Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan 2018

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan 2018

Kazakhstan 2018


My lovely firm bed in the Hotel Kazakhstan was the best I have experienced for over a week, as was the hotel’s breakfast, making my stay in this hotel a very pleasant final stop in Kazakhstan.  The architecture (and the attitudes of the staff) of the hotel may still be stuck in Soviet times, but the bed and the breakfast were great.  I woke this morning feeling more refreshed than I have for a week.

I had just a few hours this morning in Almaty before having to leave for the airport to catch my flight.  After breakfast, I used this time to walk from the hotel to the Independence Monument, a walk that gave me an opportunity to look at a diverse range of interesting geographical phenomena such as the profligate use of water in fountains in this region of water shortages, the extensive use of tree planting and cycleways in urban planning (both carry-overs from the Soviet era), some examples of urban renewal and renovation of Soviet-era housing blocks, and some interesting instances of cultural appropriation in building designs for commercial purposes.  I also found that the landings at the ends of the corridors in my hotel gave some wonderful views across Almaty, mainly looking down on Khrushchev-era housing blocks, but also looking across to new high-rise urban developments with the clearest views of Almaty’s mountain backdrop I have seen on this trip.

My car to the airport was booked to leave at midday, and it was ready right on time.  The drive to the airport was thankfully incident-free, and I arrived at about 12:30pm.  However, the check-in desk for my flight to Novosibirsk didn’t open until 2:20pm, so the next hour and a half was spent sitting around in the waiting area, which fortunately was neither crowded not filled with cigarette smoke like some other public areas in Kazakhstan.

The rest of my day was fairly uneventful.  My two and a half hour flight to Novosibirsk in an S7 Airlines Embraer 170 was comfortable and smooth, as was the connecting flight to Moscow in an S7 Airlines Airbus A320.

Readers of my Kyrgyzstan/Tajikistan diary will know that last time I passed through Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, transferring from an Emirates to an S7 flight about five weeks ago, my luggage was lost and not retrieved for almost three weeks.  As this evening’s transfer was from an S7 to an Emirates flight in the same airport, I was understandably somewhat anxious.  When I checked for my flights at Almaty Airport, my check-in luggage was tagged all the way to my stopover destination (Bangkok), and I was assured that I would not need to collect my luggage at any airport before Bangkok.

After my previous experience, I was feeling a little paranoid, so silly as it might sound, I decided to stand at the luggage carousel in Moscow just in case my luggage was mistakenly offloaded.  I’m pleased I did, because sure enough, my luggage did appear on the carousel together with several other bags marked with “Transfer” tags, and furthermore, the destination tags to Dubai and Bangkok had been removed from my suitcase!  Had I followed the advice given when I checked in, my luggage would once again have been ‘lost’ in transit at Moscow, this time without the correct destination tag (not that this seemed to matter much several weeks ago).

So I retrieved my luggage and took it myself to the Emirates check-in counter to re-submit it.  The agent at the desk seemed surprised that I had done this, saying it should not have appeared on the luggage carousel for me to collect it, and she couldn’t explain why it done so or why the original destination tag had been removed.

My conclusion after two mishandlings (out of two transfers) is that transferring luggage through Moscow’s Domodedovo is a perilous and risky undertaking.  This doesn’t seem to be a problem at all Moscow’s airports, as I had a seamless transfer a week and a half ago with Aeroflot  transferring through Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport – a far smoother, more pleasant and more efficient experience than Domodedovo.

Okay, rant over!

My day concluded as midnight approached sitting in an Emirates Boeing 777 taxiing to the runway in Moscow ready for takeoff to Dubai, with subsequent transfer flights scheduled to take me to Bangkok and then home to Sydney.  It is a long, roundabout route to get home from Almaty, but that’s what can happen when flights are booked using points to save money.

Fortunately, as my family knows well, I love takes-offs, landings, plane spotting, and even airline food, so finished the day in a happy place.

Day 17

Leaving Almaty


27 September 2018