Crossing Into Kazakhstan!! The Journey of Central Asia… begins…

curious kazakh boys

I rode swift along the beautiful grassland under the very clear blue sky. The wind pushed me hard, and ive no problem cycling at some 35km/hour with my heavy luggage. The only unnatural sound came from my tyres, the rest were sound of birds, horses and the siberian wind. More eagles flew freely above me, then my eyes fixed at a group of birds flying towards the horizon, leading my eyes towards the snow mountains. I then stopped pedaling,  watching the incredible view, then I realized, that I was surrounded by snow mountains. On my right, which was north, was the Alatau mountains. On my left which is south, was the Tian Shan mountains. I was heading west towards Almaty which was some 370km ahead of me. The new chapter of my life has begun, the adventure of Central Asia. Long i have dreamed to explore this part of the world, today Im finally here in Central Asia, welcoming this lonely man that belongs to the proud brown people from the southeast of asia…

ni lah dia rupa budak tak cukup tido…

Kazakhstan is famous for 2 things in my opinion, oil and Borat :) This is the land where oil is cheaper than water, yet another big blank space on the map. Some people never even heard of this country. When i was in facebook chat few days ago, i was chatting with 1 of my ex student. She asked me where am i now. I answered im riding somewhere in Kazakhstan now. She asked again where is Kazakhstan? Is it a state of China? I just smiled in front of my computer screen.

my 1st camping site in Kazakhstan!!

i actually tried hard to look cool in this picture but……….

Suprising, crossing the border at Korgas from China to Kazakhstan was very smooth for me. Many travelers reported on various travel forums on the internet that they have difficulties crossing the border that usually took hours. It took me less than 1/2 hour, 10 minutes on China side and another 10 minutes on Kazakhstan side. After only 20 meters of riding from the border post, a big fat Kazakh man stopped me, shouting at me asking me wether Im from Kitai (China) and I said no. I said Im from Malaysia. His eyes then opened wide and said “Malaysia??? Good… good… Malaysia… Kazakhstan… friend.. friend!!” He then smiled at me and shook my hand. Ive learned that the people here dont really like China. The fat notorious looking Kazakh guy then said “Kitai” (means China) while punching his big fist on his palm, a body language that tells me he hates China. After riding another 2km ahead, I was stopped by a big Kazakhstan army, asking me wether Im a Kitai. Again i said Im Malaysian. He then demanded my passport and smiled after he saw my passport is written “MALAYSIA”. He then said he likes Malaysia, then we had some simple conversation and finally he let me go.
My ride from the border to the centre of Almaty only took me 3 days. I rode fast over 100km daily along the vast plain of Kazakhstan. The road was quite bad but flatland, allowing me to ride over 35km/hour on average. But i had 1 big problem, I didnt have enough cash! There was a town called Zherkent, i thought there were ATM machines there where i can withdraw some cash. When i was there, it was nothing more than a very very small tiny little town. Our “Batang Berjuntai” in Selangor is probably 50 times more advanced than this town. Worried, I then continue my ride to Almaty which was over 300km away, and i only have 6000 Tenge (similar to our 180 ringgos.. eh… ringgit).

preparing to camp!

I repeat… Kazakhstan is insanely expensive, when i was in Zherkent, i bought a bread, 2 bottles of 1.5L mineral water, a redbull and 3 cans of coke and that cost me 1600 Tenge! (RM50). Oh god, now i have 3400T left and im still hungry! The second day i stopped in a small village (dont know what it is called), had lunch (which wasnt so much) and cost me 500T! 2900T left in my pocket. Aww no… no banks until Almaty, i had some chinese yuan but to these people, chinese yuan is just a piece of useless paper and i have some US dollar but they refused to accept it. I was hungry, so on desperate attempt, i then camped near a river (free water supply yay!). I was camping all the way until i reached Almaty and guess what… I made it! Good experience for me, Ive learned the art of not spending money while traveling, I made it to Almaty alive!!! (but I smell like a horse yerk). Good thing i only spent around 3000T in 3 days at one of the most expensive country in the world! Well done me myself!! :)
setting up my tent, getting ready to enjoy the beautiful sunset :)

elemek… almaty jauh lagi la beb…

But yet, there was another problem! I arrived the busy city of Almaty at night on the 3rd day, tired. It was already dark, banks already closed, i dont even have enough money to even stay in the cheapest hotel available. I then decided not to go to the centre town since it was already dark and from what ive heard, Almaty is quite dangerous at night especially to foreigners, so i went for dinner in a small restaurant. The owner is Uighur and after he looked at my condition and realized that i dont have much money, he let me eat for free! I then asked his permission wether i can sleep outside his restaurant. He said no problem but he warned me it is very cold at night and many dogs here. Ahaaa…. i told him not to worry. Im used to it. With my experience sleeping at the snow mountains alone almost every night and sometimes i heard the sound of wolves, sleeping here at the roadside surrounded by dogs, is defintely nothing for me.

