up right over the face!!  Still, makes a change from camping clothes.

2010 07 21 - roadside cafe on the road from Almaty to Taldyqorghan (2)Also paused from time to time to take photos of some of the scenes we have been passing – typical villages along the way, plants and insects, that sort of thing.

Health update – rather boringly for the doom-mongers we have not suffered much.  I’ve had a couple of very mild doses of food poisoning (dodgy egg served in the hotel restaurant in Stavrapol, Russia, and leftover meat eaten the next day after Aqtobe, Kazakhstan), Paul picked up a rather nasty bug just short of Shieli that left him feeling rather poorly for a couple of days.  Apart from that my histamine levels have shot up in response to the mozzies and I long ago gave up on short sleeve tops, skirts and shorts when there is any sign of them being around.  Unfortunately, unlike Paul, I don’t actually hear or feel them, I only know they’ve been attacking me several hours later when the bumps appear.  Fortunately, here in Kazakhstan, it has been so dry I’ve managed to continue relatively unscathed.  Not looking forward to what I know is likely to be mozzie land in the Russian Far East.  And for some reason we are both permanently on the Bristol Stool Scale number 6-7 whilst feeling quite well!!

2010 07 21 - flowers and insects beside the road from Almaty to Taldyqorghan (15)2010 07 21 - scenery on the road from Almaty to Taldyqorghan (29)Something short of a small health miracle has happened to Paul.  Continuous pain in his right hip and across his lower back, from which he has suffered for the last 6 or 7 years, has somehow miraculously disappeared.  Must be something to do with the hard bed, clean air, and the fact that he has lost a stone and a half in weight.  Actually, we’ve both lost weight as I’ve lost about a stone myself.  Paul says he feels fitter and more flexible, although I’ve only noticed that I need to buy a belt to hold my jeans up.  Must be the lack of sugar in the diet!!  Certainly not the lack of fat as much of Kazakhstan is barren which means meat and pasta form the staple diet, and cooking in butter or animal fat is universal.

Distance travelled 379 km

Overnight campsite – just past town of Sargan