We woke up, packed up, had some tea, took a picture with granny, and headed off.
The day may have been uneventful and nothing really happened but it was still never a moment of boredom between wailing out to Disney for hours and doing crosswords.
We ate a watermelon in the car which was a feat on its own between feeding justin and spitting the seeds out the window while bouncing around like a pinball on the craptastic roads. Justin then, all too eagerly, threw the whole carcass out of the window to watch it explode as it hit the ground. What a child.
The only thing worthy of noting is we were now on the main route for 90% of the ralliers, so not only did we pass by a number of slow chugging-along teams, but locals finally got their answers to why they've been seeing ridiculously dumb cars all decked out with stickers for the last few weeks. Not a single one of them understood why we were doing this and why we didn't just stay home, let alone in a stupid car that as a local they would never dream of driving on these roads, but they were all in awe and loved hearing all about it. And, of course, our story isn't a boring one.
A gas station attendant gifted us local candies, and people rounded up wanting to sign the car everywhere we stopped.
The evening brought us to the city of Semey - world's largest nuclear test site. The soviets thought it was a great idea to test everything on land here, underground, as well as in the air. So everything is contaminated and the rate of birth defects is still ridiculously high (1 in 20). To avoid growing a third arm, eye, or cancer, we opted to not eat or drink anything in town which left us going to bed quite hungry since we couldn't make a campfire to cook.
Although we were wondering why people choose to live here knowing the risks, it was a beautiful city, gotta give it that. One of the bigger ones in Kazakhstan we've driven through, actually, and quite modern.
We had to stop at a train track and justin for so excited. He got out of the car as was ready with his arm up to get the conductor to choo choo. So many cars were lined up probably wondering wtf he is doing, and it was a long wait for the train to actually come. It turned out to be one locomotive, and we could've crossed the tracks at least 20 times both ways by the time it actually came. Justin was SO let down, it was hilarious.
It wouldn't be Kazakhstan if the roads were good, and they had not gotten better in the city. On the way into a gas station, there was a gap where the road was randomly torn up and dropped about 3-4 inches. In the dark Justin didn't notice it and we got an instant flat. It was a bad one - Justin spent quite a while hammering the rim back into shape. We also took the opportunity to rotate it with the rear tire which has taken less abuse over the weeks. This way if anything happens to the damaged front tire, we would still be able to steer and control the car. After an hour of dealing with this, out of spite for the stupid gas station to get its shit together and fix the road, we didn't give them our business and went on looking for another one 100m down the road. Making a statement, that's us.
We drove around all evening trying to find somewhere to exchange currency as we would be hitting the border in the morning. But, again, it wouldn't be Kazakhstan if the signs were accurate. 24 hour exchange places with huge signs emphasizing 24 hours... with a sign on the door saying they'll be back at 8 in the morning. We gave up after checking out 6 places.
We noted the city had a ridiculous amount of limos everywhere. Also there were guards at every intersection; there would be 3 guys standing tightly back to back everywhere. Must get rowdy on a Sunday night....
We camped out by a restaurant where we really felt like circus animals. People have gaped and watched us everywhere we've been, but the workers here were literally within arm's reach of the trunk and watched us climb right into bed and close the door. They were beyond baffled by the trip and couldn't wrap their heads around any of this from where we were going and why, to sleeping in the car, to even leaving home to begin with, let alone for 2 months.
Off to bed super nervous awaiting morning's verdict on whether we get into Russia.