Distance: 0 miles
Time on bikes: 0 hours
After a restful night of sleep we only get up just in time for Alex arriving at 10 am – he’s going to help us deal with the immigration office and show us a few places around town for us to see.
We hop in his Lada and drive to the Police station, but unfortunately it’s not open until Monday so we’ll have to try registering in another town. We decide to stay another night but the room we had last night has been booked as a bridal suite. Alex drives us to a couple of other hotels, but unfortunately all are booked because of weddings this weekend.
We eventually find a hotel, but can’t believe the price – £6 for the night. We’re shown the room and soon realise why. It’s probably about 50 years old and everything looks original; including the pillows and mattresses. Still, it’s a bed and at the time we thought why not?
We check on the bikes and move the bike kit to the other hotel. We then just spend the day sitting on the main pedestrian boulevard watching life go by, relaxing, sleeping and catching up on the diary. We intended to try and get some bits to fix Bene’s bike, but didn’t quite get around to it. One spectacle we see quite a few times is a procession of cars heading for the registry office for a wedding. The cars are all adorned with balloons and drive around town tooting their horns as they go along. The first was great, but after we’d seen about four, the novelty began to wear off. We think the tooting of horns may be to signal to the registrar to get on with the current ceremony, as they’re only around the corner.
One thing we did try, was to sort a SIM card for calling the UK. Carl’s Natwest card isn’t working, but thankfully the credit card still can get cash. Bene has no problem with her Barclay card, even though they’re all VISA. The mobiles aren’t working on the Kazakh network so a local SIM should mean we can get in touch with the UK.
The process of getting a SIM goes quite straightforward and when we motion to a man in a shop that we’d like to buy a SIM he quickly opens one up and takes our mobile apart to install it. He then calls his own number to confirm it works. Great, but it only has about £1 of credit on, so how do we top it up? Another bit of gesturing with our hands and he walks us around the corner to where there’s a branch of ‘Beeline’ which is the network for the SIM we’ve bought. Soon we have £10 of credit added, but can’t use the phone to call the UK. We think we’ve been duped, but the girl behind the counter says there should be no reason we can’t get through to the UK.
We’re meeting Alex at 8 pm to go out and treat him for dinner as thanks for his help the night before, but unfortunately he can’t make it so we go out by ourselves in the hunt for a nice little restaurant to celebrate Bene’s birthday. He does however help us get the phone to connect to the UK which we were very pleased about.
We walk around town, but all the cafes we’d seen during the day now appear to be closed. We try a couple of restaurants but they’re either closed or fully booked for wedding parties. Oh dear. We keep things positive and go into the supermarket to buy a picnic to enjoy outside on one of the benches along the boulevard. We sit and nibble away as the sun sets over the fountain and mosque in front of where we’re sitting. It didn’t turn out too bad in the end.
When we get back to the hotel it hits us how bad the room really is. After unravelling the ancient sheets to make the beds, Carl decides to just sleep on top of the bed, wearing his bike trouser liners and lying on top of his jacket as a pillow. This turns out to be quite a comfortable option and we both get a good nights sleep. Still, it was only £6, so what could we expect?