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August 25th 2007
Published: October 5th 2007
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The border crossing between Siberia and Kazakhstan was easy, no major problems, We drove into the city of Semey to register ourselves, the registration is a bit complicated, it would take hours to do and the forms have to be filled up in Cyrillic Russian. I thought it was ridiculous, as we copy the Cyrillic letters from Sasha's form, we don't understand a thing. While waiting for all this bureaucracy to finish our cook group shopped, we could not find eggs somehow nobody sells them or may have already ran out of it cause it's late afternoon.The fruits are expensive, the guy was saying this melon from Tajikistan or from Uzbekistan, trying to justify the steep price tags. The apples though are quite cheap and very delicious, The vendors are so friendly they gave us samples of their fruit even if we are not going to buy any, and love to have their photos taken. We bought some pasties type thing and it was delicious, i think I had three. We also got a chance to internet and change money. Then we drove just outside the city, had a pee stop then moments later settled somewehere to camp, it's near a lake, lots of mosquitoes, we gathered firewood and cooked our food. The next morning we head towars the city of Ust-Kamenogorsk to do more food shopping, this city looks a little bit more progressive and seem to have a lot of Russian population. We bush camped about 50 kms from town, Sasha does not know the name of the place but it was a beautiful find, near a marshy lake. I immediately set up my tent and went to wash my clothes in the lake, it was a bit reedy at the bottom but the water is clean. Then I had a swim with Andy and Amy, it was very refreshing. The next day we did packed lunch and we can do whatever we want, some strated hiking toward the top of hills and mountains, i opted to explore the rock outcrops directly behind our camp. The grass are tall and dry so it hurts to tod on them as the spikey bits cling to your socks and prick you, I managed to get to the top of the rocks but with a lot of work, I was by myself, and I felt a bit worried because the rocks are steep and slippery, if I fall no one can help me, so I went around and found an easier path, the top of the outcrops are flat and grassy, huge boulders, some as big as a 2 storey building. Did this hike for maybe 4 hours, then walked back to camp to chill out, I decided to do laundry again and have a swim, Lynn told me later that she and Nancy were wading in the water and saw a snake swimming towards them, thank god I did not see it, I have a thing against these creatures, they scare me.Our next camp is in Lake Alakol. It was a very long drive, the camp site very flat, and the soil is mixed with salt deposits from constant evaporation of moisture in the soil. There is a small hut next to our camp the owner came to investigate us, seem very friendly, offered some drinks and cured fish, it seems though that it's still raw so Tony put it in the oven for a bit and it tasted delicious fully cooked, the man is a fisherman who come there seasonally to fish in the water and rest of the year

goes back to town, I think everyone in the are does the same thing, the road getting to this location has a number of oeple slling fish on the side of the road, at first we wonder where they got it from, the lake is not visible from the road, it's a bit out of the way. That night was not so cold, just a little breeze but good enough to drive away the mozzies. We stopped at a town called Jangiz Tobe to market shop, there are lots of apples ,plums, nectarines , melons, berries of different varieties. The melons and apples here are the sweetest that I ever had tasted. We had lunch at a kebab place and had a walk around the market area, we went on and drove through the town of Taldy Khorgan, it is quite a big place, lots of modern buildings. We were trying to find a suitable camp site next to river or stream, but we've been driving for a while and could not seem to find one, we got a hill and drove up it, we did a pee stop and was surprise to see lots of wild apples and nectarines growing on the side of the road, I went up some rocks and tried some wild apples quite sour but edible, then we hit jackpot, a cluster of apple trees to the right of the path were thick with fruits we tried each variety until we found one we really like ,a really delicious yellow apple was the winner for me, I filled my pockets, Andy was able to get the bigger fruits cause he is taller, he is usually picky with food but was taken by this delicious variety, he took a few. A few kms. up the road we decided to camp. We are surrounded by fruits all over this is heaven for me. We quickly got things set up, the kitchen being the priority, It was difficult to find a perfect site to tent, surface uneven and rocky, I helped with the dinner preparation, were having burgers, yum. Called it a night early, next morning I took a walk to see what I can find, the apples are hard to reach now, most have already been picked. This area is part of the Zhungar Alatau Mountain and apparently if you follow the road we are in now, you'll end up in Western China. from here we searched for a nice camp site by a lake, we found it but could not figure out how to get there, the the soil is marshy so we have to go around it, we stopped for lunch while Claire and Tony figure out how to get closer to the shore. Success, we found a path and it was a beautiful camp site, there were a number of locals camping there as well. The horses are grazing next to our camp, the camp at closer look is full of rubbish and you have to be careful walking because of numerous broken bottles, that is the only downside, I hope someday the locals will clean it up. This is where Peter will celebrate his birthday, but first up is to have a swim, some folks tried standing up the inner tube that we borrowed from the truck, quite fun watching people fall in silly ways, Tony and Peter I believed were able to stand up for a few seconds. There were also a couple of beer runs to the camp, me doing one. After dinner the party started, I was a bit drunk by then so called it an early night but the rest who were left put on a show, lyp synching, with creative musical instruments, i.e. Doug's horns impersonation using the yellow electric cords, Anne's drumming etc, I have to ask Andy to send me photos to post here. Anyway the next morning we said goodbye to this wonderful place and off to Almaty, civilization yay!!

N.B. I had seen on TV a news report saying they are trying to build casinos in the Kapshaghai area , develop it like Las Vegas style, a playground for the rich and famous of Kazakhstan or Central Asia, it would be nice if they start cleaning up the rubbish by the shores and maybe later on when it becomes a booming city and lake will be full of resorts, I will come back again to see what a difference money can make, for the worse or good, time will only tell right now , I can always say I have been here before it became boomtown for gamblers , I wish them goodluck " Viva Las Kapshaghai!"



Semey (Kazakh: Семей; also transliterated as Semij or Semei, and known by its Imperial Russian name of Semipalatinsk (Семипалатинск)) is a city in Kazakhstan, in the northeastern province of East Kazakhstan, near the border with Siberia, around 1,000 km north of Almaty, and 700 km southeast of the Russian city of Omsk, along the Irtysh River.The first settlement was in 1718 when the Russians built a fort beside the river Irtysh, near a ruined Buddhist monastery. The monastery's seven buildings lent the fort (and later the city) the name Semipalatinsk (Russian meaning Seven Chambered City). The fort suffered frequently from flooding caused by the snowmelt swelling the Irtysh, and in 1778 the fort was relocated 18 km upstream to less flood-prone ground. The small city grew around the fort, largely servicing the river trade between the nomadic peoples of Central Asia and the growing Russian Empire. The construction of the Turkestan-Siberia Railway added to the city's importance, making it a major point of transit between Central Asia and Siberia.In 1949 a site on the steppe 150 km (100 miles) west of the city was chosen by the Soviet atomic bomb programme to be the location for its weapons testing. For decades, Kurchatov -- the secret city at the heart of the test range named for Igor Kurchatov, father of the soviet atomic bomb -- was home to many of the brightest stars of Soviet weapons science. The Soviet Union operated the Semipalatinsk Test Site (STS) from the first explosion in 1949 until 1989; 456 nuclear tests, including 340 underground and 116 atmospheric tests, were conducted there.Semey has suffered serious environmental and health effects from the time of its atomic prosperity: nuclear fallout from the atmospheric tests and uncontrolled exposure of the workers, most of whom lived in the city, have given Semey and neighboring villages high rates of cancer, childhood leukemia, impotence, and birth defects.Modern Semey is a bustling university town with a population nearing 300,000. Its proximity to the border, and the large expatriate scientific community attached to the university and the STS labs, gives Semey a more Russian character than other Kazakh cities.The oblast (oblysy) of Semipalatinsk has been merged with the bigger East Kazakhstan Province oblysy whose capital city is Ös.


Oskemen (Kazakh: Өскемен; also Russian: Усть-Каменогорск or Ust-Kamenogorsk), is the capital of the East Kazakhstan Province. It is served by Ust-Kamenogorsk Airport.Founded in 1720

at the confluence of the Irtysh and Ulba rivers as a fort and trading post named Ust-Kamennaya. In 1868 the city became the capital of the Semipalatinsk Oblast.The city developed into a major mining and metallurgical center during the Soviet period. Mining of non-ferrous metals, especially copper, lead, silver and zinc remain important. It is a center for the construction industry producing manufactured housing and ferroconcrete articles.Under the name of Ust-Kamenogorsk Lock, the highest lock in the world lies in Ablaketka at the end of the dam on the Yrtych river. It has a drop of more than 40m. Since the opening of the 3-Gorges locks, the upper lock of that 5-lock cascade is theoretically at par with this lock, but its full drop shall not be used except in extreme case, while the Ust-Kamenogorsk lock is designed for permanent use at this height.LAKE ALAKOL:Lake Alakol (Озеро Алаколь) is a lake located at 347 m altitude in the Almaty and Shyghyz provinces, east central Kazakhstan, is the northwest extension of the region known as the Dzhungarian Gate. This narrow valley connects the southern uplands of Kazakhstan with arid northwest China. The Dzhungarian Gate is a fault-bounded valley (see vertical line on the image along the southwest side of the lake) where the elevation of the valley floor is between 350-450 m above sea level and the peaks of the Dzhungarsky Alatau range (lower left) reach 4,463 m above sea level. Two, well-defined alluvial fans are visible where mountain streams cut through the faulted landscape (southwest side of lake).Lake Alakol, a salt lake, has a drainage basin of 65,200 km² and receives water periodically from the southerly draining Urdzhar River at the north end of the lake. The surface area of the lake is 2,650 km², and is 54 m deep at its maximum depth, with a volume of 58.6 km³. A swampy, lowland connects the northwest end of Lake Alakol with the lighter-colored Lake Sasykkol (bottom center).The Alakol State Sanctuary has been created to protect the area for the lake is an important breeding and nesting ground for various wetland birds, notably the very rare Relict Gull.Agricultural activity in this arid region is limited to areas where adequate moisture is available, mainly along ephemeral streambeds and in the deltas and alluvial fans.The Bronze Age Alakul culture is situated in the general region of the lake.

LAKE KAPSHAGHAI:A 100km long reservoir formed by a dam on the Ili River near the town of Kapshaghai, 60 km north of Almaty. Many Almaty residents have dachas(country or holiday houses here and the lake has cold fresh water.) it's beaches are on the north shore just past the dam.

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28th July 2011

jangiz tobe in the past
in this city, the local station on a train stopped in 1940 with the Polish deportees to Kazakhstan. Herded and locked in a train for three weeks, went to Lvov, without access to food and water, in inhumane conditions. For this trip they were compelled by force and violence by Soviet authorities to leave their homes, Kazakhstan forced to work hard .. Many died, many have never returned to the country, never regained their freedom. Tobe Jangiz remember in the past, many such people. Not only the Poles.

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