It was 9:30pm at night and I found myself in a town with no where to sleep.
I had been driven to come here but I could not work out why.
An hour earlier I had found a camping spot, admittedly it was next to a cemetery, but I’ve always thought ‘you’re not a real bikepacker until you’ve slept in a cemetery!. 😆 Whilst a tombstone would not be my pillow, being able to see them, and choosing to sleep without my tent in the open, I thought would still be a challenge.
But then I just had a feeling I had to leave.
Looking at the map I was riding into a big town so camping spots were very limited. It was already dark and I was having to ride in the rocks and gravel on the side of the road so I wouldn’t get run over. 45mins of riding and there wasn’t a single spot I could pitch my tent. I found a park on the map and headed there but it was a very popular park in a gated complex – no way I could I pitch my tent there.
I found one hotel on the map that had one room left well in access of what I wanted to spend.
Then I found a couch surfing host at nearly 10pm and asked if I could please stay, but there weren’t home.
I considered biking 10km out of town and hoping I could camp on the side of the road somewhere. Well that seemed like my only option. I couldn’t believe I’d left the camp spot by the cemetery over an hour ago for this. I would’ve been asleep by now.
My internet on my phone then stopped working and I was standing next to my bike thinking ‘well this sure is interesting.’ I wasn’t panicked or frustrated but more thinking ‘I wonder how this will all turn out.’
I saw a Man in a car who had just dropped some people off at the park – pretty much everyone here is a Taxi if they choose to be, you just stand out on the side of the road and drivers will stop and give you a lift if they’re going that way. It’s quite a cool system.
So this Man is trying to get my attention. He doesn’t speak any English and I’m not sure what he wants. I try to tell him I’m ok but he won’t have it.
He then hands me his phone and a woman speaks English to me. We have an awkward wee dance as we work out what each other wants and then I mumble something about looking for a cheap hotel.
I hand the phone back to the man and he says “chai” (tea) and sign languages for me to follow him.
I think ‘what the heck’ and cycle behind him as fast as I can. A few minutes into it, I get that voice of fear (not danger) playing all sorts of scenarios over in my mind about where he could be taking me.
I ignore it.
I feel good about this guy.
at his home and a Kazakh Woman (the one I spoke to) is there with a 3yr old and 7 yr old twins.
I drink bowls of tea with them and we all eat (at 10:30pm at night.)
They are gorgeously lovely and the twins give me pictures, the Woman gives me a beautiful traditional Kazakh scarf, a SIM card with 150G on it and the guy gives me money – yes HE gives ME money!
I try and decline but I’m told it’s what they do as they want me to have good memories of them.
Their hospitality is incredible!
They invite me to stay the night and tell me they leave early in the morning for work but I can stay as long as I want to. I get up leisurely and their Nanny has prepared breakfast for me
I can’t get how amazing these people are to have welcomed me into their home with no notice and given so much of themselves.
This is just another example of the gorgeous hospitality of the Kazakh people.
One of the biggest reason why I love to travel is to connect with people. Kazakhstan has made this so so soooo easy.
I am blessed to be surrounded by such good and kind people.