Trip update: Kazakhstan

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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by ben_hanscombe » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:07 pm

I had one more stop in Kazakhstan before getting the train to Tashkent. This was Aktobe. Another five hours by taxi, excluding the time spent waiting by the road after the car ran out of fuel.

Aktobe wasn't promising.

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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by ben_hanscombe » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:08 pm

But fuck it. I arrived in the early evening and I had an early morning train the next day, so it didn't matter.
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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by ben_hanscombe » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:09 pm

At least someone loves the place.Image
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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by ben_hanscombe » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:11 pm

But mostly it's just a railway town...

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... and I was there to get on a train.
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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by Lincoln » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:14 pm

Yeah but why not?....whats the odds of you passing that way again in your lifetime?....i'd have gone for sure.

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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by ben_hanscombe » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:22 pm

It's a long fucking way from Aktobe to Tashkent. 35 hours by hot, airless train. I shared an open compartment with an Uzbek couple and two Russian kids, one of them in a t-shirt that said Team Putin on it; all four had gone on the train in Chelyabinsk, 28 hours before I got on. Here's the guy of the couple.

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They'd brought a shitload of food with them: bread, cake, sausage, some sort of stewed lamb. They'd got toothpicks and table salt. They'd thought of everything, possibly because they were carrying all their worldly possessions with them. They insisted I share this food, no matter how nervous I was about eating stewed lamb that had been sitting in a baking hot train carriage for God knows how long.

Towards sunset we passed the marshy outskirts of where the Aral Sea used to be.

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Then we carried on through the night...

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...and, after three and a half hours at the border, arrived in Uzbekistan in the late afternoon the following day.
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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by ben_hanscombe » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:26 pm

Lincoln wrote:Yeah but why not?....whats the odds of you passing that way again in your lifetime?....i'd have gone for sure.
Exactly. There was no real reason for this diversion through Kazakhstan, but it's been a long time since I've had time for aimless travel like this and it feels good.
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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by ben_hanscombe » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:29 pm

The plan is to come back to Kazakhstan when my Uzbek visa runs out, to see some of the more touristy sights in the south before leela goes home. I'll pick this thread up then.

Until then - Trip Update: Uzbekistan coming soon!
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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by erkat » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:31 pm

The guy has the punch drunk look of someone who has been on a train for 28 hours.

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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by ben_hanscombe » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:42 pm

In his case it was more like 53 hours.

I think my train journey record is fifty. Which wasn't too bad, but that's because it wasn't boiling bastard hot.
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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by GLimpet » Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:43 pm

The tubes are hot water pipes.

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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by ben_hanscombe » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:46 pm

Part II!

Uzbekistan isn't a batshit country to travel in. As I said in my trip report in 2014, you don't need to shit on the beach. Same goes for Kazakhstan, provided you don't work in the oil industry. So I wasn't too concerned about the border crossing between the two. The LP said to turn up early and be prepared to wait. Fine.

There was chaos just before the border on the Uzbek side, but nothing you haven't seen before if you've, say, crossed from Thailand to Cambodia or used any train station in India or any bus station in Africa. We got in a queue to get our passports checked before getting to passport control proper. It moved quickly enough. As in Georgia, there was a sign wishing us good luck.

After the sign the batshit started. The passport control windows were in two narrow corridors to which people were granted access a few dozen at a time. There was a huge crush of people waiting for access to each of these corridors, with no attempt at a queue or any sort of crowd control beyond one official stopping the bottleneck. It was hot and sweaty and cramped, with shoving on every side. No concessions made for people with kids, or the infirm or elderly - though in the event it seemed like the old ladies were the most adept at wriggling their way to the front. Finally we got close and the official started letting people through; the crowd surged forward so violently that a huge frosted glass window shattered, and a woman got knocked over and nearly trampled.

Then, passport control, where half a dozen people at a time shoved their documents through each official's window. Then customs, then a long walk, then Kazakh passport control: same bottleneck as before, and the same crush of people, but bigger this time because the two crushes on the Uzbek side had been merged into one. It felt dangerous, like someone could get badly hurt.

Eventually we got through, unscathed except for a couple of small cuts from the shattering glass. After this experience, we decided to treat ourselves to a private taxi to Shymkent.
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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by Scrubb » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:50 pm

I spent 4 hours at the Shymkent train station once. The toilets (for which you pay) are disgusting.
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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by ben_hanscombe » Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:01 pm

Didn't use the train station in Shymkent, but I can attest that the toilets in the station in nearby Turkistan are likewise Super Gross.
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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by GLimpet » Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:07 pm

ben_hanscombe wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:46 pm
Part II!

Uzbekistan isn't a batshit country to travel in. As I said in my trip report in 2014, you don't need to shit on the beach. Same goes for Kazakhstan, provided you don't work in the oil industry.
Even working in the oil industry, I don't remember having to shit on the beach in Kazakhstan.

