on Tour

Koh Lanta, Thailand

Back to Kazakhstan, Back to Civilization


Loooooong stretches without anything than a straight road and a powerline next to it. Heat, dryness, wild horses and camels. Yes, we arrived in Kazakhstan again! Entering the country was the most uncomplicated border crossing since Europe, without any visa or questioning. We got our stamps, and we were in. Because Kazakhstan has changed its visa regulations since we’ve been there. Now Swiss can enter visafree for two weeks. Yay!

Coming from Kyrgyzstan we almost underestimated Kazakhstan. We decided to take the smaller but more scenic route to Almaty, which crossed the border in the East. Very few and small towns with long distances in between awaited us. A really gorgeous landscape, especially just after the border rewarded the small detour. But – Kazakhstan is much dryer in that specific area than Kyrgyzstan used to be 100 km south. Which means: we were not prepared that we’d had to take much water again with us. Fortunately there were some caykhanas along the road with water were we could refill day by day.

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On the way to Almaty we were finally trying to finish off all our food stock. It took a while, as everyone who met us on the road may imagine… 🙂 But exactly about one day before our flight we finished even the last packages and cans.

Arriving in Almaty was like landing on a different planet. Back in civilization! Okay, it sounds stupid for you at home, but we were amazed by the food, the cafés, the restaurants, the shops and malls, the traffic (no honking anymore!) and the life going on normally like in a city in Europe… We had some different tasks to do, like finding bikeboxes for the flight, so we planned a week in Almaty. One week to find two bike boxes, one reasonable new tire (the glue helped me out till Almaty), some other small stuff and to see the city. In fact, thanks to actual SHOPS (not a bazar), we managed to get two bikeboxes within 5 minutes, a new rearview mirror and a good (Vittoria) tire, a bottlecage and some more stuff in half a day. We even got cheap Malaria medicine (for next to nothing)! We almost couldn’t believe, how efficient we were able to shop! It was like “googleing shops, cycle there, find what you want in excellent quality, buy it”. Sounds like you do at home – but for us a completely overwhelming shopping experience! 🙂

Half a day for the musts, than we had enough time to see Almaty. Autumn weather, grey sky, sometimes rain – perfect weather to hang around in nice cafés and bars. Prices reminded me of Switzerland, but the quality did as well. Thanks to the cheap Tenge, which lost almost about a third of its value since June, it wasn’t too bad…

Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention: Almaty seems to be the land of milk and honey in Central Asia. Sushi one night, Italian the next one. It was just great, I’ve never eaten such a delicious tomato soup before! Especially the Italian restaurant was the best one we could find – like in Italy, if not even better!!

The day of the flight came closer, we threw away lots of stuff and sent our souvenirs and Francis winter clothes home. Lightweight as hell (comparatively) we took a taxi to the airport. During the check-in, an evacuation took place. As everyone did, we had to get out of the building and wait until the task force gave the all-clear. The funny thing: Nobody spoke English, not the evacuating staff, no passenger. Pffff… After two hours, the people entered the airport again – and so did we. Probably nothing happened, we never found out…

Check in done easily, despite 91kg (including bikes) no overweight charge paid (35$ each bike) and stamped out of Kazakhstan. Klack – goodbye Central Asia!

[Sorry, we’ve got no single photo of Almaty. We were so busy with relaxing, that we forgot to take some. But google it, then you know how it looks like… Substitutional: How do you measure civilization? Exactly, with the standards of petrol-station-shops and/or the number of traffic lights. I couldn’t find out the number of traffic lights, so I show you a petrol-station-shop at the road entering the city. Got it?]

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