Sunday, 28 October 2018

A postcard from Kazakhstan

So....Kazakstan. A big empty place. I believe the original inhabitants were nomads, travelling and living in Yurts. Then, fairly recently, oil was discovered in the Caspian sea. Now the country is coming into the 21st century..but slowly. As I found on my train journey down to Tengiz, the oil camp on the south-east shores of the Caspian sea, there's a whole lot of empty space.

View from a train - unchanging for 4 hours!

 When I got to the camp, there's also a lot of nothing, a desert with pipelines and refinery plonked in the middle of it.

Pipes sand and flowers!

Home sweet home ?
 The accommodation is pretty basic, but then we work 12 hour days, 7 days a week so there's not exactly a lot of free time.
Luxurious - no!!

 Any free time I got I spent playing with the local wildlife!

After a month in the camp I swore I wouldn't go back, but after a 4 week break I got asked to go back but stay in Atyrau, a city on the north bank of the sea. A lot more decent than the camp, I'm staying in a proper hotel this time and doing normal office work, so I can handle that for 4 weeks.

Renaissance hotel with mosque behind
 I actually get Sundays off, so make a point of getting some exercise by walking along the river bank. That's the Ural river, which (allegedly) marks the change from Europe to Asia - I have to say it all looks pretty much the same! There are the new prestige buildings built by the oil companies sitting alongside new 5 star hotels, just along from some pretty basic dwellings for the locals.

Europe on left bank, Asia to the right.

 As you can see, I've been lucky with the weather, its drifting through autumn now so the temperature is reasonable. They actually get extreme weather here, ranging from 35 degC (95F) in summer, to minus 35 degC (minus 31F) in winter, when this river freezes over two feet thick ice and the locals drive their cars along it!!
 My experience here has been reasonable, helped by living in comfort this time. I'm pretty sure the locals would be happy if we foreigners weren't here, but then that's the same in every oil town I've worked in - Aberdeen in Scotland being the worst!!!
Europe, allegedly

proud to be an oil town
 So only another 10 days and I'll be home to London. Then its a quick trip up to Hanover, Germany for a weeks' treatment, then home to start packing and organising my next trip. I've decided to blow half the money I've earned here on a nice long adventure to central America - the other half of the money is reserved for that new bike I promised myself! Happy days!

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Ooh all excited! New Triumph Scrabler 1200 announced

Unfortunately I couldn't go to the preview at London's Excel centre as I've succumbed to greed and come back out to Kazakstan for another month - but this time I am definitely going to get a new bike when I get home, and I think this is it! Pictures off the internet today.