Thursday, February 7, 2013

Shymkent - the Airport

Our school has a four-day weekend this weekend; the idea behind it is so people can go skiing.  This weekend coincided with my friend's daughter's ice skating competition in Shymkent (southern Kazakhstan), and I leapt at the chance to visit another part of Kazakhstan.

Trains to Shymkent take about 20 hours, so we chose to fly.  We had a choice--Air Astana or Scat Airlines.  At that point I had never heard of Scat, but I had flown and enjoyed Air Astana, and I trust them safety-wise.

The day after we booked our tickets for Air Astana, a Scat Airlines flight from northern Kazakhstan to Almaty crashed and killed 22 people.  I was so relieved that we had chosen Air Astana!

The flight is only 2 hours, but Air Astana made sure to feed us sandwiches and Kit-Kat candy bars.  I love Air Astana.

When we arrived, we exited the plane to a bus, which took us to a one-room building marked "Tranzit Hall."  Inside, we saw a sign for luggage, and we waited in a large crowd for a few minutes before we were directed back outside.  Our luggage was brought here and left for us to sort.  Outside a one-room building.

Where was the airport?

I think it's important to mention that wikipedia lists Shymkent as the 3rd-largest city in Kazakhstan, we weren't traveling to some tiny, middle-of-nowhere town.

We got our luggage, walked through the one-room building and exited it, and found a taxi driver amongst the many men standing there calling out, "Taxi!" A ride to our hotel would cost 2000 Tenge, which greatly surprised us, since that is the cost in Astana to travel from the airport to the city.  We'd thought it would be cheaper here.

It was dark, and as we walked to the car, I looked behind.  There did seem to be a slightly larger building, not attached to the Tranzit Hall we'd come through.  Perhaps that's the airport?

Strangest airport I've been in yet....

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