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.