Train ride: actau to aktobe fun fun fun
Trip Start Oct 15, 2006
27Trip End ??? ??, 2007
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NO STINKY CABIN
i like train travel in asia. its always cheap enuf to take a sleeper, which i find always very comfy.
i like how, when i board a train, i don't know anyone, but after 5 hours or 2 days or whatever, i have new friends,
i like how one can walk around, up and down the length of the train, if one so desires, without any hassle.
i like stretching out on the bed/ berth.
i like the way the rocking motion and clickety-clack noises nurse me off to sleep.
i like getting off and buying food/ smokes/ beer at stations.
i like how its ok to smoke in between the carriages.
i like how its ok to drink on a train.
i like to get drunk on long train rides.
but most of all, i especially like how, unlike buses, one can easily visit the toilet on a train.
i DON'T like the toilets on kazakh trains.
for some unknown reason, the toilets on kazakh trains are western, sit down toilets.
but not just any western toilet, oh no!
these are special.
they look as though they were dug up from some world war 1 trench, shat on, buried,
dug up, shat on again and promptly installed in the euphamism room on a kazakh train.
they are rusty, crusty, dirty, over painted, seldom cleaned, stinky bog thrones, with bootprints on the seat from the last person who squatted on it.
i usually have no problem at all squatting over a proper squat toilet on a train, or anywhere else for that matter.
but squatting on a toilet seat on a western toilet?
its all too confined and i'm afraid i'm gonna paint the town brown.
.........so i'll leave it up to you to imagine the wierd, semi-squat-semi-stand position i had to contort myself into, to feel safe enuf to do business.
the first day on the train and i looked out the window, enjoying watching the frozen wasteland that is western kazakhstan go by.
i ate. i slept. i read my books. i talked, or, rather, communicated, with my kazakh uzbeki friends. i walked up and down. i smoked. i chewed the fat.
and then in the afternoon, it all got to be a bit too much and i felt compelled to have a beer.
so have a beer, i did. and another. and another.
travelling on trains is almost the same as waiting for a train. the only difference being that with one, u don't go anywhere, with the other u do.
either way, they both involve waiting.
i played the beer and wait game.
up the train.
down the train.
off the train at the stations to quicly purchase more beer before the train pulls off. (the beer at the stations being much colder than the beer on the train, due to the outside climate control having been set to zero, a very handy temperature indeed for the chilling of beer. not so handy, however for the poor vendors who have to sit around all day in zero degrees celcius, waiting for somebody to come and buy their beer.)
i suppose it was about 4pm, when i was sitting next to a girl about 5 carriages away from my own, talking in russian/ english/ kazakh, when the transport police came thru.
'oh dear,' methunk.
'passport!' said they.
i handed it over, to which they replied 'luggage!'
so i led them the 5 carriages, back to my berth, where they performed a perfunctory search of my belongings before scuttling off to the guard room with my passport.
now, my guidebook proclaimed that the cops in kazakhstan aren't as bad as they once were, but nevertheless, keep you should your wits about u when the police are about.
so, left armpit sweating again, i followed them to the guard room, wondering 'how much this one is gonna cost me?'
they held my document, flicked thru it, looked at me, passed it around and generally just made me sweat for a while......
and then they said 'OK!' with a smile, and gave my passport back.
sometime that afternoon, i met Yernar and his wife, who had recently
been married and were on their way home to shymkent, for a sabattical.
it was quite late and exfukenstremely cold when we pulled into aktobe, where i got off the train in my t-shirt and thongs (flip flops), like in invincible idiot, to buy more beer that had been conveniently chilling nicely in the snow outside.
so i carried on boozing and harassing my fellow passengers till i-dunno-what-time, when i managed to clamber into bed and happily pass out.
NOTE: TIME WITHOUT SHOWER
Last shower: 9am, Jan 21.
Time now: 10pm, Jan 24
Time elapsed since last shower: 3 days, 13 hours.