Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan 2018

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan 2018

Kazakhstan 2018


Today’s diary entry will be fairly brief, not because the day was short as such, but because it was remarkably uneventful.  It took two days to get from Almaty to the Aral Sea, two days to look around this section of the Aral Sea, and today was the first day of the two day return journey.

The day began well.  I had a good sleep at my homestay accommodation, and once again my hostess prepared a lovely breakfast of fried eggs and plain bread accompanied by black tea.  Eating breakfast was a little less awkward than yesterday because rather than sitting and watching me eat my breakfast (like yesterday), my hostess sat at the table watching classical musical videos on her mobile phone, pausing intermittently to swat flies that were swarming around the table.

Serik was unavailable for today’s drive back to Kyzylorda, as was the driver who drove me to Aralsk from Kyzylorda on Tuesday.  However, his younger brother was available (using the same car as Tuesday), so we set off at a little after 9:30am to begin the 480 kilometre road trip.  The younger brother, who spoke no English, seemed determined to get to Kyzyloarda as quickly as possible, possibly because he intended returning directly home to Aralsk after dropping me off.  We made the journey in five hours, largely because he was insistent on never stopping – not for photos, not for toilets, and not even for smoking his cigarettes.  He did light up once while driving – and even kept re-raising the windows when I kept lowering them – but thankfully he didn’t try that a second time (probably put off by my uncontrollable fit of coughing and sneezing).  In the end, we made just one stop when the driver had a toilet need that couldn’t be satisfied within the confines of the car.

The last part of the journey as we approached Kyzylorda was very slow as the driver had no idea how to get to the hotel.  With no common language and just sign language, I directed him in using Citymaps2Go on my phone – an app that has proved invaluable on many occasions on my travels.

After experiencing the accommodation in Aralsk, the Hotel Kyzylorda looked much better than I remembered it from earlier in the week.  Once again, upon request, I was given the hotel’s room that has internet (room 317), the same room as I had earlier in the week.

I spent the first hour and a half after arriving at the hotel catching up on some e-mails, and then after realising I had been sitting down all day, decided to go for a short walk around Kyzylorda.  Using my internet access, I googled “top things to see and do in Kyzylorda”, but the list that returned from the search was pathetically (and yet predictably) short.

The number one sight was apparently the Town Square, conveniently located a few blocks from the hotel, so I made that my destination.  No doubt the location of the city’s Lenin statue during Soviet times, the town square (known officially as Tsentral’naya Ploshchad) is a large, open, paved area with a working fountain at one end (near the street), the N Bekezhenov Drama Theatre at the end end, with two large buildings down one side, the Korkyt ATA University and the Zdaniye Suda building.  Although largely empty because of its large size, there were families enjoying the afternoon sun in the square, children riding bikes and working men and women using the square as a short cut to walk to this or that destination.  Near the fountain at the end of the square near Zheltoqsan Street, there were several garden beds of colourful flowers interspersed with seating and a large “I-heart-Kyzylorda” sign, but strangely this very pretty, more intimate part of the square was deserted.

I returned to the hotel via a mini-market to buy a bottle of water, and then decided to have an early 5:30pm dinner in the hotel’s café (having missed lunch because, well, we couldn’t stop the car on the drive from Aralsk).  It was a lovely meal; two pieces of baked chicken on a bed of mashed potatoes, with a side salad of tomatoes and cucumber, a ring of warm bread and a bottle of Coca-Cola, all for 2,255 tenge (which is just $Aust.8.58, including the 10% tax).

Having an early dinner also gave me the opportunity to do a thorough hand wash of all the clothes I had been wearing while exploring the Aral Sea.  Hopefully, I will start tomorrow with a very limited but entirely dry wardrobe (actually backpack) of clean clothes.

Day 5

Aralsk to Kyzylorda


31 August 2018