Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Bus - Week of 19 - 23 October 2009

So, Astana does not have a subway system. I usually shy away from buses--they can be so confusing, demanding exact change and requiring that you know ahead of time where your stop is. Buses in Astana are not like that. With Christie's guidance, I have come to love the buses in Astana. Sure, they can be dirty and crowded. But they are easy to use, and cheap. A ride costs 60 Tenge--less than 50 cents--and elementary-school-aged children and younger are free.

The buses I have been on have stopped at every stop, so no worries about not ringing for my stop ahead of time. There is an attendant on the bus who walks around and collects the money; he or she always has change. I have yet to need help, but I have a feeling I could ask the attendant if I needed help finding a stop (if, for example, I was going somewhere I haven't been before.)

I've copied Christie, and I have written down the bus numbers for important destinations. Buses 4 and 14 go to the school. Bus 14 in the other direction goes to Sulpack, a grocery store, Eurasia, the shopping complex where we bought the hamster, and Artyom, a large shopping complex/bazaar that I haven't been to, but where I would change buses to go to the huge Central Bazaar.

Bus 2 will take me to church; Bus 3 will take me to Ramstore, a supermarket that is nice but more expensive than the closer ones. It's close enough to walk to, also.

Bus 35 will take me to Mega Center, a somewhat expensive shopping complex (I haven't been there.)

Sophia likes riding the bus--anything is better than walking for her. We've started taking the bus to school in the mornings. It's easier than forcing her to walk. It comes at about 8:15 and 8:25, so if we leave early enough, we get to school by 8:30, which is nice. Technically teachers are supposed to be there by 8:30; however, I've run in at 9:00 (start of the first lesson) before and so have other teachers. I think 8:45 is the time they realistically expect us there by. So the 8:25 bus gets us there by 8:45

Usually Bus 4 and Bus 14 arrive one behind the other; usually Bus 4 is crowded and Bus 14 is not. So we usually get on Bus 14. Both go the same route to the school from our stop--down our street, left on another big street, past the US Embassy and then stopping at the pyramid, one of the many new architectural structures. Most of the people get off the bus at the pyramid, so there must be some businesses around. Then it does a U-turn and passes a tall monument/pillar with an eagle on top (eagles are the symbol of Kazakhstan) and then turns right onto the street that leads to the school. It does another U-turn right before the school, and we get off just a short walk from the school.

U-turns are very popular around here.

It's a nice ride, it's cheap, and it keeps Sophia happy.

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