To Atyrau, Kazakhstan Week 122 July 25th - 26th 2013
                       
The old and the new!

This part of Kazakhstan is the northern edge of the Caspian Sea.

Below sea level!

Flattish.

We suspect the lakes just become bigger and more joined up if we drove towards the sea with no really clear "edge".

 
There are mud bricks under the mud veneer.

First time we've seen rounded edges to roofs.

 
The road is a tad difficult.

About 30 km/hr.

Grooved, potholed, washed out, and simply bumpy.

 
We stopped for the night a bit west of Ganyushkino.

Welcomed by a veritable plethora of birds.

 
We stopped next to the water, had a siesta, and watched the birds.
 
Had to catch one eventually.

Lots of them, chasing insects.

We were helped by the wind. The bird was flying quite fast, just to be still.

 
The herons (?) hid in the reeds and occasionally performed a fly-by.
 
Onwards to Atyrau.

We thought it was only water buffalo that wallowed while they ate.

 
The road deteriorated (was that possible).

But improved a bit later, some sections were 60 km/hr.

Good for fuel consumption. It looks like we'll get more than 800 km from a full tank rather than the less than 650 km in Turkey.

 
There's a major railway line between Kazakhstan and Russia.

This looks like oil tankers headed towards Russia.

We thought there were pipelines out of Kazakhstan.

 
This must rate as our most nonsensical gps instruction yet.

We haven't yet found how to tell Garmin "don't go anywhere, just show us the map". Or to recognise that "near enough is good enough".

It is trying to take us to somewhere we passed near about 20 km back. 

 
We've seen many "bumpy road" signs in our travels.

The 30 km is an underestimate. So far about 200 km of bumps.

 
We are crossing the T????? oil field.

Pockets of nodding donkeys.

A more substantial looking design than we saw further north in Russia (in 2011).

Kazakhstan is "oil rich". And diesel is about 99 Tenge / litre (about A$0.68).

It will be the cheapest of our trip. 

 
That train line again.

17 coaches in a passenger train from Russia to Kazakhstan.

There's an almost continuous stream of trains in both directions.

A single line with passing places.

Cruising speed seems to be about 60 km/h but average is about our speed as the baton has to change hands.

 
The mosques here are very different to the Ottoman inspired architecture of Turkey.
 
Atyrau looks like being a bit far for us today.

We've been overdoing the km since Turkey and are decidedly a bit worn out.

We detoured into Aqqystau to look for a bankomat.

Unfortunately the bank, and its bankomats, had printed paper notices on machines and door - it looked like "closed".

The good news is that bankomats exist and have visa labels.

Atyrau is a larger town, the oil field administrative center.

 
The railway line is wooden sleepers and fish plates.

If we get close enough at the right time we'll listen to the "clickety-click" of 34 double bogies.

Level crossings introduce some variety into the road bumps and slow us down to walking pace.

 
Camels.

We are definitely not in Europe.

And the key to our digitised paper map has little camel icons on the road that indicate "silk road".

We are perhaps understandably struggling with the concept of "smooth as silk".

 
We stopped about 40 km short of Atyrau.

We thought only six hours to drive 231 km for the day was good.

Even if we'd reached Atyrau we wouldn't have had much energy left for bank, internet, fuel and the all important visa registration (required within 5 days of arrival).

The immigration offices for visa registration are open for restricted hours on Mon-Wed and Friday. Their addresses are on the internet ...... ! Today is Friday.

Our visas are for 30 days which means we will have to average more than 100 km per day.

 
So we veged out for the rest of the day about 1 km off the road, halfway to the railway line.

But close to water - what would we do without it? 

There's a stiff breeze blowing, it became stronger later with hints of electrical storm and rain in the distance. About 30 C.

 
We were visited by the regulation herd of sheep and goats.

These are very tall sheep (long legs).

The herder passed too quickly for us to say hello. Just a wave on the way back.

Last minute update sees us in Atyrau on Saturday morning.

Money from the Bankomat in the supermarket. Sim card for internet from KCell shop. And a small water leak from a heater hose connection.

We'll probably find somewhere to relax until Monday when the Atyrau OVIR (UVD) office is open for visa registration.

 
Atyrau to Qandyagash, Kazakhstan Week 121 July 27th - 31st 2013
 
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