Woke up at 4am to catch a taxi to the bus terminus for the Lake Kaindy trip. The information centre arranged the trip for us except this taxi trip of course. It was a one-night trip. We would spend a night at a huge guesthouse run by a family in Saty.
According to the information centre, we were the first tourists this year there and the only ones there. If I were by myself, I would be the first and the only one. 😀
This morning because the other traveller (I don’t even want to call him my travel companion. Please stay away from me) took too long to pack his stuff, we were 15 minutes late for the taxi. The driver penalised us and we had to pay more. The hostel funded us 50 tenge. That was very kind of them.
The bus terminus was incredibly quiet. The other traveller suggested we leave the terminus and ask someone else. He said he saw some buses. But those buses looked like those ones running within the city to me. I was a bit sceptical especially it was coming from the other traveller who hadn’t travelled like this before. A lot of taxi drivers approached us. They said there were no buses running today. They quoted 7,000 tenge at first but reduced the price to 5,000 tenge per person. One of the taxi drivers had a mobile so I borrowed his phone and called the information centre guy.
The information centre guy checked and got back to me saying that there was really no bus (Gosh! Didn’t he know that when he arranged the guesthouse for us?). I told him my situation. He said I should take a taxi but I told him the price was ridiculously high. I asked him to negotiate with the taxi driver and we were only willing to pay 2,500 tenge max each. I didn’t want to have another bad experience here. He helped and really got it for 2,500 tenge which was 500 tenge more than the bus which was good. 🙂
We stopped for a toilet break. The toilet was a mixture of everything – oriental style, no doors, concrete hole in the ground, extremely smelly, I even saw one lady crouching there smoking. Disgusting. I needed to pay 20 tenge for it and I got a few pieces of toilet paper in return, it was just like South America. (I wonder if I had toilet paper with me, would they still charge me anything. They’d have one fewer excuse to charge me.) The taps for washing hands were the same as the ones in the Mongolian ger – a small silver tank with a stick coming out at the bottom and I pushed the stick in to get the water.
The guest house was much better than I expected. Very homely. It was a homestay actually. The host introduced his family to us. He told us he had 5 sons and 1 daughter and 7 grandchildren. The little ones lived with them and his children live in Almaty. They were all married. I learnt from somewhere that the Kazakhs cared a lot their family. That’s good.
I was so happy to see so much snow on the trekking trail! The snow was up to my knees!!! It was like the time when I was in Norway. I started a snow fight with a Kazakh teenager who came with us but he just laughed. He didn’t fight back. (Why didn’t I mention the traveller from Hong Kong who followed me to Kazakhstan? Because he didn’t even engage in any conversations nor the snow fights. He didn’t interact with anyone for the entire trip. Honestly, I still don’t know why he tagged along. He probably treated me like a tour guide like I said in my previous blog. I wrote the details in my journal but didn’t want to put it here. I knew I had to split up with him at some stage of this trip in Kazakhstan. So, from now on, I won’t mention him at all unless it is necessary.)
The driver at first was quiet because of the language barriers. But as I kept talking to him using body language and somehow I seemed to understand his Kazakh, he started talking to us. He showed us plants, told us the height of the mountain (2,500m) by writing the numbers on the snow, the avalanche in 1901, etc. He then took us to some other places near the lake to take photos. That was so kind of him. I felt pampered again.
P.S. Fact (Wikipedia) – Lake Kaindy is in Kolsay Lakes National Park which is located on the north slope of the Tian Shan Mountains. That’s why I saw vegetation that I had seen in Xinjiang.
27 March 2013
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