Monday August 30th
I have arrived in Almaty having covered over 200 miles from the border, though the last few days have essentially been a hot and boring trudge along the main road. However one advantage has been Alimjan’s familiarity with the route - he has been able to find reasonable accommodation in people’s homes, and he knows all the best places to eat. Here is a lunch stop with friends.
One of the continual concerns particularly when one is riding in sweltering hot weather is how to wash at the end of the day, and I have certainly been faced with a variety of solutions over the last fortnight, and that is not counting when we were camping. Here is our water source for three days in Koktal, which we shared with passing livestock ….
…and the bathroom in Kokpek. If you look carefully you can see the bar of soap in the crook of the tree.
The most welcome experience was the ‘banya’ which is essentially a sauna bathroom in an outhouse, with steam produced from an old rusty boiler fired by wood. Containers of cold water are placed inside and having worked up a sweat and soaped, one ladles cold water over oneself - immensely cleansing and refreshing. Alimjan had his own banya, as did Rosa the Russian. In Bayseit Alimjan took me to the small public sauna bathhouse - only room for one at a time, in case you are wondering. In one household we were able to have a cold shower, which involved Kanat climbing up on the roof of an outhouse banya to fill a container with water. A turn of a tap by the shower head in the room below, and hey presto, a shower.
Another variation was the washing facility at a little house we rented for the night. Alimjan heated up water from the pump across the road on the outside stove …….
…. and we carried pails of hot water to the shower cubicle at the bottom of the garden.