Posts Tagged ‘health’

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

Wherewith the tar baby?

19th May 2010 by Helen

I have always had a vision of Canada as comprising vast areas of land, beautiful scenery, largely unspoilt by the ravages of industrialisation.  An idyllic holiday destination.

But it seems I was wrong.  Or maybe I just believed the advertising.

Canada is developing an image problem.  Canada has tar sands, lots of it.  Of course Canada is not the only country with tar sands, but it does seem to have one of the largest deposits of it.

Tar sands is largely bitumen, on land, at or near the earth’s surface, that large oil companies are harvesting for use, and have been doing for some time.  In Canada this is since the 1960’s.  The problem is that the harvesting of this bitumen is energy intensive and causes significant pollution, requires the destruction of forests, and uses large quantities of water in the extraction process (not a problem in Canada but likely to be a problem in other countries where tar sands have yet to be exploited).  In pure energy terms it is one of the least economic energy products to obtain.

Shell, although not alone, is a key developer in the tar sands extraction, seeing this as having an important role in providing future energy resources.

Not everyone agrees with them.  Growing international awareness of the health impact of pollution, destruction of forests, and the need to be good stewards of the earth’s resources, have led to environmentalists and others campaigning against the harvesting of the tar sands.

As our journey takes us close to some of the many areas in the world identified as having, or potential having, exploitable tar sands, this is something we will have to look out for.