Feb 10 2011

No Bangs, Just Honks

Category: Kazakh Driving,PersonalChrisM @ 9:57 pm

I need to speak to a friend before the weekend, to find out if their car is for sale or not. As you may have guessed, we are looking at buying one to use here in Astana sometime soon. Normally you just have a husband and wife with different priorities and preconceived ideas about makes and models, however with such a large investment as this, we need Ira’s parents’ help as well. This mean adding in another opinion, plus also taking on board the advice from his friends. (He hasn’t driven in a long time as his company provides a driver), whereas his friends are a lot more in tune with local issues re. servicing and parts availability.
Ideally (though unrealistically, price wise) I have been wanting a Subaru Impreza WRX or Mitsubishi Evo for years now, however a) they are just too pricey new, and the only ones we could afford second hand are either too high mileage, or suspiciously cheap (something major wrong or perhaps been in a nasty accident previously) and b) Irina doesn’t want too much power.
So, we are hoping to visit a few forecourts this Saturday (and assuming DaveG makes it to Kazakhstan, out the evening to catch up with him), just to get a feel for the cars that are available over here. There is the possibility of buying a new or second hand car in Germany and importing it over, mainly because the prices are more reasonable there. (Cars do not depreciate in value over here at anything like the same rate. Great if you’re wanting to sell your car, not so great if you’re just looking to buy). I’m wondering whether car salesman will be the same here in Astana as back in Britain, or whether they behave and look different? Perhaps bow ties are de rigueur as is a non-pushy approach to interacting with prospective clients?
Anyway, I’m looking forward to actually checking a few different models out in real life, as you can use Wikipedia, Top Gear’s site and google in general until the cows come home, but until you see a car for yourself from real life angles, with a good idea for scale, you can never be sure how you’ll feel about that model that caught your eye online.
As you may have guessed, it looks like my previous proclamation of “Me? Driving in this country? NEVER!” may well be over, but with Anna going to playgroup twice a week, food shopping and just visiting the in-laws each week, the cost of taxis is getting silly really, and during the winter at least, walking to most places is just not realistic. I had previously suggested buying an old Kamaz (big commercial truck) and fitting gun turrets, but locals think this wouldn’t go down well. Hey ho, time to compromise… perhaps “just” a train air horn?