Day Three In Kazakhstan

Day three started a little rough. I was feeling a little discomfort as I sat in Almaty Airport for eight hours waiting to fly to Ust-Kamenogorsk; families were talking to one another as they travelled, most were speaking Russian. The announcements over the telecom were in Russian, but once in a while they would say something in English. The bell rangs, ding-dong- ding, and then a woman with a very nice voice says something, and all kinds of people get up and move to their gate. Then the bell would ring again ding, dong, ding. All the while I am waited for eight hours until my flight would be ready.

As I sat here, I thought about a song by the Doors, People Are Strange:

People are strange when you’re a stranger
Faces look ugly when you’re alone
Women seem wicked went your unwanted
Streets are uneven when you’re down

There are a couple of people that have spoke English to me which has been nice, but just like all of my other trips conversing with people when I don’t know the language of a country is tough. When you are travelling alone, there is no one else to help with the conversation. I do know, and it was confirmed by Daniel, people from the old Soviet Union do not embrace in conversation, they think leave them alone and they will leave you alone. I have heard it called the Moscow Subway Look. Look in front of you not at people.

As I sat there I thought about those who move to the United States and don’t know English. I thought about how we need to be a bit more sensitive, and help them learn English as quickly as possible. However, I also thought we Americans need to learn a few more languages. Many in Europe know several languages, and I happen to think that is good. In fact, when I get to Ust-Kamenogorsk I am going to start practicing my Russia. I had learned some words in Russia years ago, but those are long gone.

The total trip took three days, due to time changes and layovers; however going home will only be two days, a night’s stay in Almaty, and a three-hour layover in Amsterdam. My time in the air was about 16 hours; then add a seven-hour and eight-hour layover, you have a total of 31 hours to get to the other side of the world. Just think, I am truly on the other side of the world, thirteen-hour time difference.

When I landed in Ust-Kamengorski I was met by friendly faces. Daniel Ballast, and two professors I had met when they came to the United States (Yulia and Ilona), met me at the airport. It was very nice to see friendly faces. They were so nice, and took me to my hotel. Yulia and Ilona wanted to take me to town, but I was so tired I asked if it could be another time. I am sure with my work at the University for the next few days I will see them.

I made it here, which is the furthest I’ve ever traveled, and now after resting for a night, I slept well, it is time to get going. I am going to go out for a walk this morning, and then Daniel will join me for breakfast at 9am. I have students coming by at 10am to take me to downtown festivities. The holiday Kazakhstan is celebrating is Nauryz, a celebration of Spring. I’ll let you know how that goes.

I will tell you a funny story. The last leg of my trip yesterday was a short flight over some of the most desolate areas I have ever observed. Beautiful jagged mountains and snow covered valleys. Sitting across the aisle from me were two gorgeous young ladies. I mean they were very pretty, and very into makeup. The guy sitting next to me could not take his eyes off of them. The only problem was his wife and daughter had the two seats in front of us. She definitely noticed, and after we landed, and were waiting for our luggage, the nonverbal language was very clear. The guy sitting next to me on the plane was probably going to be in the sobach’ya budka. You’ll have to look that up with Google Translator.

And that is my thought for the day!


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