Seeing as Rus and I stumbled in around 5am in the morning, we had very little sleep. We woke up around 9:30am still drunk, dehydrated and sleep deprived. We felt horrible.
However we had to force ourselves to drive. We met up with the others at around 11am and started our journey. Rus got the short straw and had the first driving shift and I tried my hardest to nap in the car so I was ready for my turn.
Further down the road we got pulled over by the police for not having our headlights on. Rus had to go speak to the police officer whilst still feeling the effects of the previous night. Luckily managed to compose himself and go unnoticed!
The drive was better this time, we hit the “red roads” which are complete tarmac and actual roads, so we managed to cruise 300k easy in the day, heading for the space port. We’re now about 1/4 of our way through Kazakhstan now.
We headed for the Aral sea to look at the famous ship graveyard.
Randomly when we stopped for petrol a guy came over to talk to us and ended up giving an entire bit of horse meat and 6 litre bottles of camels milk…. Camels milk is rough! Very sour and bizarre… I’m not a fan. The horse meat he gave us was huge. About ½ a metre of this thick thick horse meat sausage encased in horse intestine…. shoved in a plastic bag.
We got the town Aral by nightfall so drove through it and found a good camping spot. It took two attempts as the first one seemed to be some kind of unofficial graveyard. I nearly fell into what appeared to be a freshly dug, empty grave in the middle of no where, with a tonne of empty beer cans next to it. I can only assume these were the beers of the people digging it.
We drove on again and 10 minutes later we found a better spot. We setup camp and enjoyed the horse meat with spaghetti and a tomato puree sauce that we mixed together. It was absolutely lovely, THANK YOU RANDOM PETROL STATION MAN!
The next morning we head off around 11am and make our way to find the ship graveyard. Literally 2 hours of driving around without a sign post asking local after local where it was. No one knew, or had no idea what we were saying. Unfortunately we had to give up our search for the ship graveyard and just make our way to the space station which was only a couple hours drive away.
We arrive at the space station and wanted to find out when the next launch was. So we headed up to the border to talk to the guards assuming they’d know. The space station is Russian owned and theres a little town near by which is Russian owned too. The guards were great, we joked around and chatted with them for around 30 minutes whilst they told us there was a launch planned and told us how to go about getting into the space station to see it close up.
We followed there advice and headed for the Russian city, hoping we’d be able to get in with our current Visa’s. Harris went to investigate and turned out we needed permission from Moscow to enter which takes 2 days. By coincidence at the border Harris met a van full of Russian space center managers who are managing this particular launch. They offered to show us a hotel and drive us to the best place to see the launch.
We got to the hotel checked in, bought all the Russians beers and we drove out to the view point… which turned out to be right in front of the station gates where the guards were. The guards saw us coming up again and were laughing at the sight of our cars again.
We all got out and had a chat with them for about 30 minutes whilst drinking our beers. They told us what they did at the center and about the contents of the rocket etc We got them to sign our cars and they took our numbers to visit us in future. We asked if there were any jobs going at the space center but sadly there isnt 🙁
We drove back to the hotel and spent the night on their balcony sipping cold beers, smoking luxury greek cigarettes and star gazing.
The following day we got up, had breakfast and then had a long wait until the launch. The launch was at 1:30am in the evening, so we had to spend the entire day at the hotel. It’s a family run hotel and we were the only guests, so we spent it hanging out in the communal area, chatting with the family and their friends, drinking ice tea, sharing pictures, getting free food, singing kareoke, teaching fire/glow spinning and Harris drove their JCB around the road. Tourists aren’t very common in the places we’re going, so we very quickly become celebrities.
At midnight we headed off to the launch view point. The launch was at 1:30am so we had time to set up cameras, drink some beers and relax. The launch was AWESOME. We saw this huge fire ball fire up into the sky pretty fast. It then headed off diagonally and jettisoned its boosters and reach orbit. We then watched it for a few minutes as it got smaller and smaller until it was the size of any other star and watched it fly across the sky through space. We were about 30-40km away from the launch pad, so the sound was out of sync! It was only 10 seconds or so into the launch we could begin to hear the huge rumble of the rocket. The whole experience was amazing. SPACE ROCKET LAUNCH!
After this we hit the road. We wanted to reach Almaty and figured we’d just drive until we got there, however at about 4am we were tired and had another 4-5 hours of driving to go. We found a nice camp spot in a countryside area used as a dumping ground and setup camp. I’ve now taken to sleeping in the car as its more cmpfy then sleeping on the ground without an inflatable matress…. which I seemed to be the only one on this trip without one.
In the morning the Harris and Marko managed to drive their car into a bog, so I had to use our tow rope to pull them out.
A good few hours into our journey the following day and after a few police stops we bumped into another convoy of 3 cars so we teamed up with them. By the evening we’d reached Almaty and checked into a hotel… by this time there were about 9 cars and 20+ ralliers staying at this hotel.
We all met up in the lobby at 9:30pm to go eat together, one of the guys had found this American resturant about a 30minute walk from the Hotel and given our current diet of petrol station crisps and tinned sardines we figured a huge juicy burger was in order! The resturant even did freshly juiced juice! I had 2 different types of juice and a beer! Was awesome. Freshly juiced juice!
At the resturant one of the guys spoke to a russian local who recommended this club called Esperenza, so we handful of us headed there after. However we couldn’t get in because majority of the guys had flip flops on. We sat in the resturant opposite for a while, had a few cocktails and a shisha, afterwards only a few of us headed off to hit another club next door that would allow us in. Turned out to be a club / strip club, so we hung out in the strip club area for a bit with some beers and then headed home!
The next day I didn’t really do much, as we’d blown out a tyre the previous day I took the car to a garage to get it sorted which took most of the day but we did manage to get 2 new tyres put on. Hopefully enough for mongolia.
The evening was the most fun, we first headed off on a 40 minute walk to an Irish bar where us and 2 hookers seemed to be the only clientelle. The sex industry is huge in Almaty… Appanretly even the majority of girls who arent prostitutes charge guys for sex (just because they can), it’s insane.
I had the most amazing beef stir fry ever and the rest of the crew (about 24 of us) drank the bar dry! Despite me deciding I wasn’t drinking that night, the entire team drank so much the bar gave us 4 free pizzas as a thank you for spending so much money.
A few of the guys were keen on hitting the club we mentioned we visited last night, so after eating we flagged down a random guys car and paid him 400T to take us to the club. In khasakstan every car can be a taxi you just tell them a price and destination and if they’re willing they’ll take you.
At the club Rus and a new convoy kiwi guy called Tom headed off to explore, they came back telling us we were in completely the wrong room. They’d found this fire exit like door which lead down a corridor into the club next door which we were refused entry for because we had trainers on! Result!
Walking into this club was angelic. I could hear the harps and angels singing as I walked through the door. Roughly around 150 of totally hot khasakstan girls and around 20 of the biggest pussy guys circling around. We got ourselfs a table area upstairs and watched the club podiam dancers.
Word had got round what the cooler part of my occupation was, so I ended up giving some of our guys some quick pointers before we all hit the dance floor. With the complete lack of alpha traits in every khasakstan guys, we completely OWNED the entire club.
All I’ll say is… EPIC NIGHT!
How this country has gone from Gengis Khan to how insanely weak these guys are around women is mind blowing.
The following morning everyone was pretty hungover, except for me! We had to wait for our passports to be returned so the convoy headed off without us, but given the speed I drive we caught up soon after. The evening we found a wicked campsite just past a national reserve and chilled out with an epically huge fire. Not long now and we’re out of khasakstan!!
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