Thursday, March 28, 2013

To Karaganda via train

 Saturday, 23 March 2013

My friend needed to go to Karaganda, and it was my spring break, so I said, as usual, why not?  I've been to Karaganda three times before, and have really enjoyed it every time.

We planned on driving; however, on Saturday we learned that the roads were icy so we decided to take a train. We left at 3:30 pm, and it was a 4-hour train ride. Tickets were about 2000 Tenge each one way (children half price), so in the end it probably was cheaper than driving, considering gas prices.

It was the same kind of train as we've taken to Almaty before, not the nice new ones, but a nice layout—we had a small room with two sets of bunkbeds. We were next to the bathroom and somebody most likely had peed on the carpet in the small corridor, and it stunk like urine. Not a good smell to have to deal with for four hours.

The bathroom in the train stunk so bad I almost threw up when I used it. I promise you, I've had better experiences on trains in Kazakhstan.  (Update:  Our train ride back, on Wednesday, 27 March, was similar in layout and looks to this train, but seemed cleaner overall and smelled much nicer, bathrooms included.  There's also an electric train that goes between Astana and Karaganda that's nice and clean; however it wasn't available at the time we wanted.)

We slept most of the way and arrived at 7:30 pm. We asked around for taxis, but they said 700 Tenge, which was how much we had paid in Astana, for a much longer trip. We were walking distance to our hotel, but we had luggage and didn't want to walk.

So we went to the bus stop and asked a person waiting if the bus would take us where we were going. He said yes, so we got on. The bus was very crowded.

When the ticket-collector saw our luggage, she asked what all this luggage was doing there. She and my friend proceeded to get into an argument, where she asked my friend why she had all this luggage, this was an inter-city bus, and was she crazy? To which my friend responded, are you crazy. (Sadly, I did not understand this conversation, but my friend told me about it later.) Which had me wondering why an inter-city bus that stops at a train station should expect to not get people with luggage...

Two stops later, we got off and walked the short distance to our hotel. We checked in and then went to the next-door mall and ate in the restaurant Charlotka, which is on the 2nd floor and very nice.

Finally, we went to bed, with plans for church and shopping the next day.
View from the train as we neared Karaganda

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