Day 118: Sunday picnic with the locals
Esik Travel Blog› entry 163 of 260 › view all entries
Thanks to the people I met here and/or travelled with: Tim & Wim (Belgium), Aselya, Daniyar, Bek (Kazakhstan), Nicholas (France)
Three hours later the alarm went off. Why oh why did we agree to go on a picnic trip with Aselya and her friends today? I staggered into the living room and found Tim on the couch, in pretty much the same position as where I had left him last night: beer in one hand, bag of potato chips in the other. Only he had his eyes closed now and was making a snoring sound.
We got dressed and staggered to the building of the Kazakh-British Technical University (formerly the Soviet parliament) where we would meet up the others.
We needn't have worried about hurrying. Daniyar was the only one there and it wasn't until 15 minutes later that the others showed up: Aselya, Bek and Bek's French flatmate Nicholas.
With two cars we drove to the town of Esik, about 80 kilometres from Almaty. And with us, so did the rest of Almaty, it seemed. Esik lake is a popular weekend destination for Almatians, who come here en masse for a swim, a hike or a picnic. I can't blame them, really, as the area is beautiful.
We spent most of the day relaxing near the lake. Sorry, let me rephrase that, *I* spent most of the day relaxing near the lake. Some of the others went on a hike up one of the mountains, while others kicked a rugby ball around for a few hours. I was too hung over to do anything remotely active, so I spent most of the day just lying under a tree in the shade, chatting with Bek (who had a similarly lazy day) and watching the world go by.
Bek is quite an interesting character. Openly gay (which I had not expected in a country where homosexuality was decriminalised less than a decade ago) and full of funny stories.
We ended the day with a nice shashlyk dinner on the outskirts of Almaty, before Tim, Wim and I headed home again for some much-needed sleep.
It had been an interesting day. This had been a genuine day out with the locals :-)