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07 Sep, 2009

Almaty: Part Two

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

The next day our first mission was the find a travel agency. I found one close to the hotel through our Lonely Planet travel bible and proceeded in that direction. However, like half the information in the guide this info was outdated and the travel agency no longer existed, at least in the location listed in the book. No worries though as we passed another travel agency while looking for the first one. We walked into Daphne Travel and asked about available train and flight schedules. Luckily some of the staff there spoke good English, which always makes things a bit easier for us that don’t speak such great Russian/Kazakh. They checked the train schedules online but came up with no additional information that could help us out. As far as flights, there were a number of flights outbound for Almaty but no direct flights to the capital of Mongolia. Apparently nobody ever went to Mongolia, because it was darn hard trying to get from anywhere to there! Our only option was to fly from Almaty to Moscow or Beijing and then take another flight from there to Ulaanbaatar. The cost of these flights would be in the $700-$800 range and they weren’t available anytime soon. Alternately, they had a sub-$500 ticket available on the 4th of September back to London.


05 Sep, 2009

Almaty: Part One

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

We slept in on Monday and set off about the city in the early afternoon. We needed to develop a plan of action–we were running out of money and time. We needed to find a way to get to Ulaanbaatar soon. I figured that our best option from here would be to take a train to Russia and then hitch a ride on the Trans-Siberian Express towards Irkutsk and then south to Mongolia. It would take a bit of time, and wouldn’t be inexpensive, but it seemed like a good way to see the scenery in a similar way to what we had hoped to do (and it was less of a cop-out than flying). The problem was that our Russian visas, which still had an additional unused entry on them, expired in two days. We had to head to the Russian Consulate, on the other side of town, to extend our visas.