A dreary day of rain
|Travel From||–||Astana, Kazakhstan|
|Miles Driven Today||–||180 Miles|
|Total Trip Mileage||–||7404 Miles|
|Countries visited Today||–|
|Countries visited on trip||US, Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Kazakhstan|
We started in the dry, but over the course of the route, we crossed into and out of rain. Sometimes hard rain, but mostly mild rain. We attempted to make a stop for coffee at about 10:30, but we tried three different places, all of which were either not open, or boarded up. Eventually the door we had tried to open was the wrong door.
Once inside, I made mention that they could really benefit from a “Open” , “Closed” sign. But, it is not likely that anything will change at this small shop, in the middle of nowhere.
As we approached Karagandy, we stopped for gas, and had to make the decision of riding directly to the hotel, or riding to a Kazakhstan/Russian labor camp, much like the labor camp at Dachau, near Munich. I continue to be fascinated by this part of our world history, and I was keen to go, but the weather looked sour, so as a group, we decided to to go the hotel first, and then see about going to the camp in a cab, leaving the bikes at the hotel.
We arrived at the hotel, checked in, and found the rooms to be, once again, very pleasant, with very spotty Internet bandwidth. It seems that if multiple guests try to use the Internet at the same time, there simply isn’t enough bandwidth to produce anything better than dismal performance.
The Karlag Labor Camp
At 1:30, we organized ourselves into a little Lada cab, and headed to the Karlag camp. It’s best to read about the camp on Wikipedia, as I could never get all of the details that truly show how horrible this place was. So, please visit wikipedia for more.
That said, the exhibits might have been interesting, but almost none of the literature was in English, so we got very little out of the visit, and after a 45 minute cab ride in each direction, and spending an hour at the camp, it felt like we could have spent 3 hours more effectively.
Report from the road
Well, dinner was OK, but we had profiteroles with ice cream for dessert, and ice cream is one of Phil’s favorite things on Earth. So, at least dessert was good.
But, before dinner got started, we met a guy. As it turns out, in the dining room, there was a party that was scheduled to end at 8:00 PM, and we kind of crashed their party. These guys were businessmen, from Poland, Kazakhstan, and perhaps other places. I met the Polish guy, and he seemed very articulate, and well-read, and he indicated that the other guy was in charge. So, I asked, “Is the other guy the boss”, and he said something like “He’s the boss of the liqueur”. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, be we’d find out soon enough.
Before long, this Kazak gentleman started offering shots of his favorite liqueur, called Cha Cha. I took a shot, as did Bruno, and I think perhaps Martin. We took a few pictures, and I decided I’d do a quick interview with this guy, thinking it might be fun.
Now, it’s very seldom that I lose complete control, but I’d like you to be the judge, and let me know who’s in control.
What will tomorrow bring?
Tomorrow will be a ride of about 400K, or 270 miles. The weather was bad today, so we’re not sure what tomorrow will bring, but we’ll have rain gear, plenty of coffee, some Red Bull and snacks. That’s our emergency pack, to handle any eventuality.
I’ve learned tomorrow will be a long day, and a short night, as we’ll need to depart the hotel the following morning at 7:00 AM. Also, the hotel has been described as rustic, and austere, so I’m not expecting any Internet at all. So, you’ll need to enjoy these two posts, as they will be the last until we reach Almaty, in 2 days time.
Wish us luck…