contradictions and disasters
Kazakhstan got well known from a certain film, which I have personally never seen and will not mention.
Sure fact is, it's absolute nonsense and does not reflect at all the reality. Although, Kazakhstan has it's edges and corners which are easily to spot.
I left Astana direction Aralsk (alias Aral), it would be a massive detour to reach Almaty as Aral lays not far from the Caspian sea.
As always, I tried to avoid the main roads to get there and so drove the side roads, or rather said sand tracks. For a couple of days I drove to Arkalik, Amangeldi, Torgai to Nura to reach Aral.
This is pretty much in the middle of nowhere and the people there were relay eager to talk to you and get to know what exactly you are doing here.
Especial the police post in Torgai did not intent to let me drive off again, they wanted to know everything and see everything. Don't get me wrong here, these officers were absolutely correct, just very very curious and wanted to use the opportunity to get answers to their questions why foreigners travel and how.
They were probably an exception or simply not used to tourist as the Kazakh police is notorious bad.
I can't remember how many times I was stopped an accused for speeding or other silly reasons. But as I knew about that, I had bought in Sochi a Dash-Cam with an integrated GPS. So I had each and every time proof that I was not wrong, then the footage also includes the speed I was driving.
Therefore I got all the time off the hook.
Those villages I passed through showed the clear contradictions of the country.
When the people drive their Land cruiser Prado in Astana, the people their ride a horse.
When the people communicate with their fancy phones in the capital, the farmers sit together and talk as their is no mobile reception.
When the people form the big city eat in posh restaurants, the villagers sit near their stove and eat a simple meal.
The gap of rich and poor is one of the weirdest I have ever seen.
One day when I was driving through a gorgeous scenery, it looked rather like Africa than central Asia, I had to brake abruptly.
Not 10 meters in front of me jumped about 40 Saiga Gazelles over the track.
It happened to quick and I was too stunned to grab my camera. I could not believe my eyes: Gazelles?!
Little did I know that there were any Gazelles living in Kazakhstan.
You should have seen my face when I saw them, I guess it was priceless especially when I discovered that they got a kind of a trunk!
The University of Travel stroke me once more. Later I was researching the Saiga and found the sad fact that they are critically endangered. Furthermore, in May this year, researcher found the half of the Kazakh population (about 130'000) dead.
The reason why is not known or kept secret but activists claim that the space rockets launched in Baikonur are the cause, as there was one launched short before the dying.
Baikonur is the world last Cosmodrom, the last gateway to the endless space.
It is in Kazakhstan but ruled by Russia as they leased that territory, needless to say that the waste and natural destruction stays in Kazakhstan.
The chemical substance used to power the rockets devastate the surrounding nature and animals, like the Saiga Gazelle.
Later in Almaty I also found out, that short after a rocket was launched the temperature drops by 10°C in Almaty.
Not to mention that if you are interested to see the Cosmodrom, which is certainly very interesting, you need to apply for a visitor permit for a tour which costs about 700 USD a day.
I left Baikonur troubled and irritated.
When I was a small kid, I saw a documentation about the Aral sea disaster which happened in the USSR times.
This story never left my mind and that was the main reason why I was driving there.
It got straight apparent when I drove into Aralsk, the city was dusty like a town in a wild west movie.
Aral has been the centre of the fishery industry at the Aral lake but the sea disappeared from there after the construction of irrigation canals.
Hard to imagine that one of the four largest lakes in the world nearly vanished after that constructions in 1960.
It has regained of its size after a damn as built and the the fish population increases steadily too.
Although the fishing changed completely. The huge fishing vessels laying in a sandy step and out on the lake are small fishing boats for 2-3men, bringing ashore a small percentage what it used to be.
Sorry, you probably expected more travl stories.
I was just confronted with a lot of stories and struggles, talked to many people and learned how life is like in the countryside of Kazakhstan.
Stories which need to be heard.