|азиа is on the other side of the river|
|intercontinental travel was never so easy!|
That Borat was wrong
Turns out, Kazakhstan is actually quite an open and westernized country, especially as you compare it to the rest of Central Asia. My Atyrau host, Ash, happened to be both Jewish and openly gay, two things that movie did not lead me to expect in this part of the world.
He fed me like a Jewish mother. It was fantastic.
That Borat was wrong
|He fed me like a Jewish mother. It was fantastic.|
The Kazakh Steppe
|Uralsk? Who would want to go there?|
|Obviously this is what that yellow "highway" line on the Google maps should represent, right?|
Not just any pavement, but consistent pavement, is amazing. When you have old pavement that was laid down by the soviets and forgotten for decades, you get the worst roads I've ever seen in my life. The bits of pavement that do exist make the the potholes even huge, even to the point where they're big enough to drive a car entirely into and back out. For those of you who read my early post about the Mongolian bus ride, imagine the same thing, but with fewer people, slightly more legroom, even more bouncing, and the wonderful people known as...
Central Asian Truckers
|A friendly face|
Chevron and Big Oil
|A step up from streetside samsas. Courtesy of oil money.|
Russian Pop and Kazakh folk music (and American pop c. 1994)
Long periods for reflection
|This was taken about 2 1/2 hours and 5km from where the first video was taken... still no cars|
Central Asian HospitalityFor coming through when I need it. After being deposited for a second time at dusk in the middle of nowhere, I walked another 1hr+ to what looked like a town. I arrived after dark, it was already well below freezing, and I was pretty sure there was no hotel in town. I approached the nearest house with lights on and people nearby, scared the daylights out of a few Kazakh girls, who ran inside to grab the nearest man, Jaksibar, who ultimately let me sleep on his floor.
|Photo op with the new guy!|
That I'm not actually a spy
|The boy was more interested in satellite photos of his own house and Seattle. Who's the real spy, I ask?|
My immune system
|so, can I just have a kilo of face?|
|That's ice, not water|
|Surprisingly comfortable, too|
Trees and snow
|Aktobe. Could be MN, or NY... probably not Seattle, sorry.|
Friends and family
|The bottlecap that I found in the steppe. At first I thought it was an Outward Bound pin|
A sense of adventure