But then I'm so old school I remember when Aktobe was Aktyubinsk. We did a job there about 1996, but I didn't go - somebody else, a Yorkshireman, did. I would've liked to have seen it then.

His verdict was same as most places: fookin shit'ole.
I remember him being impressed by the mobile brothel that came to the rig though.

Six or seven years later I was talking to a Russian engineer who turned out to have been the company man on that job. He told me he still had some of our rental equipment. Customs had defeated us and we never managed to re-export it back from Kazakhstan.

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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by VinnyD » Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:19 pm

You will be happy to learn that Aktobe means Whitehill. Ak is white in Turkey Turkish, but hill is tepe, as in Kültepe, the Hittite site near Kayseri.

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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by GLimpet » Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:24 pm

That's funny - two of my service techs now are from Fitehulls, which is Doric for Whitehills.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitehills

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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by simon_in_exile » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:34 pm

Nothing to add except my appreciation - I’m really enjoying the reports and subsequent banter in these threads.
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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by cowtown » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:50 pm

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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by ben_hanscombe » Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:30 am

The guy who drove us to Shymkent loved tourists. We know this because he used 50% of his English vocabulary to say "Tourist? I love you, tourist!" He used the rest of his English vocabulary to tell us that Anglia football very good. "Manchester United, I love you!"

He was keen to show off south Kazakhstan, stopping at this wildly incongruous monument.

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It's a long way from the sea.

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He'd wanted ten thousand tenge for the trip and agreed to take us for eight. When we arrived at the hotel, no-one had change for a ten thousand tenge note. In a lot of places in this situation he'd have just taken the ten thousand but this guy wouldn't hear of it; eventually he went off with leela to the ticket counter at the small theme park next door to our hotel, where they changed our banknote.

Here's the theme park.

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And here's dinner. Food in Uzbekistan had been pretty terrible - the shashlik was good, but man cannot live on hunks of meat alone - so I had no shame ordering half decent western food when we found it here.

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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by ben_hanscombe » Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:38 am

There's nothing to see in Shymkent. The LP wants to tell you that "pre- Russian Shymkent" is really interesting to walk around. It isn't. Here is by far its most interesting building.

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But the town is pleasant. Surprisingly green.

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Lots of public space.

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Probably better looked after than a lot of towns at home.

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Not about to win any architectural plaudits, though.

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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by ExPat From Hell » Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:25 am

10,000 is about $29 per google. So you saved...$6?

How much for a glass of wine/ How is the wine?
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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by GLimpet » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:02 am

Shymkent looks a bit like the nicer bits of Siberian towns or even Sakhalin.

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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by VinnyD » Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:00 am

The kent in Shymkent (and in Tashkent, and the kand in Samarkand) means town. Can't help you with shym. (But Tash means stone.)

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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by DCComic » Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:02 am

Etymology. The name Chimkent comes from two Sogdian words, chim meaning 'turf' and kent (or kand) meaning 'city'; thus "city in the grass/turf." After Kazakhstan gained independence, the city was renamed Shymkent in 1993 as part of the government's campaign to apply Kazakh names to cities.
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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by VinnyD » Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:22 am

That's interesting. Sogdian was an Iranian language, so Turkish kent must be a borrowing from Persian into Turkish.

Also Wiki: Samarkand probably originates in the Sogdian words asmara, "stone, rock" and kand, "fort, town".

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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by GLimpet » Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:05 pm

ExPat From Hell wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:25 am
10,000 is about $29 per google. So you saved...$6?

How much for a glass of wine/ How is the wine?
You can find a bar menu for a Shymkent restaurant in this link:

http://meyramgroup.kz/zavedeniya/restor ... ml#gkabc44

Prices seem in about the same range as provincial Russia (or even Moscow) - US$3.50-$7 for a glass of OK wine, $11-$50 for a bottle. (Chilean Cab Sav to Tuscan Red)

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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by Lost Soul » Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:12 pm

VinnyD wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:22 am
That's interesting. Sogdian was an Iranian language, so Turkish kent must be a borrowing from Persian into Turkish.

Also Wiki: Samarkand probably originates in the Sogdian words asmara, "stone, rock" and kand, "fort, town".
The Turkish tribes spent a lot of time crossing Persian Central Asia, and Persia itself, on the way to Greek Anatolia. So it makes sense.
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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by VinnyD » Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:31 pm

There are lots of Persian words in Turkish. Persian was the official language of the Ottoman court until about the time of the fall of Constantinople, and for long after that educated Turks spoke Persian the way educated Russians spoke French c. 1800.

There was an effort under Atatürk to replace foreign (mostly Arabic and Persian) words with words from Turkish roots. I can't say how successful it was.

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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by Lost Soul » Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:56 pm

Well, they successfully turned Persia from a land of evil white people (redundant) into a land of nobler, browner, Iranian people (redundant).
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Re: Trip update: Kazakhstan

Post by cowtown » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:57 pm

did you spend much time at Creepyland?

it looks like dude is about to eat a donkey turd
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