Jul 19 2012

Friends And Injuries

Category: Friends,VideosChrisM @ 7:06 am

On Tuesday evening, we invited DanS and Justin over for a meal and a bit of chill out time. With Justin due to escape Kazakhstan very soon, and Lara and the kids (as in the rest of DanS’s family) still away on a holiday, it seemed like a good time to fill up with food, talk, empty the cupboards of beer and drive and just spend a bit of time together without a bar’s sound system making conversation nigh on impossible without BSL 🙂
We decided upon burritos (I discovered that tortillas with food inside, wrapped up, can be called burritos, as not all burritos have a hard shell) as a) I wanted something tasty and b) everyone else is a lot less picky with their food. Given that we could take out pick from home cooked battered chicken, Heinz baked beans, cheese, peppers, chillis, tomatoes and of course a bit of ketchup and mayo, this seemed the easiest way for everyone to have exactly what they wanted for dinner. Justin was working late, so the rest of us ate and drank until it was time for Tim and Anna to be made ready for bed, at which point Justin arrived. Irina kindly fried up some more chicken, and we all sat round the table enjoying more food (and perhaps a little more alcohol 🙂 ).
Once the food was out of the way, the question of entertainment reared it’s head. I suggested the xbox, as it has been gathering dust for months now – Irina isn’t a gamer, and once the kids are in bed most days, if we have spare time, we try to find something we would both like to watch. Anyway, I remembered that the console wasn’t actually turning on last time I checked, so after triple checking all the connecting leads were OK, and then unplugging everything, leaving just power and the HDMI cable, there was still no activity. After applying the engineer’s touch (short sharp shock to the box), it kicked into life. We decided to use the kinect, and to play Kinect Sports after a little driving fun.
You can see a montage of our sessions below – sorry about the low quality, I am sure last year’s clips were better. I’ve cleaned the lenses since just in case. Anyway, first we have Dan and Irina – I can’t remember who won overall. Dan is VERY keen to point out he didn’t lose at the boxing mini game.

Justin and Me – This was a draw, however given that Justin hadn’t ever played this game before, I suspect any subsequent rematches would not end as flatteringly for me. Especially if the javelin game was involved (I never learn it would seem, as I once again pulled some random muscle/ligament type thing in my arm when over-exerting a virtual throw of the javelin, as I did last year)!

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Jan 16 2012

Amsterdam – 7th January

Category: Amsterdam,Friends,Personal,PicturesChrisM @ 4:57 am

Saturday was the second meeting I had planned, except this time I was in the right country! ChrisB had had a pretty nasty car accident the week before in India, so decided a day in bed was a better idea for his back than traipsing round Haarlem. ChrisD was in default mode, reverting to beer and rugby, so that left Gapie (a local ACD member) and Cisco (a man as enthusiastic as I was to get to Haarlem), along with any of the other ACD members in town.
Eventually, and to no great surprise, it was decided that the trip would be delayed at least. No one had much energy, and to be frank just sitting down and chilling out in Voyagers seemed like a much better idea.

Blurry Gapie!

Blurry Gapie!

Voyagers' Menu

Voyagers' Menu

Once again, for photos with a more obvious Amsterdam theme to them, click the link below (or keep reading if you accessed this post directly)…
Continue reading “Amsterdam – 7th January”

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Oct 04 2011

Mum found somewhere selling Ef…

Category: Pictures,TweetsChrisM @ 12:04 am

Mum found somewhere selling Efes (Turkish(?) lager that reminds me of Astana) 🙂 Tesco in Llansamlet now has none left! http://t.co/sfKzCeUM

Efes, Vodka, Gin, Juice & Reflection Of A Sexy Beast

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Jul 06 2010

Better Than Expected

Category: Eating Out,Friends,Personal,VideosChrisM @ 1:58 am

OK, so to clarify the tweets, twitpics and Qik videos from Sunday night, here is what happened… Irina’s friend from work had recommended a summer “café” in Astana park, near the river. (See below for the approximate location thanks to Google Maps.) Originally I had intended to check it out whilst watching a World Cup match or two, but friends and friends of friends already had their heart set on a different venue. So when it came to Independence Day (4th of July), we asked Walton and Assel if they would like to try out La Rivière. We arrived to find that it was less a café (which some would assume meant it was not as expensive as some restaurants), but decided to try it out anyway.
We knew there was the possibility of some live musical entertainment from Irina’s friend’s description, and we weren’t disappointed. When I saw the female singer (see previous posts for the male), my first impression was that she looked very good, and I therefore assumed that her vocal talents might not be as impressive. Although a few songs seemed to be outside of her comfort zone, the recordings below don’t really do her justice for the most part…

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The lady singer preparing for her show at Rivière.

Here we have her version of You’ll See by Madonna, as well as a quick glimpse of a hookah/hubbly bubbly/water pipe that we had (water melon and grape was the flavour tobacco we chose I think.)

This time she is singing “Sweet About Me”, and another quick shot of the hookah

This was a cover of the Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

Penultimately we have Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop The Music”

And finally, she sang “Its A Wonderful Life” (Black I think? A group that has a colour as their name at least.)

The food was quite expensive, and there was apparently only a choice of two beers. However the cheeseburger (I know, I’m a classy guy 😉 ) was tasty, and the local Line Brew was relatively cheap and appeared to have alcohol in it 🙂 The samsas that were supposed to be a starter didn’t arrive until after the main course, but were OK. The service was great (especially by local standards), though if your company has given you a discount card for La Rivière, be aware that there has apparently been a management change, so these cards are no longer accepted. The water pipe was nice (we didn’t splash out on the extra money required to have a pineapple used as the charcoal bowl), and when the charcoals had died out, they didn’t try and charge us for more, so we were able to finish off the tobacco. The big screen (well projector and screen) looks like it could be good for the next World Cup match we go out to watch, though we may need to reserve a table in advance. Overall, I’d recommend this place if your budget isn’t tight, or if you only plan to have a couple of drinks and want to chill out outdoors, with the possibility of live entertainment.

