ALMATY and a trip to the mountain lake
25/06/2010, 06:37
Filed under: Kazakhstan

So on the wkend , we decided to have a break from all the visa applying stuff and headed to the mountains for a few days. after a 2 hour climb, two girls in the car behind us said they couldnt bear seeing us struggling up the hill,,, so they gave us a ride! we then approached the famous pipeline, here is the point where you either follow the pipe for 4km on foot or  take the 15km dirt road. the mountain guard guy in his 4by 4 said it was too dangerous to go up on this dirt track as there is risk of snow melting and blocking the route. it was around 9pm ish getting dark, so the girls let us off. we attempted the pipeline, a steep climb using the metal stair case. with the bikes , a bit hard hey, for 4kms. we got lucky again and bumbed into a couple coming down the pipeline, they said that it was impossible to go up this way on bikes.. too hard. we asked for a lift, and they said ok. wow. we told them that apparently it was dangerous to take this road up and they said ”nah its fine.”    ”ok superr”” said nous.     being cyclists we usually hate 4by 4’s but that night we loved them, after a 30min bumby ride we got to the lake.  cold, 14 deg and full moon. amazing. 2500m up

in the morning we searched for a water source, there is stream coming from melting snow ,and also a little one coming from the rocks, we drank from the rocks.  it was more refreshing then any other water we have had so far. spent that day touching snow and meditating on the rocks, and just hanging out.

we woke up at 5am on the following monday morning, it was time to go to work. babylon calling. we had to be at the mongolian embassy at 10am to pick up our visas. YES! we got them and them straight away headed to russian Emb to apply for a transit visa, we shall hopefully get that on friday.  so yeah, next step is mongolia, our original plan was to head to china and then perhaps buy a horse and trek in mongolia for a bit. but here in kazakastan, they like to make it hard for the frenchie to get a chinise visa. we tried our best, a week struggle. and at our 2nd visit to the embassy we got refused on the door!!, not even allowed to enter the Embassy.using cameras; the officials inside saw us queuing outside,  and told the security to get rid off us. “”ok … super”” said nous

we went to the big market yesterday looking for fat tyres, as we hav heard that in mongolia there is no asphalt rds, only near the capital which is 1700kms away. the route is just rocks stones dirt etc. we foundsome for 600 teñge, bout 3/4euros. but not big enough. the mrket is huge 5km wide, mostly under roofs.. a bit like the kaparlar bazaar in istanbul. we wandered all day inside and coulnt find suitable tyres. we will head there again today and get grab the 600 tenge tyres as we have been to all the bikeshops and they dont have thick tyres for 700 wheels. a tip for cyclists, if heading to asia go with 26inch wheels as easier to find tyres.

we have met many nice people in kazastan, only a few of them know about our friend Borat. the few that know him, want to kill him. they say that he is placing a poor image of kazakstan to the world. infact , most of the footage borat uses is shot in romania, we remember some romainians telling us. the russians loved borat.

here in kazakhstan the language is kazak,russian, tatar and others,we have met many youngsters that can speak turkish. turkish products are very expensive here, ten times the cost then that in turkey. most people are muslim but not many mosques around. they sell icecream on the streets for 35cents and samsa for the same price at the bus stop. they drive like mad here, very scary for cyclists as the cars are not used to seeing bikes on the rd, . bus costs the same price as icecream and taxi is 5 icecreams. Kazakhstan has three major oil refineries supplying the northern region, at Pavlodar, the western region, at Atyrau, and the southern region, at Shymkent. it is also a landlock country making it costly to export, it also produces a lot of grain. almaty is actually quite expensive , food at supermarkets can be more pricy than uk for example and the empty hotels cost bout 100dollars a nite. kazakstan is huge, like one big dessert, thats why they did the atomic bomb testing here.

on sunday we head out towards semey with a bunch of german hippies . they are traveling with trucks, they filled up petrol in iran for 2cents a litre. they too have been travelling for 10 months and are heading our way. i think they  were very happy about the trashing they gave england the other nite, 4-1 hey, what happened mate!!

