On the road to Taraz

After three days in Almaty, we finally got the rental car we wanted to travel through Kazakhstan: a Chevrolet Niva (4X4). As we were pretty late (we finished the paperworks for the car at like 11.00 am whereas we wanted to leave around 9.00 am!), we left the big city in a hurry, to end up… in a car market. Busy, dirty place where I felt pretty unsafe… You can buy there any piece of car you want, and according to Samir, even build a car from scratch!! So, at the end, both of us thought it was pretty interesting. We actually “visited” this place in order to find a spare tank to put gas, just in case we couldn’t find a gas station while driving long distances… We finally found the damn thing and bought for 5 times the normal price (but we kind of didn’t have the choice anyway!)… We then left the place to find the road to Taraz, thanks to a guy who asked us to follow him when we asked our way.

The trip to Taraz was pretty amazing. With the mountains on one side, and the steppes on the other, we drove more than 600 kilometers. We saw a lot of mosques and Muslim cemeteries on the way. Like this mosque, in the middle of nowhere:



Landscapes looked like this:



On the road, we saw some pretty weird or funny scenes. A motorcycle driver was driving without a helmet, and finally got chased by the cops who couldn’t follow because of the lack of power of their car. We saw a truck on fire left on the side of the road...


A lot of animals usually prefer staying on the road than on the surrounding areas: horses, cows, goats, … And the shepherds just stand there and let them do what they want!  Those were like an exception, since they weren’t on the road: 



We got arrested by the cops as well, which, by the way, if you ever drive in Kazakhstan, are everywhere and pretty stubborn! We were speeding up… So one of them decided to keep our documents until we would decide to pay about 100 euros or something. They gave up after understanding that we were more stubborn than them. We just repeated during half an hour that we didn’t speak or understand Russian and they let us go! That was worst trying that instead of paying right away! But how could we not speed up when it was limited to 50 km/h on a long, flat road!!!??? They have weird speed limit and signs everywhere, and also sometimes the speed limit changes but they don’t think it’s worth putting a sign to indicate it but the cops arrest you anyway! Speaking of driving, the guy who rented us the car explained us than after the Soviet Union, some people got to buy their driver’s license to the police officers (for 100 to 500 euros!) and they don’t know the rules, which explains a lot! Apparently that keeps on happening even today!

Later on, stopping at a gas station, we noticed another problem which further delayed us… Guess what: it was a flat tire. We knew when we checked the car that the tire looked bad, but I guess we weren’t expecting to have this kind of problem so fast! Here is how it looked (thank you Samir, now I know how to do it):


Here is the little boy who worked at the gas station and serve customers while his father takes care of the money:



And yes, we had some trouble that day, but, oh well, we kept smiling!!!



We finally arrived to Taraz at night, around 10.00 pm. Andrey, our guest from Couchsurfing (a community of travelers and people who want to host them), met us downtown and we went to his apartment. We met his lovely mum, who had cooked a delicious dinner for us. Their origin is Russian, so we tasted something different from Almaty! They are very well-educated (Irina is a teacher of Russian and literature) and I was surprised to realize how much they knew about French culture! Pretty amazing!

A nice shower and a long sleep later, we were ready to go to visit this city! 

car cops Almaty Taraz Kazakhstan

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