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Current Location : Kashgar, Xinjiang Province, China
Last entry date : 06 June 2008

Out in the steppe the animals appear so peaceful as they graze the land

21/May/08 to 22/May/08

The Lituanian adventure group (Martyn & Vee + Jonas 1&2) actually came out that morning with their video camera to film my departure from Gulnara guesthouse Tashkent, where they were also staying. Great stuff for their adventure documentary film, they said, which goes on  Lituanian TV later in the year (… eh, suddenly I might be famous in Lituania). Almaty, capital of Kazakhstan was 2 days ride away, and the Krygyzstan border was just before that. I was still undecided if I should visit Krygyzstan.

No stress as I drove up to the customs control at the border, direction Shimkent. The control was lengthy as usual, but some things within the system do not surprise travellers to this region. At the Uzbek last stage border exit, 3 guards openly asked for US$ 10.00 for each of them, while holding onto my passport. I ignored what they were saying and after a while some cars began to queue up behind me. Seeing that I had the time, the guards simply said goodbye and let me through to the Kazakh side. No problem at the Kazakh side except one officer who liked my helmet and asked if I could just leave it there. I said I will do so on my way back.

As I head off towards Almaty, I began to realize that the scenery is different from the road I took in Uzbekistan – that was hot and almost desert enviroment. Here, the steppe countryside rolled in and horses were roaming free, with sheeps and cattle in these wide open spaces. Sheppards could be seen on horsebacks. A feast for the eyes and it continued for most of the day. And no police checkpoint hassles.

That evening I turned into the city centre of Taraz looking for a hotel. A taximan pointed to 2 grand hotels nearby, but these appeared to be a luxury. The next person I stopped to ask for directions to a more decent priced hotel and an internet café happened to be Mr. Suyunduk. He walked me a nearby internet café, then said in the few English words he spoke, that he would be pleased if I would be his guest at his home for the night. This man has not even asked his wife if its OK. Can’t do that in Europe. So spontaneous was his gesture, just like that of Nasir, Ozhan, Ridwan, etc whom I have met earlier. Mr. Suyunduk lives on the 4th floor apartment and had my bike parked in the closed courtyard of his neighbour. In no time, his wife prepared a big Kazakh meal and his daughter was acting as translator. Mr. Suyunduk was a proud Kazakh and he kept saying “Me Kazakh, you Sheen is my guest. Me Kazakh, you France we’re good friends”. Later they even presented me with a traditional Kazakh hat which Mr. Suyunduk then said I am now one of them. I gathered from his gestures friendship and guest take a deep meaning here in Kazakhstan. I felt really welcome. I liked this man. I have to add that he even insisted and brought me out to the internet café as well that evening … What can I say ??

After breakfast the next morning, Mr Suyunduk showed me to the edge of town where I should take the road towards Almaty. A few km later I got radar trapped and was called over by the police for speeding. Not knowing what to do with a foreign bike, they let me off. Again the road took me across the steppe. I was enjoying the scenery. Before lunch I found myself taking a right swing into an offroad towards a Kazakh village just beneath the mountain range separating Kazakhstan and Krygzystan. The photos taken of this lovely part of the countryside speak for themselves. The land is peaceful here. It even crossed my mind to camp right here that evening. That’s when I decided that Krygyzstan was worth a visit and there was no need to hurry to the Chinese border.

13 Responses to « Something special about Kazakhstan (part 1)  »

  1. it’s so beautiful! I’m so happy for you! The photos are great. I can imagine when you took the photos how admirative you must have been. Lots of love. Lydia

  2. Hi Uncle Sheen..

    How have you been travelling ?
    It’s almost 1.5 months since you started your journey..
    My mum always constantly nagging me to update myself with your journey..
    In fact I have but she seems love urging me to pen you some words..
    Perhaps this serves an evidence for her to know that I actually read your blog..
    Anyhow, I think she just wants everyone in our family to share the same exitement wth you, realising your dream as day by day you gradually move forward to your destination…
    I’m looking forward to meeting you again my dear uncle..
    In the meatime, do take care of yourself when riding on the roads..
    I made a Kazakhstan friend today during my presentation in college and she related with me that her country, Kazakhtan, is a cold country..
    I wonder how “cold” over there right now…
    Hmmmmm…

  3. Hello Sheen,
    Beautiful photos and nice people u meet while travelling.Take care and have a good rest.Going to Port Dickson tomorrow.Bye

  4. Oh dada! the pictures are beautiful!!! aaahh si j’avais été la … 🙂 !!! tous ces animaux!!! 🙂 la ptite marmotte est trop belle ! et tous ces chevaux!!! 🙂 alala quelle chance! :p

  5. Coucou Sheen,on est toujours avec toi,on voudrait encore plus de photos,encore plus d’anecdotes.Les gens que tu rencontres sont extraordinaires,quelle leçon pour nous! La steppe et ses animaux superbes .Grosses bises de nous tous prends soin de toi.

  6. Siew Hoon & Victoria6 June 2008 à 8:36 pm

    Hi- Sheen,
    Really beautiful & peaceful photos. Nice people again. Take care.

  7. Mon Dada, je meurs d’envie d’etre avec toi pour decouvrir ces paysages, ces peuples… T’en as de la chance! Continue a nous faire rever.. bisoux I miss U

  8. salut papa tes photos sont trop belle : la marmotte 🙂 je ne sais pas comment tu fais, mais tu es très fort ! bisous je t’aime

  9. Keep it coming cos’ you are providing us with invaluable knownledge ….. beyond what we would have expected, the people, food, sceneries, etc !!! Peter

  10. annie jeanmichel erwan gwen8 June 2008 à 10:07 am

    hi sheenn
    quatre jours sans me connecter
    resultat plus d une heure de bonheur et de reve pour rattraper ton periple en asie centrale
    avec toujours de superbes photos et de merveilleuses rencontres
    je t envie….
    bisous annie
    nous te souhaitons une bonne continuation dans ton voyage de la part de erwan gwen et gem

  11. tu passes par des chemins très … étroits… te fatigue pas trop parce que tun n’es pas près de finir 😉 continue comme cela!

  12. Coucou sheen,

    Au travers de tes photos, de tes commentaires, de tes anecdotes, il est évident que tu vis quelque chose d’exceptionnel. Tu te régales, ça se voit et ça se sent.
    Que ta route soit toujours aussi belle (photos magnifiques) et nous, de notre petit village gattiérois, nous suivons ta route avec admiration…

    Biz Marie-Laure

  13. Hello, Sheen!!!

    U r welcome to our lovely country Kazakhstan.

    Good luck

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