DAY 72 During my first 2 days in Almaty I was less than impressed, countless concrete tenement buildings stood hidden, bent and misshaped behind a City of trees. The ‘Triffids’ had gone as far as they could and stopped, intermingled and morphed into every structure. Abandoned playgrounds lay dormant between them. Rusted rigid sea saws, […]
During my first 2 days in Almaty I was less than impressed, countless concrete tenement buildings stood hidden, bent and misshaped behind a City of trees. The 'Triffids' had gone as far as they could and stopped, intermingled and morphed into every structure. Abandoned playgrounds lay dormant between them. Rusted rigid sea saws, swings that didn't swing... the kids weren't their. Gaggles of hardened women, draped in flamboyant wraps, swinging keys and gassing against the railings had replaced them. Gnarly faces congregated on street corners...my digs were God Awful. Chernobyl had been given the all clear after decades and a City load of folk had moved in overnight. These were my first impressions... it wasn't until the Monday when I high tailed it out of there that I realised I was drinking in the dregs of the City.
The area still had its charms... charms the rest of Almaty, sitting at the foot of those glorious snow capped mountains amplified. Torrents of fresh mountain water cascaded down 100's of mini canals on each and every street... cooling the air,the folk, the feet. The spray fed the wild sprawling tree's canopy, looming everywhere, offering sweet shade from the scorching sun, wreaking havoc with the electricity cables... no one seemed to care. Busy yet relaxed, every car was a cabbie, every curb was a hailing point and on every stationed glance stood a by-gone slice of architecture to enjoy, framed by those snow capped mountains. Almaty is clean, old, rustic,well trodden and bustling. A park was never too far away to go and have a sit, they harp back to our Parks of 20 years ago...rolled out smooth, tarmac walkways, crooked, cracked and heaving...where the weeds staked their claim yet the roses took pride of place, always being lovingly maintained. The old folk sat and yarned beside them as the young courting couples canoodled just out of sight under the tree's. Almaty truly is a lovely City...the pubs were nice, the beer was nice and by 'God on a Bike' the Women. I couldn't think of a nicer place to be stuck for 9 days.
I arrived at the Russian Embassy on cue at 5... my feisty, pretty Russian was waiting for me...
" You leave for Russia on Friday no!"
"Yes I do"
"You come on Thursday for passport then"
I anticipated this from her...
" I have a bus leaving for Astana at 7 this evening"... I didn't
"OK Mr Grady, you have fun"
my passport was waiting for me, fully Visa'd up right next to her.
So it is 6pm on Monday the 31 July, i have 4 full days to Hitchhike 3000km...114 hours to be exact. Their is no wriggle room with the Russian Visa. I have to go into Russia on the 4th of August and leave on the 7th. If not for my pretty Russian Consulate i would of had 8 days to do it in. Rather than waste money on digs I jumped on a night bus to Shymkent to give me a cheeky head start.