Day 115 (2): Into the land of Borat
Almaty Travel Blog› entry 160 of 260 › view all entries
Thanks to the people I met here and/or travelled with: Tim & Wim (Belgium)
“Jagshemesh! My name Baret. I like-a you. I like-a sex. I like-a these country of Kazakhistan. Great success! High-five!”
Somehow the border guard was not impressed with my Borat impersonation...
Wim and I had to walk across the border, elbowing our way through the masses at immigration to get our passport stamped. Half an hour later we emerged at the other side of the border, in Kazakhstan.
Tim had to drive the car, as the car is in his passport, and he needed a bit more time. No less than seven stamps and forms had to be collected from as many counters, which took the best part of two hours. Kazakhstan might be the most modern and advanced of the Central Asian republics, it is also the one closest to Russia and thus the most bureaucratic.
The road to Almaty was terrific. After Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan this was a very welcome change. The scenery changed rapidly and soon the green pastures had made way for the classic scenery how we had envisaged Kazakhstan: golden, sloping steppe.
I had found a recommendation for a guest house outside the city, where we wanted to spend the night. There were two reasons for staying outside the city. Firstly, we would probably arrive in Almaty after dark, so driving into a busy city did not seem a good idea. Secondly, the car needed a mechanic for some much-needed maintenance work, and mechanics are usually easier to find in the suburbs than in the city centre. Oh, and thirdly, Almaty is a bloody expensive city and we had not been able to find anywhere cheap to stay, so the guest house seemed a good all-round option.
It took some effort to find the place, the road led us past a garbage dump and through areas where you don't want to walk outside alone at night. Eventually we found it though.
Hmm, guest house? It was an unmarked residential building. Basically it was a lady who lived alone in a large house and had decided to rent out some rooms. Our room wasn't even a room, it was three beds arranged in a nook in her office. And we had to pay 25 euros per person for this. 75 euros for a night... surely you can get better deals than this in Almaty?
There was no room for negotiation though, so we had little choice but to stay here. It would have to do for one night, but we would definitely try to find something cheaper (and more central) for tomorrow.
The good news was that we could use the kitchen and it was nice to be able to cook in a full-size kitchen again. I made some Russian ravioli with an improvised Italian sauce, which, as always with my creations, tasted a lot better than it looked!