We woke up separately on our first morning in Kazakhstan, rolling over and moaning about having to get up and make distance, and then realising that actually, we didn’t! And rolling back over to sleep. It was sunny, had began to warm up, and around midday we awoke properly and remembered it was Borderwalks first birthday, one year to the day we had set off from Cardiff, Wales, and we felt it was deserving of a holiday. We chilled out, filmed some cows, got quickly bored, charged the solar panels, went back to the border to pick up small snacks and change our money off of people walking around the place.
Walking to the first town on the map, the weather had drastically improved literally from the moment we crossed the border, quite weird, the only thing familiar is the wind. There was some traffic, most of which we recognise after a couple of days, and a large number of which stop to take photos and attempt conversation. Also, wild camels and horses.
Getting to the first town was a disappointment, one shop and a rudely staffed, overpriced hotel with no amenities. We could see what looked like another village ahead so decided to try our luck there. Our spare wheel snapped a load of spokes on the way, and not a single building we asked in was a hotel or even knew where there was one. People we asked were friendly and nice, with a few approaching us offering help (we kind of stand out here, being the only non-Asians and all), and a small school girl literally followed us through the entire place, stopping to take photos/videos whenever we paused for a moment. As we were getting near the edge of town we were close to giving up, but a couple then pointed us to a house literally right in front of us, and going to have a look, a very friendly guy stood outside confirmed it was a hotel. The room had no wifi, running water or toilet, but then, neither did the entire building. The place was reasonably priced and comfy though, so we waved goodbye to the little stalker girl and checked in, taking a day off to adjust clothing for the heat and look at getting rid of more stuff. Periodically through the day we would hear prayers being played from speakers outside the Mosque, we chatted with the hotel guy and a couple of his friends a bit, and were famous in the shop over the road. Overall a very different, but pleasant time.
Leaving the town we stopped in a cafe at the edge, where two tables of guys were interested and chatty with us whilst we sat down, only later to get up and get into a fight with each other. Was a little awkward just sitting with our meal trying not to get involved, but it was between them and so we were fine. We ended up camping in sand dunes (the only non-flat thing in sight other than buildings), where we watched what appeared to be a rabid cow walk through our camp, and a lizard chilling out, just watching us back.
We knew there wasn’t another place for a while, and we were stocked up on supplies, but even so walking for the next few days we found ourselves running out of water. Luckily some of the trucks that stop are more than willing to give us some, but it is a niggling feeling that we’re not self-reliant on such an important resource. To make matters worse, shops are such a distance away that we are eating a lot of moldy bread, which is disgusting.