Kasahkstan, part 1

To set the tone…. KASAHKSTAN IS AWESOME!! People are beyond helpful and quality people. The roads are a joke… but driving them is so fun! Food is simple but very tasty!

We made it past the border at night fall, so the following drive was very interesting in near total darkness.

The roads in kasakhstan are horrible, in particular the one immediately following the border. Pot holes everywhere, huge gaps in tarmac, its insane. So we had a very bumpy slow drive for about an hour down this road until we met up with the other ralliers who put their hazards on so we could see them. They guided us off the road to the campsite they’d set up.

We had a fire, ate some food and sat around chit chatting whilst swatting away mozzies. They had decided to camp next to a swampy river… so plenty of bugs! I even had to brush off a tick from my leg… luckily I had my tick vaccinations!

The next morning we got an early start and headed to get petrol. Half of the convoy we were now in were anti social and left, so we were left with Harris & Marco and a car with 2 quality american guys. We convoyed up and drove off to our first destination.

The driving on our first day was hilarious. Again the roads are insane, pot holes, desert, off roading and no road etc Camels roam wild around the country and often you see them crossing the “road” or sitting by the side.

When we hit the desert the driving got insanely fun. We did some high speed stunt driving, skids, races and drove with extreme skill down a desert road with all our mirrors touching. We even drove at high speed with one of the american guys on our roof! Was SO MUCH FUN! This driving session was by far one of the highlights of this entire trip.

Rus did some desert driving too which he enjoyed, although perhaps a little too hardcore for a newbie as he did manage to crash through a sand dune and land the car in another one. After this incident we swapped driving!

After the awesome driving I continued to drive through the desert roads. Marco and Harris stopped every now and then to chase after camels.

This country is SO HOT its ridiculous. The amount of water we’re consuming is mad, every few minutes you need to take another sip to stay hydrated. The americans we met with had a cooler in their car so we had cold water, as opposed to hot water we were drinking! If I did the rally again 2 things I would 100% get would be…. a water cooler…. and a battery powered air conditioner. Have I said how HOT IT IS HERE!?

By night fall we’d covered ½ the distance we wanted as the roads were such a nightmare. So we pulled up and camped in the middle of nowhere for a night. Got a fire going, cooked some food, drank some beer and chilled out looking up at the awesome sky. Stars were epic, looking forward to seeing the sky when the moon is hidden.

The following day we got off to an early start and continued our drive to Aqtobe. The day didn’t start so great as we were pulled over by the police for not having headlights on. We joked with them for a bit and gave them a football as a gift and played frisbe with them. They then stole our frisbe, we got in a sulk and drove off. Fuckers.

Rus did some desert driving again and absolutely blitzed it over the pot holes at about 60mph. Scary! We then managed to start jack-knifing at high speeds about to career off the side of the road. I jumped for the steering wheel and tried to control the car to reduce the effects of the jack-knifing whilst shouting “BRAKE! BRAKE! BRAKE!” The car came to a stop just a metre off the road down a bank. Luckily where we came off there was a clear path down off road where we could rejoin the road again. Scary though, we were both a little shaken. Rus reduced his speed afterwards 😉

The americans seemed to be lagging behind a little bit, as we really wanted to crack on.

Later on in the day we had yet another crash! We were off roading down this “path” to avoid the pot holed main road… and it split into two roads with a huge mound of dirt in the center. We were on the wrong side and our side came to an end! So we had to do a U turn and drive or ages or find a nice way through the mound.

I pointed out a section that was smaller than the rest which we could of potentially got through. We turned around and headed for the section. Rus had a better idea! “I know! I’ll speed up and just drive THROUGH the mound at its HIGHEST POINT!!!” is what he must have been thinking!

When we got wedged in the mound and couldn’t get out, we tried digging and everything… nothing worked. Luckily we had a tow rope and Rus signalled down a truck driving past. The truck driver signalled he’d do it for money, so we hooked up the row rope and we were FREE! Cost us 800T which equates to only £5! Bargain.

We swapped driving again. About an hour later one of our tyres blew. No surprise given the amount of abuse we’d given them, so I had to stop to change the tyre again.

The Americans managed to catch up with us but told us not to wait for them, so we drove on and headed off. Not to see them again, which was a shame as they were top people.

The evening we made it to Aktobe. We freshened up and headed out for dinner. Dinner we met some travelling bikers and some other rallies staying at the same hotel. We chilled with them for a bit, then a couple of Russian and kasakhstan travel writers came and joined us and bought us rounds of shits of vodka. What a great bunch of people, very interesting to talk to, the kasakhstan journalist must have been a sports writer and he knew virtually every single football team and their recent scores!

Sadly we had to leave them as Rus and Marko had scored a date with three kasakhstan girls for later in the night at a club! Result.

Rus went off to another bar near by where we’d meet him. Marco, Harris and I said goodbye to the quality journalists we met and headed to the bar. We couldn’t find it, so I ran over to 3 very hot kasakhstan girls dressed for a night out and asked them where a bar was. After a few minutes they decided they’d take us clubbing. They told us we need to get 2 taxis. So I assumed a couple girls would go ahead and another would take us in a following taxi.

A taxi pulled up and I was literally pushed and bundled into this taxi wedged in the back in between the 3 girls. I very quickly phoned Marco and told them where we were going and they, along with Rus who joined managed to find the club later. For a second I thought I might have been kidnapped… but they turned out to be lovely.

When we all got into the club, we ordered some drinks and started some epic dancing. In khasakstan however, clubbing is very different. You cannot approach random girls in a club and touching is a massive taboo. You simply cannot touch girls when dancing etc until you’re officially dating. Sex is a complete only if you’re married situation.

When I was dancing with the girls, because I was breaking virtually every cultural boundary in the club I was getting a lot of harsh looks and being purposely bumped into by several guys in the club.

After a good couple hours of awesome illegal dancing, we decided to leave. I told the girls we were heading back to the hotel, but they insisted they come with us, so we decided to have a quick drink at a restaurant open late before hand.

Outside the club we hung out with the bouncers for a bit and everyone in the club kept telling me “you lots of girl, you crazy” and singing “sexy and I know it” to me, along with lots of hand shakes. I think my behaviour was obviously new to them.

I even played rock-paper-scissors with one of the girls brother for who she would go home with. I lost!

We headed off to the restaurant in a taxi, Rus, Marco and Harris headed home. The girls bought with them one of their brothers and another male chaperone who sat silent the entire evening starring me out. Bring it on bitch…. I know Krav.

The girls ordered a round of drinks and food for everyone, so we drank and feasted until about 3am, then Rus joined us. At 5am most of the group had left except for Rus’s girl, my girl and that random silent dude. So we walked back to the hotel. Rus walked on one side followed by creepy silent guy and I walked on the other side of the road with my one.

She told me how different it is in khasakstan when it comes to dating etc and that she’d only kissed one boy in her entire life…. and she was 19!

The idea was she’d come to the hotel to “have english culture”. We got to the hotel and there were some guys outside, she saw them and decided to head home. If other people are watching, it’s a major issue for the girls… which was apparent through the entire night and walk back, as she was constantly on the look out and broke contact whenever someone was near by. Such a strict and different culture it’s insane.

Still they said they had the best night of their lifes, we have their emails and will keep in touch. They were lovely 🙂