Here I was sitting being fascinated by the atmosphere of the harbor in the night. Somehow I love this atmosphere when I am in the middle of nowhere or a total stranger in this place. There is something exciting about being lost. I was a bit tired and hungry but excited about the coming adventure in Kazakhstan.
Before midnight I arrived to the port by bus and by walking. This trade port is around 60km out of Baku in the middle of nowwhere. Here I found a boat which could take me over the Caspian Sea from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan.
Except a few truckers and some officers there was nothing really going on in the harbor.
My boat to Kazakhstan should take a bit less than 2 days crossing the Caspian Sea.
The way into the ship.
I noticed what it means to be on a container boat…
Romantic of cold steel and smell of oil, yet I was impressed…
This trip was a great adventure for me. I was the only passenger and it felt like a dream is coming true for me. Being on my way on the open sea with a cargo ship.
When I set foot on Kazakh ground after almost two days I immediately felt that this will be a new chapter on my trip. I am in Central Asia now – to be more precise in a little harbor city called Aktau in the remote west of Kazakhstan. When I walked out of the harbor I had the feeling that I am so far away from home home now. Europe was far away and you could see this in the Asian looks of the people. There were absolutely no traces of trourists and I had no idea about what would happen here…
Arrival in Aktau, Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan is a huge country with one of the lowest density of population – especially in the west there is almost nothing but steppe. It will be rough and remote. There were almost 4000km ahead of me. I was determind to hitchhiked them all the way from west to east through the endless steppe and uninhabited territory. Honestly, I didn’t feel comfortable at all thinking about hitchhiking into this wild nothingness. Yet in the same time I was fascinated by the wide and unknow steppe.
I would meet with Russian tradition and unexpected hospitality on the way as well as live life with Kazakh truck drivers. I walk out of the city and put my thumb out.
During the first day I was warned several times not to camp in the steppe. There would be snakes and spiders, jakals and wolves.
The next day I met Eldar. He was a really lucky shot. I was going all the way from Aktau to Astana. On this several day drive he slept in the hotel where his sister was working and at some friends places. For me this meant that I had a lift including accomodation and food.
Eldar invited me to some local Russian „banya“ (Russian sauna) and to his friends place
It was quite perfect, yet I had the feeling it would be too easy. So I discussed with Eldar to meet again in Astana and continued alone again. The next few days were exhausting and unnerving. I hitchhiked the whole day and in the night I put up my tent in the steppe. Low comfort and all the time on the road.
I slept in my tent, in the steppe, and the edge of some city or at some local’s house.
Hitchhiking in Kazakhstan was somehow special for me. It was the first time that I was hitchhiking such a long distance without a break.
One afternoon Sergej stopped with his truck. That’s how I ended up staying for three days with the trucker Sergej and his fellow Mikhail. We cooked together, ate, and slept together in the truck. I experienced and learnt a lot about the real trucker life in Kazakhstan. We only talked in Russian and sometimes I really had enough of it.
Always having tea (chai)
beer in the evening
A city called Qostanai near the Russian border
After 8 days I was really exhausted. The last 100km I decided to go with another car since Sergej didn’t go into the city. So before dusk I stood at the street just thinking about some nice shower and nice bed! Yet after a few minutes it started to rain and nobody wanted to pick me up. After one hour it was getting dark and I still stood there in the rain…
When a family picked me up I was so happy and grateful. The mother asked me where I wanted to stay tonight. When I said I will find a hostel she offered me to stay at their „hostel“. Did they really have a hostel?! They seemed really nice people and they had a quite new car so I decided to give it a try and see what happens..
Yet what was waiting there for me was really not what I expected. They led me to a really shabby old house. The bathroom and the toilets were for the whole building and several families and their anouncement about their special „hostel room“ was frightening me now. The son led me through the diry corridor to another room outside of their flat. This room shocked me even more. There were already two guys with naked upper body looking at me. They looked confused yet they were not saying anything. When I was about to put off my shoes the son said „No, no! Don’t put off your shoes! It’s so dirty you cannot put them off here!“ It smelt like fat and a cowhouse. Appearently they were also cooking here. I felt bad and the smell was the worst. I also didn’t know who these guys were. I don’t think they were actually members of the family.
I was really already running on empty and then this was happening. „I will go to a hostel!“, I was thinking. I don’t know how I managed to overcome myself and stay the night here. Eyes closed and press on…
The next morning I walked to the next hostel and justed needed two days of rest. Unbelieveable how nice a warm shower and a normal bed can feel… I noticed how you get used to comfort and how quickly you appreciate it again!