/ / : Day off in Saryozek
Much of our day off in Saryozek was spent sleeping. Our day off coincided with a public gathering and celebration that we found out was a Victory Day celebration, the Russians’ commemoration of the end of WW . Displays of military prowess and a number of dance and gymnastic displays took place in a central square. The waltz number was very “European”, despite us still being miles from Europe.
/ / : Kapchagay km
Travelling on, we rode across grasslands that were coming alive with flowers. We met a French couple, Philippe and Colette, heading the other way, and stopped to talk for well over an hour. We were the first bike travellers they’d met in their km trip, so they were happy to chat. They had a year, and were headed to Mongolia. A bit younger than us, they had two new grandchildren at home. We’ve met a couple of other cyclists since entering Kazakhstan: Naoya, a young Japanese lad we met at the border, and pedalled with for the first part of the day leaving Zharkent, and later Igor, a Californian of Russian Azerbaijanian descent who recommended a bike shop here in Almaty.
/ / : Almaty km (odometer passes km)
After feeling rather lost for a while in Almaty, we asked a fellow on a mountain bike for directions. This was Jenya, who thought carefully about our needs and led us through parks and across town to try two different hotels, and who translated for us and was incredibly helpful. On loaded touring bikes, following him on his dual suspension bike was a little tricky, but we learned it’s OK to ride on the sidewalk here. He must have taken more than an hour out of his day for us. Thank you, Jenya!
We are now settled in an excellent and reasonably priced Soviet-era establishment. But we learned “vilasipyet nyet” means we cannot bring our bikes into the room. Now for a few days of chasing Uzbek visas and bike shops, and of sampling a cosmopolitan selection of foods.