Saturday, May 19, 2012


Aktobe, a town that has brought many happy memories and some sad ones (more on that later).
Leaving Uralsk earlish, with all paperwork in order, we had planned to make it Aktobe and then camp off the road somewhere.
The run to Aktobe was fairly easy for the first 300ks or so, with lots of roadworks and poor road for the last 150ks. The steppe country is beautiful, with big wide open spaces, reminds me of central Australia. Very windy though rode all day in a strong cross wind. We are probably carrying a little to much luggage at the moment. Will need to reduce that at some stage.

We stopped to adjust some luggage and these people stopped to say hello.

The vast Kazakh step.

There was a lot of water flowing across the steppe, I assume mainly from snow melt after the winter.

One of the many bypasses for roadworks.
We arrived in Aktobe and immediately found a large supermarket, bigger than anything we came across in Russia. Time to get some supplies!
While I went to get some money, Sharon looked after the bike. When I came back out there was 10 blokes around her and the bike all asking where we came from, where we were going and why. Luckily there was someone who spoke pretty good English. After Sharon went into the shops they all disappeared.
As I was sitting there waiting another guy turned up asked me in broken English the same questions and introduced himself as Vitaly. As we kept talking he asked me where we were staying, I said "Camping", he asked where? And after little bit said no you're not you're staying at our place. Wow, just wow. Could he read the tiredness in my face that said the last thing I wanted to do was camp? The kindness of this stranger just overwhelmed me.
He introduced me to his son, also Vitaly and wife Irina. After talking a little longer I went and collected Sharon from her shopping, she jumped into their car and we were on our way to get Pizza for dinner.
As we were waiting for the the Pizza, we found out that it was Irina's Birthday. Not only did we get a dinner invite, it was a dinner invite on a special night. We also collected one of Irina's friend Marie who was studying to become a gynecologist.
While all this was going on a bunch of young blokes came up to look at the bike and to ask about it and our journey. Really nice guys we took a bunch of photos and then they disappeared only to come back ten minutes later with a souvenir from Aktobe. Such generosity! It left me speechless and really still does.

Once the pizzas were ready it was off to our newly found accommodation. We greeted by Vitaly's mum who had prepared a great feast for us. The Pizza was only for an after dinner snack! It was so much food! And we kept having our plates loaded despite our protests that we were very full. Fantastic.

After dinner it was into town for some sightseeing. Aktobe is a beautiful city, filled with splendid buildings that were lit up at night. Some were brand new and testament to the extravagance of the President (for right or wrong).

Svetlana - Vitaly's mum and maker of great food.
Once all that was done it was time for bed. I had best nights sleep than I what I had done in a number of weeks. Most nights I was worried about what tomorrow was going to bring, this night all that had left me.
With a nice sleep in the following day we headed to out and about to run some errands with Vitaly and Irina. (only after a big breakfast). It was fun and in the afternoon while Vitaly did some work we watched a DVD in English and caught up on some planning for the next couple of days.

Young Vitaly and Reech the dog.

Vitaly and Irina.

Sharon got this beautiful stuffed camel as a gift.
So yes we actually stayed for 2 nights and all the food that we could eat.
When the next morning rolled around it was time to say some very sad good byes as they drove us to the edge of town. These are people that we are never likely to see again, though I would dearly love too. They took us in when we most needed it and left us with amongst the best memories we will have. That we are unlikely to see them again, leaves also with the saddest memories of the trip.

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