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Browsing Archive: October, 2011

'I use to think that the day would never come...'

Posted by Penny Young on Sunday, October 30, 2011,
How crazy it is that tomorrow we cross the border into the EU! Where on earth has time gone?

We're spending our final night in Russia, rather unglamourously, at a motel about 150km from the Latvian border. We're drinking down russian beers and sucking the free wifi dry whilst waiting to see what the english-free waitress has whipped up in the kitchen from the things that I pointed to (unwittingly) on the menu... I've already guessed that like everything else in Russia, it will be smothered in ...
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Uncle Pasha’s Dacha

Posted by Penny Young on Sunday, October 30, 2011,

I knew Joe wanted to master the horse riding skills he picked up in Kazakhstan, and i suspected he also wanted to get naked in a banya and slap himself with birch twigs – and before I knew it, he had found a man called Uncle Pasha on that wonderful internet thing and booke...


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Moscow, I love you down to your Metro.

Posted by Penny Young on Sunday, October 30, 2011,
I developed a massive crush on Moscow as we wandered down some steps to escape the chilly concrete sky and into an underpass, empty, save a lone babushka rugged up in her layers with a piano accordion on her lap. As Joe dropped some coins in her case she paused from her melody to coo and giggle her thanks before chirruping away again as we reached the other side. It completed an old s...
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The March to Moscow

Posted by Penny Young on Thursday, October 27, 2011, In : Russia 

When we were rolling out the driveway in Bondi 10 months ago in our outlandishly overpacked car, Russia seemed a milestone too far away to contemplate. It was like a made up destination on our fantasy road trip that we dare not plan too much in case it never eventuated. It seemed even more unachievable post shark attack, when we almost lost faith in being able to complete the...


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The Midas Touch

Posted by Penny Young on Sunday, October 23, 2011,
After a couple of days in a twilight zone of unbelievably generous Kazak hospitality, you’d’ve scarcely recognised Joe and I from the nervous wrecks who rolled into the little known town of Aktobe in a broken car and a blind panic.

But meeting a man who can only be described as Kazakhstan’s unofficial ambassador (if not national treasure) turned out to be a gargantuan stroke of...


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What ails Bob.

Posted by Penny Young on Friday, October 14, 2011,
I’ve got a horrible image in my head of us driving up the M1 sitting on nothing but a chassis tethered to a small donkey.

The reason I say so is because slowly over the past month or so things have just started to, er, break. Firstly we had a leaky back window which it now plugged with a substantial slather of gaffer tape (thanks VHA – great leaving present); secondly our Garm...


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Drinking with the Uzbeks, and how we missed the Aral Sea

Posted by Penny Young on Friday, October 14, 2011,

Just as we were finishing another delicious shaslyck dinner in Turkistan (delicious, but also the only thing we knew how to order on the menu), a band of VERY merry Uzbeks at the table next to us struck up conversation with Joe and, much to the amusement of everyone else in the restaurant, quickly persuaded him to sit down again and drink cognac with them. This confused Joe as the b...


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Bears & Horses

Posted by Penny Young on Friday, October 14, 2011,
Aksu Zhabagly is Kazak’s oldest nature reserve whose rocky and snow capped mountains straddle the borders between Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. It’s an isolated wonderland of Juniper trees, wild apples, Ibex and Bears – and the elusive Kazak snow leopard.

We met up with a lovely Zhabagly local (an NGO guide and nature enthusiast), Svetlana, in Almaty who happily hand dre...

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Brushes with the law...

Posted by Penny Young on Wednesday, October 12, 2011,
We knew before we arrived that the biggest hazard on Kazakhstani roads wasn’t in fact going to be the car sized potholes. Indeed, the reputation of the nations' Rozzers was fierce.

As Joe mentioned in his last blog, our 350km drive from the border into Almaty lulled us into a false sense of calm to the prevailing situation. We copped our first fine, as Joe explains, for accident...


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What to expect from Almaty?

Posted by Penny Young on Saturday, October 8, 2011,
If you arrive by plane and Almaty is your first impression of Kazakhstan, then you'd be easily forgiven for thinking that Sacha Baron Cohen is full of S*&t. This place is euro-tastic, it stinks of money and the 'B' word is strictly a no-no.

I was really surprised by Almaty; whilst there's still evidence of the soviet 'grey-wash', its a bustling city of bmw/mercedes traffic jams, expensive shops and leafy parks oozing with lavishly noisey wedding parties. Weddings are a big deal here. There mus...
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Still in Room 302

Posted by Penny Young on Monday, October 3, 2011,
Its groundhog day again in Almaty. We've somehow managed to end up back in the very same narrow single beds of the very same cheap 70s Eastern Bloc hotel we spent our first night in Kazakhstan in, 14 days ago.

We spent the afternoon sat in the autumnal flanked Gorky (Central) Park listening to 'Dancing Queen' play over the loud speakers, interspersed with a rumble of Russian radio presenters and the grunt and whir of long unused merry go round, contemplating our fate.

We've been stuck in Alma...
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Just some closing thoughts on China…

Posted by Penny Young on Monday, October 3, 2011,
I’ve had a fortnight to mentally and physically uncoil out of China, and yet I’m still undecided about how to call the 28 day whirlwind of delights and near-death experiences. I always thought that it would be the nemesis of our trip; expensive, difficult and exhausting. But, for better or worse, it’s been the place that’s ‘affected’ me the most on the trip so far – the ...
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Kazakhstan - Fines or Friendliness

Posted by Joseph Ferrar on Monday, October 3, 2011,
The only information that we had read about Kazakhstan, prior to entering Kazakhstan, was largely negative. We'd focused our attentions on travel blogs from those who have driven through the country and there was a consistant theme. Its incredibly expensive, corruption is rife and the roads are a nightmare. As you can therefore imagine, we were somewhat nervous about the 30 days we had printed on our visa.

After two weeks in Kazakhstan, I feel compelled to write about how far from the truth ...


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