We made it to Emba, which was quite a big and very industrial town with a long winding road leading into it around factories and train tracks. Walking in trying to find some sort of shop it was clear that there was a celebration going on, with music being playing over the mosque loudspeakers and a lot of brightly dressed (and quite drunk) people walking around. We quickly shopped at what felt like a bus station and left, struggling in the immense heat. We found a cafe back out on the main road with a huge, empty dining area and separate room for staff. The staff were pleasant but sat in the other room for 90% of the time, and so we hid out of the heat for the rest of the day, charging our electronics and doing some media editing to excuse our not making distance.
We camped just down the road, and the next day agreed to take the day off and rest in the cafe again, as Kieran wasn’t feeling too great and we knew it was to be another long stretch without civilisation. As we were going over footage, a group of Russians came in and promptly sat with us at our table, pulled out salo, vodka and shot glasses, and began pouring rounds for us all. We talked and drank for a good couple of hours, and then as it began getting dusky they invited us to take a lift with them to go fishing and indulge in more drinking. We had to decline, and so they left us with the rest of the vodka and some large cutoffs of salo before wishing us luck and saying goodbye, we’ve met soo many nice Russians!
We got back to walking, saw a couple of scorpions one morning, came across a random small mountain range in literally the middle of nowhere which we spent a couple of days crossing (but had some nice camping and got overcharged 500 tenge for a small meal in a tiny mountain cafe), watched tornadoes rip across the steppe on the other side with the occasional one even hitting us, and had some overcast days which helped with distance immeasurably.