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Jun 20 2010

Watching Cameroon vs Denmark m…

Category: TweetsChrisM @ 1:27 am

Watching Cameroon vs Denmark match,more exciting than last night’s snooze fest.No beer 2night though,sadly.Sleeping in garage,bedroom 2 hot!

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Jun 10 2010

At Queens Birthday Party in As…

Category: TweetsChrisM @ 9:57 pm

At Queens Birthday Party in Astana. Ira’s mum baby sitting. Fish’n’chips, beer and voluntary dancing. Videos will be Qiked later. Happiness

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Jun 03 2010

Drinking A Can Of Guinness A Day

Category: Anna's VideosChrisM @ 12:59 am

Back to Anna’s photos and videos once more. Once the blog has caught up with the UK clips and pictures, I’ll try and make sure those taken in Kazakhstan are posted quickly, and hopefully get close to real time publishing once more.

This one is very short, taken on the 22nd of February 2010. In the UK, there is a safe limit advised by the government, when it comes to how much alcohol you can drink a day. One can of normal strength beer isn’t a problem, however the size of the can might just have some sway in the decision making process, normally…

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May 15 2010

Beer, Brilliant Buddy Bears And Babies

Category: FriendsChrisM @ 2:05 am

DanC is back in town for a few days, so we are hoping to meet up on Saturday and see how his family is doing. The other Dan (DanD) will be joining us after his daughters finish their afternoon nap, by which time I hope to have had a few relaxing beers (one advantage of not driving over here), some barbecued beef, and then we’ll all move on to Bayterek to have a look at some brilliant buddy bears. Hopefully the walk will be healthy, as beer and shashlik aren’t known for their fat/calorie free content 🙂 Why all the letter B’s in this post? No idea TBH, but the buddy bears started this whole alliteration theme…

In case I forget to blog on them, or we end up not going there for some reason, here is a quick summary –

Buddy Bears Almost In Astana (Mock-Up)

The Buddy bears have arrived in Astana! There are 125 brightly painted bears standing in between Baiterek and Keyruen shopping centre. They stand at over 2 meters high painted by famous artists from all over the world, each one representing a country. They are an event of the ‘Germany in Kazakhstan’ programme and will be displayed until July.

(suggested meeting date and time information cut from original e-mail, my thanks to the Astana International Women’s Club for sending Irina this information)

Take a look at the website http://www.buddy-baer.com/united-buddy-bears/world-tour/astana-2010.html for more info and some great pictures.

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Jan 01 2007

Money – How Much?

Category: Eating Out,KazakhstanChrisM @ 2:11 am

OK, a couple of people have already e-mailed and asked “so how much money should I bring?”
Well, I’m not sure on an exact total, but if I give you an idea of how much stuff costs here, you’ll be better informed to guess a holiday total I suppose…

20 fags (Parliament) – 80pence
20 fags (Marlboro) – 40 pence
20 fags (Russian smokable stuff) – 20-35 pence

Bottle of coke in a shop – 50 pence
Bottle of vodka in a shop – 90 pence to 5 pounds, depending on brand (drinkable – nice), can pay more, but what’s the point?
Bottle of beer in a shop – 40 pence to 90 pence (Russian to European brands)

In a restaurant/cafe, fags, coke and beer maybe double the price, or there abouts, vodka costs maybe two pounds for 200ml

PC Games/Applications/MP3 collections – 2 pounds to 5 pounds, depending on amount of discs in box, and how obvious the copy is
Music CDs – between 40-80% of UK price

Taxi ride (real taxi) – 2 to 3 pounds for a 10/15 minute ride
Taxi ride (flagging a random car off the street) – haggle price, normally little cheaper than real taxi

Meal in a cafe (salad (ha ha ha), meat dish, chips, coke, vodka) – Between 4 and 12 pounds per person, depending on type of place you go to

Meal in a restaurant (same stuff as above) – Between 6 and 20 pounds tops, per person

Obviously, if you want to get drunk, rather than merely relaxed, add more money for the extra vodka/soft drink/beer

Entrance fee to a club – 5 to 7 pounds – basically, the more ‘exclusive’ an activity or brand is, the higher the price soars, prices for drinks in clubs a little higher than elsewhere.

Next door to China, so disposable electronic trinkets, that might last 5 years, or 5 days, are to be found in plenty of shops.
If you want any ‘Kazakh’ souvenirs – cultural stuff, definitely bring along a little bit extra cash.

Re. Money – bring at least 100 euros or a little more in dollars, the rest is up to you – there are ATMs over here (don’t forget to budget for banks comission/charges for this service), and there is ONE place that we know of that will exchange English pounds for Kazakh Tenge, but Irina says you shouldn’t rely on it still working/taking UK currency by the time you come over. Your choice basically.

Re. CDs/DVDs vs. portable hard drive. I’ve read around, and people have less difficulty taking hard drives out of the country than lots of discs, apparently. Couldn’t find any info on importing. Personally, I’ve never had a problem in either direction. There is apparently a rule, on your way out of the country,that if Customs discover discs in your luggage, they must have been previously inspected and sealed by a dept. elsewhere in Astana. You’ll need to do this four or five days before the flight.

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