Crossing the Kazakh Steppe

We’re back in Kazakhstan, crossing from South to North, right through the middle of it where the map shows a huge lake. Little we knew that there would be nothing to see for hours and hours. In the end we even paid money for a bus (a rolling circus rather) as the cold steppe winds were blowing in our faces and we really wanted to make it to Karaganda.

We saw this bus three times today, passing it in our Mercedes truck. Our driver commented how much it’s shaking from right to left, heavily overloaded and we’re having a good laugh. Now a few hours later we’re on it, squeezed in between the always declined chair of my front neighbour and 200 boxes of various cargo behind. It’s late and dark, but sleep is impossible. I read about the region in Lonely Planet. Apparently a brave Australian got on a horse a few years ago and rode 4 years from Mongolia to Hungary following the Mongols on their conquests. Hitch-hiking we unfortunately didn’t meet nomad tribes but saw a few camels (a first!) and horses along the endless road. The lake doesn’t compare to Issyk-kul at all and the only settlements seem to be military related. That and police posts every 20km. These posts aim to prevent drug (opium/heroin) trafficking from Afghanistan to Russia/ Europe, but in reality are annoyances were drivers hand over money and in return get less hassle. A great job income in an area like this where there is little else to do.

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