Our Team from Auto Bild India had now been on the road for a week. This is the concluding part of their drive through Russia and as the further move on to experience Kazakhstan.
On eighth night the GLA team took a night halt at Ufa, a non-descript town where our team had to search three hours for hotel rooms and were reminded of the a bumpy ride on Mumbai roads as drove around town. The town of Ufa may not have impressed them much, but the road on the east leading to the border of Kazakhstan made up for the loss. A Straight road, with its wavy rise and fall, piercing a thick forest of pine trees covered with thin layers of ice, giving the dark greens a white tint, made for a beautiful drive.
As the Team reached the Ural region, they found it strange that there was no sign that declared where Europe ends and Asia begins. As they traveled through Ural region the GLA members reached Chelyabinsk, last decent place before Kazakhstan. Occasionally referred to as the entry point to Siberia, the city is a gloomy industrial town covered with shades of grey all over the sky, the streets, the buildings.
The immigration experience before they crossed over to Kazakhstan was much quicker than their previous experiences. Interestingly, the nimbu-mirchi hanging in the car, which is the traditional Indian remedy to ward off all evil, caught fancy of a inquisitive Russian Police Officer. They spent less than and hour at immigration and were on their way from Russia to Kazakhstan with just 200km more to their next destination, Kostany.
Kostany was another non descript town and didn’t offer our Team of Adventurers anything interesting to explore except for a night long snow fall that buried their Mercedes Benz GLA under a layer of snow. The next morning they took off early from Kostany to Astana.
We learned from our team that Kazakhstan is the largest land locked country. It’s barren for as far as the eye can see with only a line of shrubbery covered under a blanket of snow most of the year to offer anything scenic. Blessed with great roads, the team zipped through this region. Along the way, they spotted some tribal inhabitants and nomadic wild horses who freely roam the countryside even in sub-zero temperatures.
The tenth day was spent exploring Astana, capital of Kazakhstan that has completely transformed itself since it became the capital in 1997. The Bayterek tower marks the beginnings of this transformation which is now witnessing all old buildings from the Soviet era being replaced by modern Architectural Marvels. Located at the center of the town, the Bayterek Towers is 97 meter high tower and gives a eagle’s view of the city from one of the two observation decks on it. This tower, was personally designed and given the shape of a poplar tree holding a golden egg by the then president.
From Astana the team cruised on to a beautiful Highway to reach their next destination, Almaty by night fall. They are still in Kazakhstan and plan to reach next country in another couple of days. Stay Tuned for Part 3.
(A Team at Auto Bild India set out on an adventurous trip driving cross continent in a Mercedes Benz GLA. Their aim – to travel from Germany to India by road. At Krimson Kraft, we are proud to have been associated with this journey as their official travel partners. This is second in a series of blogs that will capture highlights of this Great Overland Adventure, as it was called. You could read a detailed account of this adventurous journey on the links below.)