Day 39 – Lost in Almaty and snapped suspension

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After getting up early and heading towards Almaty we stopped at a ‘service station’ for a kebab and to change money to the local currency.

We hit Almaty at around 11 o’clock. The aussies wanted to meet a team they had met earlier so we headed into the city to find wifi so we could find them. Eventually the aussies decided on a shopping center and drove into the multistory. Disaster. We were too tall for the multi story with all our stuff in the roofrack. We tried to shout them but they headed into the car park leaving us stranded in Almaty. We tried to chase on foot but were sent away by security. We were not lost in Almaty with no map. Great.

We took out the GPS, which doesn’t have maps, its just an old walking one that acts as a compass and keeps basic information of your trip as well as giving you longitude and latitude. Armed with a compass and a badly scaled map in English we tried to head out of Almaty.

We eventually left the city at 5 o’clock. We were headed for Taldykorgan. Not so simple when your map is in English and all the signs are in Kazakh which seems to use a Cyrillic script. Not only that but showing the map to locals did no good as they could not read it. Eventually we found the main road by going off the main road, over 2 tiny roundabouts under the main road and right. We only found this because I by chance saw the only sign for the place in the whole city and even though it was in Cyrillic it began with the same letter and had a similar number of letters.

About 20 minutes after leaving the city we were pulled over by Kazakh police. Apparently for not having our lights on. We played dumb and I handed over my international drivers license as my documentation since its worth a fiver. After me and Bob played dumb for 10 minutes the police phoned someone who spoke English who then explained we had been speeding and had to pay the government. Bullshit, the retarded looking mouth breather of a policeman had been doing the old dollar dollar and pointing to his pocket for the last 10 minutes. Eventually we got bored and Bob told them he was ringing the British Embassy, suddenly we had committed no crime, my documents were handed back and we were free to go. Gotta love corruption.

We had essentially lost a day in Almaty so we decided to drive through the night. We rocketed through the Kazakh roads, which are essentially a sequence of craters between towns when at 2 in the morning disaster struck. We heard a ping. The front left suspension spring had snapped. Bob managed to get it back into place and it was then tied into place with paracord. By this time it was almost 4 in the morning. At this point we were about 90km away from the nearest big town. We decided to get our heads down for a few hours sleep so setup the tent in a grove of trees and slept a bit.