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 Almaty for two weeks now, and with only a 30 day visa and it being the 9th biggest country in the world and all, we really need to get a wriggle on. But as of this afternoon, we'd only solved 50% of the problems we'd come here to solve. Firstly, we needed to get Joe the elusive Russian visa (the one that would allow us to leave Kazakhstan), and secondly, we were waiting on a replacement camera to be sent from Sydney. Our entire fate was in the hands of DHL. Gulp.

We hadn't really minded spending a quiet week stuffed inside the violently decorated walls of our green veleur soviet apartment (the one whose lift smelt as though several chickens had died in it). But by day ten our patience was wearing thin, and DHLs online tracking system was giving me heartburn. Add to that my fever pitch anxiety of having to dodge Almaty's passport police whilst Joe's passport was AWOL, and it wasn't altogether a relaxing week. But we made the most of Almaty's tree lined streets and parks, it's ridiculously expensive tennis courts and visited the amazing ski village which is just 15kms away, albeit its still autumn here so none of the runs are open.

Much to our relief, Joe's passport showed up, complete with onwards visa on Friday, and the camera showed promise of showing up on Saturday, but got held up at customs, putting us back a few more days and sending us on a wild goose chase today to the Customs office at Almaty International Airport. No one spoke English and we were turned away at the counter until some nice random bloke in a leather jacket and shiny shoes decided to help the falangs out and spent the next twenty minutes going from door to door asking someone to help us, and finally leading us to a customs clearance specialist who eventually managed to get our camera released at about half the cost we were expecting (at 10pm - yay!)

So, back on the road tomorrow, finally, and I'll write a bit more about Almaty then...