Jul 03 2010

Javier, if u ever read this, I…

Category: Friends,Sport,TweetsChrisM @ 9:57 pm

Javier, if u ever read this, I came2 the match with my loyalties split. Then Maradonna appeared on screen.
I was surprised Arg didn’t get 1

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Jul 03 2010

At Bochonok, emergency replacement

Category: Eating Out,Friends,Pictures,Sport,TweetsChrisM @ 8:03 pm

At Bochonok, emergency replacement to last weeks aborted visit to the Royal Betting Bar. DEU vs ARG, should be good http://twitpic.com/2229jm

Bochonok German Style Pub

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Jun 28 2010

Royal Betting – Customer Losing

Category: Eating Out,Friends,Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 10:54 pm

To elaborate on the previous tweet regarding the Royal Betting Sports Bar (part of the Kings Hotel complex) in Astana, we were originally heading there to take our place at a reserved table, to watch the England versus Germany World Cup match. A friend of Dan’s had kindly contacted Royal Betting the day before, to check if we could make sure we would have seats to watch the match, and get a feel for the place. He was told on the phone that a table of around 20-40 people would need to spend at least 15,000 Tenge. This equates to around $90, which even allowing for the designated drivers in our group just drinking coke or juice was absolutely fine.
However, upon our arrival, we discovered just why Royal Betting was a bar to avoid in Astana (see half way down the page for some info in Russian and pictures). The manager met us at the door, and told us there was a non-refundable deposit of $35 per person! If each person did not spend that much by the time they left, the bar kept the difference! Although my friends and I have come across other examples of rip off joints in Astana before, this tended to be in night clubs that were desperate to exude an exclusive rich night clubber clientele image. Certainly not in bars that were absolutely empty, and were aware that a few dozen ex-pats were about to watch a football match, spend a fair amount (when this was a voluntary option!) and most likely praise/condemn the venue to friends!
Anyway, the bar itself looked nice enough (the lobsters in the fish tank seemed to be mouldy/furry though!), and whilst the uncompromising/care free attitude of the manager was nothing unusual for customer service levels in Kazakhstan, the fact that when the original reservations were made, a completely different figure and set up was explained (by senior staff/the manager) compared to what we were confronted with on the day, meant I can’t recommend this place unless your company is footing the bill. Check the second link for some more shots from flickr of the venue to avoid in Astana, Kazakhstan.
We eventually went on to a German style pub/bar about a kilometre or two away, where the service was slow but friendly, there was no minimum spend, and the beers were cheaper. Obviously England lost (we were robbed of a goal, but not the match to be fair), and our German friends seemed more than happy with the result (“Justice – 44 years late” referring to yesterday’s vs. 1966’s infamous ball crossing/not crossing the goal line)!

I just wanted to clarify one point – having to pay some sort of deposit for sitting at a table isn’t that uncommon over here. Being told one (reasonable) price only to find a more expensive charge being attempted at the very last minute (bait & switch) hasn’t happened to me before. Perhaps I’m just being naïve, or don’t sit down that often when drinking, but it just seemed like a con, or at the very least really short sighted business sense. The place was dead, a mere 30 minutes before kick off, and losing the good will of so many potential customers & positive word of mouth advertisers seemed ridiculous.

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Jun 27 2010

ENG vs DEU – Robbed of a goal,…

Category: Eating Out,Sport,TweetsChrisM @ 11:10 pm

ENG vs DEU – Robbed of a goal, but not the match. If you’re in Astana, avoid Royal Betting Sports Club, next to Kings Hotel. Info to follow.

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Jun 25 2010

While there is still a little …

Category: Eating Out,Pictures,TweetsChrisM @ 10:09 pm

While there is still a little bit of light left, here is an exterior shot of Goal Keeper. http://twitpic.com/1zukwh

Goal Keeper, Astana, Kazakhstan

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Jun 15 2010

Enforced Lock In

Category: Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 12:51 am

We had an interesting time watching the England vs USA football match on Saturday. A few friends came over to the flat pre-game, to warm up our drinking arms. We moved onto a bar (I think it is called Goal Keeper?), where power cuts meant we missed the American goal, and after the power flicking on and off for a while, we tried to leave the bar and head to the Hotel Radisson (as they were more likely to have a generator). However, the security guards had locked the front doors before we could leave, and were telling people to go back into the bar and wait, as electricity would return. Before we made complete idiots of ourselves with people holding batons, the owner appeared, apologised (I think she realised locals might take that kind of brute force attempt to keep customers, but ex-pats would throw a hissy fit and tell their friends, and therefore she could lose business).
So we left, but getting into our designated driver’s car we noticed someone had forgotten their top. He went back in, I hung around outside to start banging on the doors and windows if they didn’t let him out. This time some locals were caught trying to leave without paying, and the guards were literally throwing them back into the bar. Our friend got out, we went on to the hotel, and although they also had power cuts, they didn’t last as long. Obviously the match ended in a draw (I would have won 16,000 Tenge if England had managed to score one more goal!), but given that we had both Americans and Brits in our group, I suppose it was a fair enough score to keep all parties happy. I’ll leave commentary on the actual football played to other more knowledgeable people.

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Jun 13 2010

Interesting night watching Eng…

Category: TweetsChrisM @ 1:55 am

Interesting night watching England v USA match so far. Power cut hitting parts of Astana. Moved to Radisson. Accidentally bet 2-1 to England

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Oct 14 2009

Kazakhstan vs. Croatia

Category: Friends,Personal,SportChrisM @ 6:07 pm

I am off to watch the Kazakhstan vs. Croatia match this evening, in Astana’s new football stadium. It will be the first proper match I’ve attended in about, oh, 20-odd years ?!? Thanks to DanD and his friend for invite and sorting the tickets ahead of time. Looking at predictions on the net, most think it will be an easy win for Croatia, though a couple of people thought that Kazakhstan had a slim chance of at least a draw. Will try and grab some photos/tweet if I remember.

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