A great meal last night with a pint of ale taken outside in balmy temperatures. .
This morning we head 17k’s across the city to find the Mongolian Embassy. The wifi we have, Beeline, easy to procure but bloody hopeless in use. Supposed to be 4G but strained through a silk stocking? Anyway, the signal is almost strong enough to keep up with us on google maps and we arrive at the embassy to find a reasonable queue in front of us so we sit down and wait. Come our turn and we present our papers. She looked sideways at us and said, “you are in the Hungarian Embassy”!!!. Of course everything is in Russian and unintelligible. The Mongolian Embassy is next door but the gate is locked. A young man comes to see what the noise is and escorts us into the embassy with the words, it will take 3-5 working days!!! Fine but what would it cost to get it straight away? US$88 each. Done. Within 20minutes after filling in a new set of application forms, we are on our way, visas in hand. Back to the hotel to pick up our bits n pieces and a visit to the supermarket and we are heading north, out of the city picking up diesel at approx US50c/L.
Almaty is a quite a large, sophisticated and modern city. The police seem to have a presence on the roads for the first time and society appears to be well founded and orderly. The city is bordered in the north by a close range of high mountains which it seems, provide excellent winter sports opportunities.
Eighty k’s out we pass a settlement that is inhabited by Casino’s only. Opulent displays of wealth but by looking at the cars parked in the carpark, my guess is most of them belong to staff. It’s obviously a precarious business as there are as many abandoned former casinos as there are active ones.
The road north is brilliant. New, three lane, concrete for the next 220k’s.
It’s warm, 39degC and at 4.30pm we are looking forward to finding some elevation and shade.
With that found and as we sit in a beautiful glade with green grass all around and a stream beside us, a dozen bulls, four horses and herder are working their way towards us. Tree’s are providing shade from the fierce sun and privacy. It’s tranquil, apart from the traffic which are whizzing past about 800m away.
An aside. From what news we can find, England had an exciting win at Edgbaston yesterday over a pretty handy Indian side. Who said test match cricket were boring! Well done the Poms..:)