Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Mukier and muckier

Wednesday May 18th

A dubious alternative spelling for Muqir - I would not have said it was any muckier than any other small Kazakh town on the steppe.
This was the chaikhana where I had a plate of zharkie, a meat and potato dish. An ominous looking gang of Muqir youths in balaclavas - but in fact most friendly and eager to
be photographed. One often sees men in balaclavas - not due to evil intent, but because of the dust.
Is that a chaikhana I see before me? Always a welcome sight when one is plodding across the steppe for hours, and as I am following the A340, we encounter them more regularly than before.

With the little horse on the sign, this one seemed to be prepared for horse travellers - or perhaps it was an indication that the not particularly good pelmeni (small meat dumplings) on the menu contained horse meat.
As you can see from the photo, thunderstormy weather started to close in. This turns the tracks to slippery glutinous mud which is heavy going for the horses. When we camped on a hillside near Makat, we were hit by a tremendous thunderstorm which completely washed out my tent. The following morning Bauzhan only just managed to get the truck down to the main road by taking a run through the mud and then digging his way out for the last few yards.
The horses were not impressed by this statue of a trader with his camels near Makat!

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