July 30, 2017

Back to Kazakhstan day 6: the long drive back to Kyzylorda

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After a long day at the North Aral Sea yesterday (the roundtrip took 8 hours), it was time to head back to "civilization" in Kyzylorda.  Thankfully I wasn't taking another train ride today, but had arranged for Serik to drive me the whole distance of 470 km (double that if you include his drive back).  Today I would be riding in comfort in a Mercedes C-Class - not that the Nissan 4WD yesterday wasn't comfortable.

Gulmira made sure I was well fed this morning, cooking me some pan-fried eggs with tomatoes.  I took it with bread and tea.

We set off after breakfast, and the road we were driving on was brand new and smooth. Apparently this is part of the new highway connecting Kazakhstan to Europe (E38), and it was only completed a couple of years ago.  Besides being brand new, the signs along the way now also display names in Roman alphabet in addition to Russian Cyrillic.

My first and main stop today was Lake Kamyslybas (Қамыстыбас), where people from the surrounding area come and enjoy swimming.  It was around 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning, and people were already in the water and enjoying themselves.

The water was crystal clear, and I took out my drone to do a couple of passes over the water.

We get back on the road as there was a long drive ahead.  After a couple of hours I am once again at Baikonur, this time just passing through on the highway.   I couldn't help notice the amount of power lines that are running from the power plant in town to the Cosmodrome.

A little further down the road we make a stop at the Korkyt Ata Memorial Complex. The renovated memorial is dedicated to the Turkic poet and composer.

The most unique aspect of this memorial are the pipes at the top of the kobyz-shaped structure.  When the winds blow, the air comes down the pipes and one hears music from the wind.

From there it's another couple of hours, and I found myself back in Kyzylorda.  Serik dropped me off at the Nomad Palace Hotel, and I bid him farewell and wished him a safe journey back.

Dinner time rolled around, and I walk out to the Terrace Nomad for some food.  The dishes here aren't too different from what's on offer in the lounge, but this is a more casual setting - like a sports bar.

Salad "Royal" (Салат "Королевский") - strips of beef tongue, smoked horse meat, marinated mushrooms, pickled cucumber... drenched in mayo and sprinkled with spices.  Pretty good, actually... but seriously huge salad.

"Royal" ukha (Уха "Царская") - a Russian fish soup with "fresh frozen salmon" (whatever the fuck that is...), sea bass, dorado, onion, bell peppers... etc.   This was OK.

I retired to my room and drank the bottle of Baltika (Балтика) No. 9 I bought earlier in the afternoon.  Although every single Russian I met on this trip would prefer foreign beer to Baltika, I just had to relive some of the memories from 2008...

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