09-06 Day 58 (Karagandy, Kazakhstan)

A dreary day of rain


Travel FromAstana, Kazakhstan
Intermediate Location 
Ending LocationQaraghandy
Starting Odometer31,767
Ending Odometer31,947
Miles Driven Today180 Miles
Total Trip Mileage7404 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

The Ride

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.

Hotel Arrival

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…

About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. Since then, he's logged thousands of miles, ridden across the US, and on July 10, 2019, he began a 120 day trip through Europe, and then on to Russia, China, and parts East. This 'Blog is the story of all of his adventures.


  1. Cliff,
    Thank you for being such a good ambassador for America and countering the stereotype of the ugly American. I have found that people all over the world, but especially in China, are wonderful, regardless of the position of their and our government. I hope you are feeling better by now.

    1. Hi Judy,
      I’m trying to be a good ambassador, as you say. Although, with an open mind, it seems that all of this kindness seems to come to me, and I don’t do anything to attract it, except treat people with dignity, and be open to who they are, and what they offer.

  2. Hi Cliff – ditto on the great ambassador status!

    The translation briefly helped – and it closed with the local interview guy saying he was part of a wedding party, and he enjoyed catching the “light in your eyes”. Hence your good time!

    1. Larry, you’re amazing. I’ve been playing with the close captioning for several hours, trying to get it right, and I’m seeing, at best, about 10% accuracy. On my next trip, I’m going to hire you as a technical consultant.

  3. Really enjoying your trip! I especially like the stories of the everyday encounters. Thanks so much for taking the time to post each day, along with the photos. My hat’s off to you! That’s a lot of work and we are the beneficiaries.
    Safe travels!

    1. Hi Karen, it’s so nice to hear from you. I spend a lot of time making these posts, especially rendering all of the videos, but I really enjoy it, and I know that it will be really important to me, in later years, to be able to look back, and see how it all went, day by day. I’m glad that you’re enjoying it all.

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