Jul 26 2012

Borovoe Burabay

Category: Eating Out,Friends,Kazakh Driving,PicturesChrisM @ 10:48 am

Once again, here is a post that compiles a few tweets sent out recently. Justin (soon to return to Britain), DanS and I all decided on Saturday lunchtime that our last weekend together in Astana should be spent doing something other than the usual bar and club visits within the city. Dan and I had previously mulled over the idea of getting up to Borovoe, but never quite organized ourselves and committing to a date. I had hoped to visit the area since about 2007, but attempting to coordinate with Ira’s in-laws, friends, and all the planning that would have had to be in place for others to be happy meant it just has not occurred.
As this was to be a sort of farewell celebration for Justin, Dan and I decided we should probably check he would actually be interested in going before getting too excited. Luckily, he was definitely interested in seeing what life was like near, but outside of, Astana. So, after throwing together supplies (beer, snacks, sun screen, tunes for the journey and transferring my GPS and car video recorder to Dan’s car, we were ready. Dan had volunteered to drive, which was good for two reasons 1) His car is bigger, so more leg room for the passengers and 2) I could have a few drinks on the way to get into the swing of things!
A couple of friends were already at Borovoe (Burabay if you transliterate the Kazakh, instead of Russian name for the town), so we made sure we knew where they were roughly, and also remembered seeing an online flyer for an open air music night. Although the web page that had details of the bar/club had been taken down, I eventually tracked down another site that still had the details, and popped the address into the GPS. It turned out that there was a village with the same name as the area of Borovoe we were headed to, so we wasted an hour or so at the beginning of the journey heading in the wrong direction. Rather than get too annoyed, we just saw it as discovering a bit more of Kazakhstan we had not seen before!

After the police checkpoint had been passed (I know that neither I, nor any of my friends ever break the law, so I’ll frame this story as happening to the car next to us), during which we saw the car next to us have to pay a fine for not coming to a complete stop (there are normally two types of fine here in Kazakhstan, the official one normally based upon trumped versions of events, and the slightly cheaper amount which involves no paperwork and a local official suddenly having more money in his pocket that at the start of his shift), we settled down into a nice routine of driving along the superb road (probably the best condition I’ve ever come across here, 140km/hr was possible and safe!), stopping for an occasional cigarette and drink at picnic spots on the route.
Once we arrived, we attempted to meet up with our friends, but discovered they were in a different area, and heading to bed soon. We decided to head towards the open air music event, and soon found ourselves in a semi-orderly queue, with the tunes putting us in the right frame of mind for a good night out. Once inside the perimeter, we found a big bar in the middle (podium dancers making a pleasant visual distraction whilst waiting to be served), with a stage (one MC, one DJ and another dancer I think?), and a lot of people enjoying the music, the drink and ambience. This continued into Sunday, so I’ll save that for another post.

Jul 11 2012

Sky Bar – Asia Park

Category: Eating Out,Personal,Tim's PhotosChrisM @ 9:50 pm

This evening we popped over to the Asia Park shopping centre. Primarily because one of Irina’s friends has her birthday this week, and Dana had kindly passed on a voucher she bought at Chocolife for the Bomb Cosmetics boutique. Whilst Irina decided on the gift (I’ll not yet post details on the off chance that Balzhan ever actually practices her English by reading this site!), Tim, Anna and I took a little stroll up and down, during which time Anna wanted an explanation as to why she couldn’t eat the apple on a plastic tree, and Tim eventually conceded that not having Mummy directly in front of him did not mean a constant scream was required. Eventually a gift (and something for our flat, a nice smelling citrus candle that caught my eye) was selected, and we proceeded upstairs with the idea of grabbing a quick and easy tea from the fast food area. Every other time we have visited this mall in the past, and selected the naughty but nice treat of no cooking or clearing up, we have gone with pizza. Today, however, was a break from the routine, as we decided to finally check out the prices of the Sky Bar. Although not cheap, given the view and the relatively upmarket (for a shopping centre) feel, we decided to try it out.
Quite a few items of food and drink from their menu were not available, but I decided to try their beef schnitzel. Well worth the gamble, definitely the second best schnitzel I’ve had in Astana. Given that I can not remember which restaurant served the best ever (I’ve tried all the likely suspects, all of them disappointed), I think the Sky Bar will be getting a few return visits in the months to come! Irina had sushi (she thought it was an average result in terms of taste, but definitely small portions considering the price), and Anna had the (beef!) carbonara. As it was an adult-sized portion, Ira and I helped her to finish it off in the end. Do our sacrifices know no end? 😉

Oh that reminds me, for friends and family who have an interest, I don’t think I’ve yet mentioned on the blog the reason that all four of us have mostly been in the flat since last Thursday, rather than the normal rushing around to playgroup, Chubary etc. – it turns out that Anna and Tim have both got bacterial tonsillitis (at least that is the closest translation we could fine, and it apparently is different to viral tonsillitis?). So we have been trying to keep their temperatures down, dealing with short sleeps/naps, and generally not doing a great deal instead.

Jul 10 2012

Astana Park Tweets

Category: Anna's Photos,Eating Out,Personal,Tim's PhotosChrisM @ 11:20 pm

About a week ago we went to Astana park on a couple of different days, and rather than have this site’s front page be almost entirely tweet-based, I’m putting the photos and text into one post.

Whilst in the park, I watched a transverse (push left, it goes right, and vice versa) bike competition (pay an entrance fee, manage to cylce about 30m and you got a good payout. I heard Black Lace’s “Agadoo” being played over some speakers near by. Real blast from the past!

