Day 57 Semey



Day 57 Semey, originally uploaded by Big Al!.

Morning is rough after too much vodka. We surface at lunch time and are served breakfast of omelette and coffee by the lovely Julia. We enquire by laptop translator about staying another night, being too hungover to ride bikes to Russia today. We are invited to go out for the afternoon with Igor and Julia. First, Igor does wheelies up the street wearing only shorts. It’s cool in a crazy Kazakh way. He offers me a go, but it’s a fantastically expensive machine so I decline. Then we find ourselves crammed into a 4×4, hurtling out into the countryside down dirt roads through fields and forests,until we arrive at a riverside spot for a picnic. This is not normal behaviour for a hotel owner towards his guests, but is somehow "standard for the stans". The picnic will require a fire to roast some chicken, so naturally a chainsaw is produced to cut some trees, and a blowtorch to light the fire. Then a large bag is opened and instead of the folding chairs i expected, out comes an inflatable boat complete with outboard motor. Cue an afternoon surrounded by russian chatter and laughter, beer glass constantly refilled, our host thrusting food into our hands at regular intervals, and messing about on the river. Surreal.