Sunday 6th August - Random rally reunions
Our destination for today was a town in northern Kazakhstan called Oral. We heard the roads would be good so hoped for the best. You never know with these Kazakh roads. One minute they're fantastic, the next there are potholes everywhere. Luckily the roads were fine throughout the day.
We continually came across big lines of trucks that were being escorted by a police vehicle. Fortunately our little Panda was able to muster up enough energy to get around them.
We often don't have much luck with finding somewhere to eat lunch. When you sit in a tiny car all day the main thing you think about is lunch or dinner. Our stomachs were whinging so we turned off the main road and headed toward a small town. It was an incredibly dusty town with dirt roads everywhere. We pulled into what looked like a restaurant. There were plenty of cars out the front. We could hear a lot of music playing so figured there must be a party on or something. We then drove down the Main Street of the town and pulled into another restaurant looking place. No luck there either. Once again some sort of music was playing. On closer inspection it looked like the whole town was in this venue. Then it dawned on us that there must be religious services going on because it was a Sunday. Probably no luck finding any food whatsoever! A tiny supermarket was next to the church service building so we walked in. Not much going in in there but the shop owner was helpful. She tried to show us on a gps where there might be food. A young girl walked into the shop who must have known the woman. The shop owner was telling the girl to find something behind the counter. We left the shop to return to the car. The young girl came running after Haylee and handed her a small book. It was a pocket book with hundreds of English phrases translated into Russian and Kazakh. So incredibly nice of her. She wasn't even asking for anything in return. Haylee ran back to the car and got an Aussie tea towel to give to the young girl. In true Aussie style the girl held the Aussie map on the tea towel upside down.
James bought some cucumbers from the young girl at her small fruit stall. This ended up being our lunch as we drove on to the city of Oral. We're not even kidding when we say that we saw a bunch of shops in Oral called Cum Cum. Quite an interesting city! We booked into a hotel at quite good timing, it's rare for us to arrive in a city before nightfall. What to do?! In the end we just decided to eat in the hotel restaurant. Natalie wasn't feeling too well so it was better to not go venturing into the city.
Following dinner we started messaging a few of the teams we'd caught the ferry with. In a crazy turn of events it just so happened that the English team of four guys we affectionately call 'boy band' were in the same town as us just a few kms down the road. They explained that they couldn't drive on the insane road Team Honeymoon had continued on from Beyneu to Aktobe and turned around. In the end they'd done the same route we had through Atyreu. Brilliant! We invited them to meet us for a drink at our hotel. They ended up booking a room and meeting us at the restaurant. Two hours later we were enjoying a bunch of drinks laughing about the state of Kazakh roads and the lack of Borat looking characters around. The boys told of us their unlucky run in with the police. They'd been drinking on the streets in Beyneu and got taken to a cell at a cop shop. It's illegal to drink out in public; they learnt the hard way. The cops made them cough up some cash then let them off. We decided tomorrow we'd convoy together to Aktobe; the rally is always better with some company!