Getting my passport at last - well a temporary one at least!
Almaty Travel Blog› entry 343 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here who contributed to and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)
We said goodbye to Valentina at the station and accompanied a little old lady to her apartment. She had agreed to rent us a room for 2500 Tenge ($21), which was as cheap as we had found in the city. I felt a little bit guilty, as she actually rented us her living room, which doubled as her bedroom, whilst she slept in the kitchen. She told Julia that her nurses wages weren't enough to make ends meet, so she had resorted to this.
After taking a shower, we went and ate at an eatery by the train station and surprise surprise, they not only added their 10% service charge, but then tried to add a further 10% on the bill. It gets really tiring having to contest every single bill and the worst thing is that they make you feel guilty for doing it, even though they are the ones in the wrong! Julia says that in Russia, most people just accept it and pay as they feel too embarrassed to say anything. Personally i think its a joke that they are trying to take 20% off you for what is essentially moody, poor service!
Back at the flat, we had a relaxing evening and i watched Croatia beat Germany 2-1 in the football and then Poland and Austria draw 1-1. The only problem with the apartment was that the lady just kept bursting into the room without knocking, and had even done this just after we had showered. To round the night off, she walked in whilst i was still watching the football and just turned light off!
The following morning we planned on getting up around 08.30, but Valentina showed up at 06.00 with some friends of hers that wanted to stay in the apartment for the night. She had said this may be the case, but had never said anything about it been so early. Rather than respect the fact that we were sleeping, she instead chose to keep shouting for us to wake up and have a cup of tea with her. I wasn't best pleased, but there wasn't really much to do - i made a mental note to try and avoid Babushkas for the next few days!
We grabbed some dumplings for breakfast and headed down to the British Embassy, where my temporary passport was thankfully waiting for me. On the down side, it was only 8 pages and looked forged, as the print had smeared when they had made it! Useless. From here we went to FedEx to collect a parcel that my Dad had sent and then headed to Sayran bus station, to catch a minivan to Bishkek. It was the clearest sky that i had seen in Almaty and the mountains looked really spectacular. It was a fitting end to a fantastic month in Kazakhstan, although i was slightly disappointed to have not tracked Borat down, maybe next time!