The cafe shown is Otrar, it had much improved decor in the outside section, compared to a visit two years ago. Sadly, the pizza was not really average even 🙁

Jun 26 2012

Picnic In The Park II

Category: Eating Out,Friends,Personal,PicturesChrisM @ 6:38 pm

The day following the birthday party and first use of the new pool, I headed over to the Presidential Park here in Astana, as Lara (and Dan) had organized another picnic. This was to celebrate the end of the academic year (Lara runs a language school), and so teachers, pupils and parents all attended. It was in a different location to last time, and as I was driving, I can recall the entire day as well! Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and it was great to have a bit of proper shade to collapse into, after playing football for the first time since school! My left leg is still complaining about the sprinting without any warming up, and I had a killer of a headache (mild heat stroke? it was pushing 35 in the midday sun) later on, but I’m really glad I attended.

Jun 21 2012

Tiflis.Ira had lovely hair sty…

Category: Anna's Photos,Eating Out,Tim's Photos,TweetsChrisM @ 8:30 pm

Tiflis.Ira had lovely hair styling.Meal=almost wk/end treat4us http://t.co/IInCk7KT http://t.co/x79z1sgl http://t.co/NP6gDzFy

Live Singing. Apparently Costs 1000 Tenge Per Table!

Anna Having Enjoyed Her Milkshake

Tim And Irina

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Jun 14 2012

Treat lunch at Il Patio (Prosp…

Category: Anna's Photos,Eating Out,Tim's Photos,TweetsChrisM @ 2:05 pm

Treat lunch at Il Patio (Prospekt Respublika branch) with Irina, Anna & Tim. Sushi (Ira) and pizza (me & Anna) – http://t.co/TMEetBMM

Tim, Anna & Irina At Il Patio, Astana, Kazakhstan

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Jun 07 2012

Took car for a wash, checking …

Category: Eating Out,Pictures,TweetsChrisM @ 11:26 am

Took car for a wash, checking out the restaurant on the floor above. Assumed it would be KFC/Big Mama style.Nope – http://t.co/M489UFAH

Random Restaurant Above A Random Car Wash

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May 27 2012

To Do List – May 2012

Category: Eating Out,Kazakh Driving,Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 2:12 am

Why publish a to do list on my blog? Because it will hopefully kick me into action and cause me to actually accomplish some of these!

Get ruthless and actually get around to selling off any domains I own that a) I haven’t added new content to in a while and b) Haven’t generated any serious income in the last 12 months. I have already put a few up for sale over at sedo.com , but no interest has been shown yet, so I either need to consider dropping my prices, or looking at other markets.

Find a reasonably priced office chair. Our original one broke a few years back when a couple of ladies decided to try and share it. It leant back, but that part of the mechanism snapped, and so is tilted towards the ceiling permanently. Rather than throw it away, I have a very comfortable chair to smoke on, when sat on the balcony! We need to find a furniture shop in Astana that sells comfortable chairs (tilting isn’t a deal breaker, but definitely would like a swivel one), in a material that won’t instantly shred with a cat sat on it, nor stain the moment Tim or Anna spill something on it. Oh, and obviously somewhere that sells a chair like that without it costing three months wages!

Office Chair

Sorting out USB issues on this PC – something is preventing devices plugged into my USB3 card from properly waking up after the PC is put into hibernation mode. This will either be a breeze to fix, or a real pain. I’ve done the obvious in terms of checking for driver updates, fiddling with the USB selective suspend setting, altering whether each USB device was allowed to be put to sleep and/or used as a trigger to wake up etc.

Once the hibernation issue is fixed, check if our UPS will correctly hibernate the PC when power is lost. I originally tried to save some resources by not installing the software that the UPS company provided, instead using Microsoft’s system, normally used for laptop running on battery power. Unfortunately it didn’t quite read the battery levels correctly, so I had to relent in the end.

BACKUP!!! I think we have about eight or nine months of photos that aren’t yet backed up on to disc. Moving swiftly on…

Edit and upload some of the car video recorder clips I’ve taken in the last few months. Mainly to just give people a general idea of the driving style over here, but I’m pretty certain I caught a few WTF moments along the way. This will unfortunately mean delving back in MOV editing, as the first and current cameras we tried use this format for some reason.

Anna and Tim’s photos – I have once more fallen woefully behind on publishing anything other than snapshots from my phone’s camera. Sorry, I will one day get close to real time publishing, I’m sure.

Check whether our current GPS device has the correct hardware to display video sources, or if it was disabled by the manufacturer. If it does work, source a good (enough) non-obtrusive camera and wire it up, for that rare occasion in Astana when parking doesn’t involve going local, and just stopping wherever you like, at whatever angle/distance to the kerb!

Start writing up more restaurant and bar reviews. I realise that there are quite a few new ex-pats in this city, and that some only ever frequent one or two venues. I’m hoping to get back to my old habits and write up/record on my phone observations.

I’m sure there are a lot more, but that will do for now. Hopefully I can come back in a month or two and cross some of these off the list!

May 22 2012

At AliBaBa. Tim’s first Baurs…

Category: Eating Out,Pictures,TweetsChrisM @ 7:19 pm

At AliBaBa.
Tim’s first Baursaki – http://t.co/bwgJ2Th6
Ira and Anna at the Kazakh style table – http://t.co/xpWrYuTu

Nyom Nyom. Like doughnuts without the sugar!

Irina And Anna Eating At AliBaBa

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Apr 24 2012

At Brioche (Prospekt Pobyeda) …

Category: Anna's Photos,Eating Out,Pictures,TweetsChrisM @ 11:45 am

At Brioche (Prospekt Pobyeda) with Irina, Anna & Tim. Delicious cakes, and no nuts in mine! Yum yum… http://t.co/0oGE2uMo

Anna, Chocolate Cake & A Milkshake At Brioche, Astana

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