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Update: Wed 21:10

Currently at lat/long: n43 15.891 e76 57.250

Hotel Turkistan, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Well, it's been all go! A bit.

Kazakhstan was endless rolling hills with browned grass. It wasn't especially hot (mid-twenties) but was near unremittingly dull. This doesn't bode well for the interest factor in a few weeks time.

Almaty, on the other hand, is really very nice indeed. It seems totally out of contrast with what you might expect with wide leafy boulevards brimful with expensive European and local brands. Streets and streets and streets of them. Then you'll be going through the 'burbs and there'll be a couple of designer furniture shops out of the blue.

It's not quite as warm as Bishkek, maybe five degrees cooler.


I went to the DHL office I'd asked the parts to go to and, like sending the chain & sprockets to Trivandrum in South India DHL, had actually sent them to a different office the other side of town. Luckily the guy was able to figure out the map on the GPS and I could get there quite quickly. The GPS map of Almaty (and Bishkek for that matter) is very thorough.

The parts were there and cost another 1500T (GBP7?) to extract from their corporate hold. For three rubber rings.


I then trotted off to see the mechanics who I found in a lockup at the back of some car garages. But, whoa!, forty-odd proper motorcycles lined up waiting for who knows what and a half doesn more inside being stripped down. The one bloke was even hauling the spring out of a fork as I walked in. Top!

After some confusion (there was no common language) which turned out to be them saying the bike would be ready tomorrow at 6pm in answer to my question what time do you open. Luckily someone who could speak both English and Russian saved the day.

I was back there today and they worked their way through both forks and changed the engine oil and filter. Thanks to the local ATMs refusing to hand out more than 10000T in one go (GBP40) I didn't have enough money to pay them to change my chain and sprockets so I'd arranged that I would do that myself. Which I did by bending the locking plate on the chain as I forgot to use the press plate in the chain kit (fortunately the blokey dug out a magic tool that affects a single rivet and could improve the situation) and then it turned out that I'd put the front sprocket on the wrong way round and the chain wouldn't budge. So there was a bit of a head-scratch before the man pointed out the obvious error.

They have a nice little set-up there with some tables and chairs on the far side of the plot which I assumed were for a local bike club. I'd started my work on the bike before they opened up but it turned out it was a little cafe. Very nice. Unable to use. Will know for next time.


I had intended to send an update last night but I'd wandered the streets for too long (impressed with the place), suffered at the hands of a Russian-only menu (I recognised kebab and went for it), and sampled the local German-style beer (which I also failed to identify any difference between their two offerings). I might try them again tonight as it's over the road from my intended eating-house and the best selection of beers place is too far to bother walking to.

So I was wandering back to the hotel -- which does single rooms without a shower (but a washbasin and toilet in the en-suite) for 3000T and a twin room with a half-size bath/shower (think Japanese) for 6500T. But if you trot down the corridor you get to use the huge, thundering, super hot shared shower which is the best shower I've used on the trip. That I can remember anyway.

Anyway, I was wandering back around 11 thinking about finding an Internet cafe but more precisely thinking that there were no small shops to sell me a night cap when a bloke said hello and started to talk. He thought I looked English (a gross insult, obviously) and we went on to chat about this and that. He's a FR (again!) with several months a year on holiday (how does that work?) and is more of a clubber with a view to seeing the other half of people through the medium of house music. Not sure how well that works outside the major cities but fair enough. Anyway, we went for a beer in a bar and yak yak yak and it's 2:30! Blimey! I've got to get up in the morning!

So, there we are. And I've had a haircut, at last. My powers are returning!

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