Ну, давай 

Several weeks ago, the land crossing at the border between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan opened to vehicular traffic for the first time since I’ve been here. It takes about fifteen minutes from our house in Tashkent to drive past the ring road and up the M-39 to the crossing itself. After going through immigration and customs on both the Uzbek and Kazakh sides, it’s about another 90 minutes (depending on weather and road conditions) to the Kazakh city of Shymkent (Шымкент). Oh Shymkent – where have you been all my Tashkent tour?


The total distance between the two cities is about 75-80 miles. The first time we went up, it took over 4 hours due to an active blizzard. We also drove half the distance via Kazakh country roads due to road work on the A-2, which continues still. I took an embassy satellite phone…and I was glad I did.

I have an SUV with all-wheel drive and solid tires, but the drive north felt treacherous when the snow was blowing so hard I could scarcely see 20 yards ahead. Even still, numerous drivers in less roadworthy cars raced by us like bats out of hell, responding to low visibility and slippery conditions by increasing their speed, honking, and overtaking semi-trucks on blind curves while flashing their high beams. I grew up near the Lake Tahoe area so needless to say, a lack of experience (or sanity) when it comes to winter driving is obvious to me. I know how to fall back and avoid the lunacy – although in fairness there was a part of me that questioned the wisdom of taking the trip in a blizzard to begin with. I think I was just determined to finally get up there.

The photo below shows the best part of the A-2 southbound at about 26 degrees Fahrenheit…absolutely covered in sheets of black ice.

In the end, I’ve enjoyed both of my visits to Shymkent enormously. One of my favorite things about Shymkent is the Mega Planet mall (formerly Ramstore), where you can shop for electronics and toiletries. This might not seem like a big deal. But the selection and prices are great, and compared to Tashkent (where many products are expensive, counterfeit, or simply don’t exist) it IS a big deal. Kazakhstan’s import game looks strong from here. Perfume, toothpaste, contact lens solution, hygiene items – safe, plentiful, and reasonably priced.

There’s also a Firkan grocery store in the basement of that mall that carries a wide variety of cheeses, alcohol, and international food. Hello, Brie, Chilean wine and shrimp!! Quite simply, it’s worth the trip just for groceries. The first time we went, the temperature was below freezing, and a trunk full of frozen vegetables, cheese and seafood stayed frozen solid all the way home.


Did I also mention…there are avocados?! Oh, the things that Americans take for granted…

Besides the mall, there’s a five star Turkish hotel called the Rixos Khadisha. For as little as about $150 per night, you can stay in an exquisite room and have your buffet breakfast at the Kazakhazia restaurant downstairs, including eggs cooked to order, a variety of fruits and coffees, sushi, fish, nuts, cheeses and meats, and pastries. The first time I saw it, I could not believe my eyes.


If you want to just visit the hotel to have breakfast, breakfast will run you about $9 a person. The Rixos also has an Italian restaurant called Olivia that is spectacular for dinner with a wide variety of pasta and meat dishes, wines and liquors. There’s also room service, although I haven’t tried it myself.

The hotel has a lovely atrium where you can enjoy service from the bar and confectionary, or you can just sit in peace and listen to a yellow canary sing. There is a spa on the underground level offering massages and beauty treatments by appointment, and featuring a heated indoor pool (with so. much. gold.) and a Turkish hamam (steam bath). There’s even an underground parking garage.


Within a couple of blocks of the hotel is a pan-Asian restaurant called Wok Wok, a German bierhaus called Бочонок, and Abay Park.


The park has a World War II memorial that specifically honors the Kazakh fallen, and lists notable Soviet heroes and their medals in both Russian and Kazakh languages.

As much as I love winter, I am excited to visit Shymkent in the spring. It will be easier to make the drive north, and easier to walk around town without slipping.


Private citizens crossing the border in their own car should be aware that non-diplomats will be obligated to fill out detailed customs paperwork when leaving and re-entering Uzbekistan. Not knowing any Russian or Uzbek may make this difficult. We saw maybe only two local vehicles coming through during our cumulative time at the border, while hundreds of shuttle traders passed through the pedestrian side on foot. Local vehicles undergo significant inspections, including, in some cases, the removal of wheels and interior panels. Of course, we aren’t subject to this because of the Vienna Convention, but it’s something to consider. We did have to show our vehicle “technical passport” which Uzbek authorities issued to me last year. The consular officer in me recommends always being familiar with international laws and procedures (or lack thereof) while traveling, and consulting official sources for instructions and information.


Hoping 2017 brings only safe road trips to you and yours!

  2 comments for “Ну, давай 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Wright Outta Nowhere

Tales from a Serial Expat

from the back of beyond

Detroit --> Angola --> Chile --> Cambodia--> India

adrift . . . but in a good way

the doings of the familia Calderón

I Think I'm Going to Like it Here

A little drama every day. ~Dramababyabroad

J.M.I.

Wanderings & Wonderings

The Multicultural Marketer

Inclusion Isn't Optional

LIVIN' THE HIGHLIFE

two humans, one cat, and our lives together in West Africa

travelin' the globe

my travels, my way. currently exploring swaziland and the rest of southern africa as a peace corps volunteer

Collecting Postcards

Foreign Service Officer and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

Football Explainers

Briefings and themes related to the sport

a rambling collective

Possibilities of connections and a sense of belonging.

Road Unraveled

Part-time travelers who want to inspire you to take a different vacation and go see the world!

Enchanted Forests

This Blog is about discovering the magic of forests in every aspect of life from a small plant in a metropolis to the forests themselves

diplomonkey

Chimping around the world!

The Unlikely Diplomat

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls. – Anais Nin

Countdown To Freedom

A blog about health, the keto diet, weight loss, family, relationships, travel & love!

The Mongolian Way

just a Rhode Island girl living in a Kazakh world

Latitude with Attitude

Exploring the World Diplomatically

Let's Go Somewhere

A life well-lived around the world.

Cu Placere

Joyce Hooley

DiploDad

Foreign Service Blog

Six Abroad

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all." - Helen Keller

simple Ula

I want to be rich. Rich in love, rich in health, rich in laughter, rich in adventure and rich in knowledge. You?

A Diplomat's Wife

just another story

bama in the balkans

Experiences of a Peace Corps Volunteer in Macedonia

Adventures in Macedonia

A Peace Corps Story

Twelve Knots

My Journey to the Foreign Service

Sarah Jones Abroad

I am serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgyzstan, come read about my advetures

Notes From Post

A Diplomat's Life Abroad

Raised in the Foreign Service

40 years later, a TCK looks at the world through the lens of Embassy family life

Around the World in Thirty Years

A little ditty about our adventures in the Foreign Service

memories over mohinga

a peace corps memoir

Bembes Abroad

Two People, Two Dogs...One New Country

Sending Postcards Home!

From travels around the world, with love..

Kelsey Schmitt

Travel & Lifestyle

Nomads By Nature: The Adventures Continue

We are a foreign service family currently posted in Windhoek, Namibia!!

Adventures Abroad

tales from a life abroad.

Texpatica

Ramblings about the life of a Texpat.

Emma & Nathan's Travels

Our worldwide travels beginning in the year 2017

Diplomatic Baggage

Perspectives of a Trailing Spouse, etc.

A Foot in Each World

Life, love, education, and adventure in foreign service.

%d bloggers like this: