Mattyrau Episode II: Attack of the Smurfs
21 July 2002
Better flight, better customs experience (at least for me); even so, it's not an enjoyable voyage
Trepidation on the return: Smurfs
Smuggled out currency and coins last time (5,800 tenge-ish) just because we were told we shouldn't (what about all the rotation people that come and go?)
Carried only nine CDs in my small case, I had to count them in front of the customs guy... but I also had one in the CD Player, plus one in the laptop = 11; still "pulled one over" on them! Some things just have to be done.
Almaty, bigger, better?
Attila the Bus
Big hats; vodka on the breath
Pictures in the lobby: Rivers/water/ Paris/Egypt
Strange: Cooler, windier; much better than the heat of a week earlier.
But now: nobody's at the river! Better weather and folks head indoors? Huh?
Turns out: Cholera outbreak in the river
Amusement park 50 tenge admission plus tickets to ride (250 each): Disco Fantasy closed because of a private party; go-kart racing (American gets two rides, big to-do and ordeal; 4 cars down to 3); rollercoaster; outdoor disco
Mustang (1,000 tenge cover): high school dance meets night club; Gorillaz/Pink/Shakira (Wherever, Whenever in English, later in Spanish?); lots of British club music (or so I think)
Russian disco: Inspiring, per Dillaro
Taxi Driver: Big, bulky fat man; when we arrived at the Chagala, he wanted 1,000 tenge instead of the normal 300; he justified the charge by saying we didn't ask how much before we left. He made an ultimatum: Pay or he takes us back. We told him to take us back. On the way back, he threatens to have his friends beat us up for not paying. Midway back, we wound up paying. Upon our return to the Chagala, I glared at the man through the window and slammed the door a good one. It wasn't until the next morning that I found out he made the threat of beating us up. Sheesh. Sounds like Amsterdam!
Red Letter Day: 20 July: Purchased Mattopia.com domain
More on shorts: Men don't like them; worn in Almaty
Full life here in Atyrau, meets lots of interesting people at work and hangs out with them, talks. Not so much the case in The Hague. Already lived there a year, so it's not quite as exciting to be going back. Never heard of Smurfs. Shopping: Marketplace a mishmash of stones, dirt, concrete, blocks; ladies trying on shoes get a shoebox lead to put their feet/new shoes; Toy department features a collection of large stuffed animals and assorted bits, along with knock-off Batman figures and other oddities, including an old, sun-bleached "Smurf piano" that was clearly a knockoff (yellow Smurfs?!). Aged and broken.
Food market is in a mini-hangar, lively place; smells good
Sunday lunch: Love Hurts, tried to explain to hostess the song kept repeating, got nowhere; dinner: Boyzone's version of the Lloyd Webber smash hit, "No Matter What"
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