Almaty. C’est grand, y a plein de voitures, et c’est pas mal pollue… bref c est une grande ville comme tant d autres…

alors on a decide d’aller a la montagne prendre un bol d’air! premiere ascension avec Jang -chez qui on reste, realisateur coreen- et Carsten -notre pote allemand qu’on a rencontre a Kiev, et avec qui on va maintenant faire la route!!!

Deuxieme ascension a velo, plus aventureuse.. on part tard dans l’apres midi, et apres 2h de montee il est deja 19h30. Deux filles en voiture s’arretent pres de nous et insistent pour nous emmener plus haut. Elles nous laissent a un endroit ou on a deux choix : soit on monte 4km d’escaliers longeant le tuyeau qui mene au lac, soit on prend la piste pleine de cailloux de 15km qui peut etre dangereuse car risque d’eboulements… On tente a peine les escaliers, un couple arrive et nous dit que ca va etre vraiment trop difficile. Alors ils nous emmenent en 4×4 tout en haut jusqu au lac a 2500m d’altitude! nice! il fait deja nuit et on assiste au lever de la lune derriere les montagnes. c’est beau! on reste deux nuits, a se detendre car les histoires de visa nous ont bien stresses.

On a donc pas reussi a obtenir le visa chinois. Premiere tentative, le mec du consulat nous dit de nous adresser a une agence de visa. Justement le mec de l’agence est la. L’agence essait pour nous une deuxieme fois. Echec. Aucune explication donnee. Donc apres quelques discutions tres interressantes traduites en russe et chinois puis anglais et plusieurs coup de fil en Chine, on se retrouve avec des nouveaux papiers et on retourne au consulat. Cette fois on a meme pas pu rentrer! Ils nous ont vus dehors avec leur camera et ont demande au policier a la porte de nous faire partir! Toujours aucune explication, mais nous on sait. Les visas chinois sont tres difficile a obtenir pour les francais, des histoires diplomatiques..

Donc maintenant c’est direction….la Mongolie!!! via la russie, encore! Nos velos sont pas vraiment prepares pour la Mongolie et ses routes non-goudronnees alors on effectue quelques petits changement a commencer par nos pneus qui sont trop fins.

On a deja nos visas pour la Mongolie et on devrait avoir nos visas de transit russes vendredi. On part normalement dimanche avec des allemands qu’on a rencontres par hasard dans la rue. Ils sont en camions et nous prennent pour quelques jours, ca va nous avancer un peu. On se dirige vers le nord du Kazakhstan, et ca fait un paquet de km.

Dans les steppes vous vous en doutez, y a pas internet! alors rdv a UlaanBaatar capitale de la Mongolie dans environ 1 mois!

ciao ciao

we meet two french brothers cycling from france at the station. they got screwed over . couldnt renew their visa nor enough time to apply for a new one so they had to catch a plane to thailand in the end.

our super host jang from south korea, a famous movie maker. so we are watching many movies here as well as the footie

the germans and their trucks


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hello Mélie!! Je viens de passer un bon moment à lire vos aventures… c’est une très belle histoire que vous vous fabriquez, et dont je suis très admirative. Je suis de tout coeur avec vous, Stéphane aussi, pour les suites de votre parcours et pour votre conquête de l’Est! Je vous embrasse bien fort et je suis impatiente de lire votre arrivée à Ullaan Batar. Manon.

Comment by manon

Coucou les globebikers !
Ca faisait longtemps que je n’avais pas lu vos aventures et je suis très heureuse de vous savoir toujours en découverte… Et j’admire toujours plus votre expérience. Ca fait plusieurs mois maintenant que je ne vous ai pas vu, vous me manquez, mais je sais que vous vivez des moments uniques 🙂
J’ai quand même hate de vous retrouver, en attendant Murat et Amélie, je pense bien fort à vous et vous suis de près à travers votre blog 😀
Prenez bien soin de vous et je vous souhaite encore beaucoup de belles surprises sur votre route!

Comment by Malika

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