18 Comments on “Crossing Into Kazakhstan!! The Journey of Central Asia… begins…

  1. Tahniah Zahari, at last sampai juga ke Kazakhstan, dari foto ia sebuah negara yang cantik tapi sedih juga bila membaca yang Zahari tak cukup makan, bukan kerana tak ada wang tapi tak ada bank, walau bagaimana pun pengalaman mengdewasakan kita, berapa lama plan nak duduk di Kazakhstan yang sexy tu? harap dapat rehat yg cukup dan tak dikacau dek anjing2 kat luar tu…:)

  2. eh elias – tu la. siap mlm tu saya mimpi jumpa bank dgn supermarket jual susu tepung hehe. tapi tak kisah sgt, coz saya fikir, tuhan jadikan semua benda complete berpasangan. setiap problem datang complete dengan solution. thank god saya jumpa solution. sampai gak ke almaty dengan perut yg kenyang :)
    oh tak lama lah duduk sini… hari ahad cabut kayuh ke kyrgyzstan. mahal sangat lah kazakhstan ni tak tahan… duit keluar macam air paip bocor!!

  3. yay you’re finally in kazakhstan! take more pictures of the people there…guys especially hahaha. take care bro and all the best!

  4. bro…keep us updated…ni boleh buat buku … one male brownie crossing the center of asia … perggh …. sure meletup tu, boleh jadi best seller ;=)

  5. the journey is awe-inspiring! and those images are priceless!!! All the best man! Journalize the adventure and publish a book! it’ll be awesome!

    Waiting for you next update! Take care man! Cheers!

    Regards,
    hee

  6. you are great i admire your courage, keep it up,all the best along the way, take care awaiting your next update

  7. Hello Zahari, I come to know you from Hafizol yesterday as we had a conversation about my coming back from Astana yesterday! What you are doing is amazing! I am a fellow mountain biker who have lived in Kazakhstan for 3 years, and I can tell you that you are absolutely right about the country being expensive. If you are venturing northward, I suggest that you make trip to Borovoye. Beautiful countryside! Oh, if you are still in Almaty, you can rent rooms on daily basis, somewhere from 500T to 800T. Try to find your way to Panfilov Street, there’s people by the street renting out these places there.

    Happy to have read your blog. Keep posting there!

  8. Since the first day I found your blog, I can’t stop reading.. Very interesting and inspiring….Never’ve thought that any brown chap to cycle alone in this part of the world… Good luck and
    Safe ride to you mate!!!

  9. How are u man, after u cross Kazak land no sound no picture from u…!

  10. Apa sudah jadi? It has been nearly 3 weeks since you last posted. I pray you are alright. Saw your threads in PhotoMalaysia. The quality of pictures there are better than those in your blog.

  11. Hari ni dah penghujung hari raya..sepanjang Shawal ni di mana saudara berada..lama tak dengar berita saya doakan semuga sentiasa sihat untuk meneruskan pengembaraan,,jumpa lagi …jangan tinggal solat…

  12. cuz.. u’re doing great there.. keep it up.. baru ada masa nak jenguk2 ur blog… fantastic pictures as usual..

  13. hey thx for the replies guys. sorry i couldnt update my blog for sooo long! getting internet connection here in central asia is tricky! and dont worry about me… im still alive and kickin’! :)

    Vik – ahaa… living in astana huh? looks like a nice city, better than our putrajaya? but no mate… i dont really like kazakhstan. so dont think i will ride north. i might turn west towards uzbekistan instead. and no worries, when i was in almaty, i stayed in gostinitsa inside the train station building in abylay khan, costs me only 1500T a night. only stayed few days there and quickly rode to kordey to kyrgyzstan. much cheaper here…

  14. Salam Zahari,
    I just got to know about you today when someone posted a link on FB.
    Just like everybody else here, I am proud of you and what you are doing. The pictures are absolutely gorgeous. Keep writing OK. Take care :)

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