Before starting today, we must complete last night after the blog was posted. We had some entertainment by several of the locals playing their native instruments, singing and dancing. It was both enjoyable and unique and their costumes were beautiful.
Breakfast in the morning was the same as dinner last night – a stand up affair. The support was of a different level from that of Nomads who we had in Mongolia but the food was good and the people couldn’t do enough for everyone. It’s interesting to hear the group all together – all different languages going at all times, however, when they need to speak to one another, they all use English.
I think you have all seen enough boring scenery for a while so I’ll just confirm that the landscape remains unchanged, flat land going forever on our right and now somewhat steep hills on our left. This seems to be characteristic of the northern part of Kazakhstan.
While I’m not big on cemeteries, just thought I might include one for the record. All these little buildings are without roofs, I guess to allow the soul ascent to heaven – many are quite elaborate and probably dependent on the individual’s status and wealth.
The little villages are all quite similar with each house having its own fenced in area as their animals stay right with the families. While not fancy, they are all neat and reasonably well cared for.
Many of the industrial areas appear to be closed or shut down and some are quite extensive. There is a major shift in the core wealth of this country as extensive mineral reserves have been discovered and perhaps the world’s largest copper mine is under development.
As we get closer to Almaty, the frequency of these little but very active villages increases. A large number of the small businesses here deal with cars and car parts – understandable based on the condition of the roads which, although far better than Mongolia, are still quite rough and uneven.
As we begin to approach Almaty, the terrain shifts to more rolling hills and softens. While trees may have been planted along the roadside, they are still not present in the surrounding natural areas thereby creating some interesting landscapes. Further, the further south we go, the cars improve in quantity and quality. Near Almaty, the favorites are Audis and Mercedes including new and large models of both.
And just outside Almaty, we get real mountians – they must ski here in the winter. I’ll get a better shot tomorrow – sorry.
I do have a bit of unpleasant news to report. In the morning while en route to Almaty we passed a flock of sheep grazing on the median of a divided roadway. As we passed, something must have spooked the animals and they darted out right in front of the car. Unfortunately there was nothing we could do and 2 of the sheep were struck and killed. Damage to the car was slight.
Lloyd stopped to compensate the shepherd who was standing about 200 meters up the road looking like he had been waiting for something like that to occur. I’m certain that he got more for his sheep here than he would have at the market.
And of course, we had to “Press on Regardless”.
Arrival at the Intercontinental Hotel was greatly anticipated as it was rated as a 5 star hotel and we were not disappointed. The rooms are comfortable and modern and the food was excellent. I’m sure we are just getting spoiled for what comes next which I’m sure will be nowhere near as glamorous. Guess we just have to enjoy it while we can.
Maintenance tomorrow so till then …