After exploring the western province of Mangistau in August, we now crossed the border into Eastern Kazachstan. The old Kazach capital Almaty was well worth a quick visit; we marvelled at a richly decorated orthodox church and wandered around the huge Green Bazar, browsing all the different meet counters and cheese stalls. We even found something very much resembling old Dutch cheese!
We continued to the Charyn Canyon in the southeast of Kazachstan. We didn’t have very high expectations but it was a little paradise! The Charyn river once found its way on the plain steppes and carved out this pretty canyon. After a steep slope and manouvering under a bridge of rocks, we found a riverside BBQ space; perfect.
Once more discovering how huge Kazachstan actually is, we spent a few days in the car heading north. We felt a bit sad because we knew we would have to give the Altai mountains a miss due to lack of time. The sunshine soon made way for rain and icy cold wind. The changing weather provided some excellent photogenic scenery. Eventually, we reached the city of Semey. This place has a bit of a dubious past; it used to be a nuclear testing playground in the old Soviet days. The hot bath (yes!) water in the hotel (luxury!) looked pretty clear though.
In the meantime...
We had to sacrifice one shock absorber on the appalingly bad roads of Kazachstan. The part of the car frame where the left back absorber had been attached, broke off. Fingers crossed for better roads in Russia...