Just a quick addition to the last blog. We had our first vehicle issue, the driver window fell out of its seating. This was not too much of a problem until we drove in to a section of dunes with no plants. Unfortunately there was a small sand storm going on at the time, so the vehicle is now full of sand. The window is now fine, but everything we eat is now full of sand which is nice.
So back to this blog. After the camp where I managed to get us stuck on top of a dune, we got up early and headed towards the reailway line, the only land mark for miles around. Just before we got there, going up the final dune , we noticed a small puncture in the back right tyre. So we now had a tyre with no air in at all and were on sand, so no easy jacking ground.
This was made worse by us having noticed the day before that a vital pin had fallen out of the High Lift Jack. However the piece of screwdriver that was embedded in our tyre fitted perfectly.
In the end though we managed to get the bottle jack under the axle resting on a sand ladder and we had the wheel changed in no time. This was all for the benefit of two railway workers who found it hilarious, and then helped us across the tracks, with Roxanne eating up the bumps.
We continued without incident to Aral. This was not actually the desired destination, but the Ship Cemetery we were aiming for turned out to be about 200Km away from the marking on the map; we are getting used to our rubbish map now. While trying to get the tyre mended we were all around the back of the vehicle getting the spare tyre off the back door while some pikey leant in the window and stole my phone. Next stop police station. This was a fairly surreal experience with the three of us having tea and biscuits with the police commissioner while they sorted me a police report (via an interpreter whom they dragged off the street). This took a while, but the tea was great and we found out how to get to the ships.
Having headed out of town that night we camped on the top of the old cliffs. It was rather strange because it looked very obviously like there should be a sea there, but instead we got a strong wind buffeting our tents all night. Odd thing about Kazakhstan that – the weather seems to come out at night, and the air’s in a hurry to get somewhere.
In the morning we tracked down the beached ships, although they’re all being pillaged for scrap, so there aren’t many left now, and none of them is intact. Still, it added to the list of surreal things we’d seen!
Somehow we managed to get another puncture down there, so popped back into Aral to get it sorted before getting back on the road and heading towards the 50th again. We filled up the tank at a forlorn looking station at the edge of town and David got a nice diesel shower from the very drunk attendant, it probably actually made him a bit cleaner though. Our aims for tomorrow are to get back on 50 degrees and have a wash (neither of which has happened for a little while now.)
Playing on the iPod: “Swing Life Away” by Rise Against Police stop count: 16 (plus tea with the Police Commissioner!)
P.S. Iain you little tinker! We were wondering how we’d find out the cricket scores, keep the updates coming! D