We love Kazakhstan!

June 29: We are now slightly more than half way between Beijing and Paris and have a day off in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan only since 1997. Almaty was the capital before that. According to our guide, Alexander, the president made this decision based on natural threats-Almaty has twice been destroyed by earthquakes and once by flooding-and man-made threats since Almaty is very close to the border with China. Anyway, like Almaty, this is a beautiful, clean, modern city. We walked through the city center yesterday afternoon.

I have been surprised at how much English is spoken here. I had assumed a second language would be Russian since they were part of the Soviet Union for so long. Those we speak to ask us if we like the city and like Kazakhstan. They are proud of their country’s progress and are curious if we see it the same way. I am happy to say we do. I don’t know what I expected, but this county is certainly a place to watch. They have their act together.

So, today for some was a tour of the city, for us, a tour of the parking lot. Ed had to adjust valves and lubricate the car. We were in early enough to do this yesterday, but this job must be done when the engine is cold, so, it was a job for this morning. Ed borrowed Jack’s grease gun and his blue blanket to make things more comfortable.  I helped, well sort-of. I played go-for and washed the exterior and straighten up the interior. Seems car maintenance is the way all the drivers spend any day off- which brings me to Clay’s Ford.

Here’s the scoop. Last evening we learned he had the engine torn-down. He has ordered new bearings from the US and has taken the crankshaft to a local machine shop to be re-ground. He still thinks the cause of the oil spill was the dip-stick not being secured. I hope this is right. So, the question remains, when will he join us? Right now, Clay thinks 3-4 days before he can catch up. We have a border crossing before that. I have no idea how that will be handled but I am guessing that Clay will have an interpreter with him.

Tomorrow we are back on the road to Paris a run of 368 miles to the border town of Petropavlovsk. It will be an early start to be sure.  We have enjoyed our time in Kazakhstan. This county I would happily return to.


About ejhowle23

Authors and adventurers, participated in the World Race 2011, an automobile rally from New York to Paris, crossing three continents and 14,000 land miles. Following much the same route as the setting for our debut novel, The Long Road to Paris. This blog describes our own adventures and challenges. And now you can follow our Bahamas sailing adventure that provides the setting for our second novel, Night Watch. Our rally, the African Safari Challenge, crossed five countries in South Africa in May 2014 and in 2015 we participated in the second Trans-American rally this time from Nova Scotia to San Francisco. Spring of 2016 we travelled 28 days around Australia with friends from previous rallies and in the fall participated in our most exhausting rally through Argentina, Chili and Peru- the Rally of the Incas. We were awarded the Against All Odds award. We're still not sure if this was for us or our car. Stewball never broke down and we hardly did. We will soon take on Iceland as a self-drive tour and in the fall of 2017 we will participate in the Odyssey Italia and then back to Africa for a do-over (almost) of the Africa Safari Challenge.
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10 Responses to We love Kazakhstan!

  1. TBC says:

    It sounds so much nicer and cleaner than the western reaches of China that you passed through.

    You seem to have had a wonderful collection of new friends all t he way along your journey.

    So glad to hear Stewball has been spiffed up!


    TBC and Arnie

  2. Carla says:

    Surprising that they speak English well, I would have expected Russian like you guys. They must have a good educational system. All sounds great, must be a ton of impressions you get during a trip like that. And thousands of pictures. Hope Clay gets his car fixed, the cars are a constant source of worry I understand. I’m happy that Stewball is hanging in there. You can’t beat a Volkswagen! (says the owner of a 1997 Golf ;-).

    May your wheels keep rolling. Enjoy the next drive 🙂


  3. Milford Whitaker says:

    I just want to say how much I enjoy following your adventure.


  4. Jayne Pearlman says:

    Jan and Ed,

    Glad to hear news of you. The trip sounds so exciting and hard. I am not a lover of driving over 3-4 hours in a car. Vermont is about my longest journey.

    Our grandson, Tanner, is over and he is helping me do this. We played tennis this afternoon. He beat me 6-2. I am a good doubles payer but my old knees do not do singles.

    Good luck and enjoy the rest of the trip.

    Love, Jayne

  5. rdsieber says:

    A glance at the commuting cars in your photo indicates that this country has some reasonable wealth and modernity. What’s the food like? Hungry stomachs seek answers!

    Ronald Sieber

    • ejhowle23 says:

      We enjoyed the food in Kazakhstan, particuarly after all the days in China. I never want to see a lazy Susan again-or a Chinese buffet. Since we both got sick, it will be a very long time before Chinese food appeals. Yes, Kazakhstan is quite wealthy. They have rich uranimum and oil deposits and this president seems to be doing things right. It is a country to watch. Lots of English too.

  6. Lilla Howle says:

    Jan and Ed wanted me to let everyone know that they can’t access the blog from Kazakhstan at the moment, but will reply as soon as they can. Thanks for your comments. ~ Lilla Howle

  7. crhowle says:

    Love your pictures, Jan. Looks like you could be in Anycity, USA! This is a great education for me. Thanks to you both for sharing the trip with us. Love from the Darlington crowd.

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