one in nine hundred thousand

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When I woke up I felt very tired. It had indeed been a noisy night. The restaurant was open 24/7, and there were always patrons who came in late at night for some tea and some snacks.

Still, I was happy about every single night I didn’t have to spend outside.

I walked for a little while, then I ran into Ablay with his horse, his dog and his herd of sheep and cattle:

Ablay

We chatted for a little while, and I never could quite figure out why he didn’t like to smile on photos:

with Ablay

He seemed like a nice guy though.

And I was happy about every nice person I met, because the morning sky looked pretty dramatic:

morning sky

So dramatic that I gave the Caboose her rain cover that I had bought for her in Almaty:

Caboose in rain mode

Then the sky cleared up:

And when it did and I was just sitting down to have some bread and eggs, this guy called Rachat appeared on his motorcycle:

Rachat

He stayed for a chat, and just like Abay before him he also didn’t like to smile on pictures.

Hm, I thought, maybe this is a cultural thing of this particular area. Men don’t smile on photos!

So I tried it, too. And it really worked:

with Rachat

No smiles, all seriousness.

All class.

Shortly after that, I reached a checkpoint that was situated about 50km before the border:

pre-border checkpoint

The border guards were young, and they seemed to be very bored. They kept shooting questions at me.

Where was I going.
Where was I from.
Why did I not have a bicycle.
What was the Caboose.
What was in the Caboose.
Why did I not have a car.
What kind of camera did I have.
How much had that camera cost.

At some point one of them demanded to see one of my cameras. I handed it to him, upon which he jokingly asked what would happen if he dropped it.

Haha, funny.

He then went on to point the lens in all directions and take pictures.

Much to my surprise, he took a photo of me that I ended up liking quite a bit:

photo taken by checkpoint guard

Thank you, bored checkpoint guard!

There was some kind of monument next to the checkpoint:

monument

But a drunk old man appeared from behind it and started blabbering in my direction, so I decided to not stick around.

I was back in the mountains again, so I needed whatever strength I had:

There was not much up there.

One time I saw a little shop that claimed to be open 24/7:

24/7 shop

One time I saw a Soviet monument, the first one I had seen in Kazakhstan:

Soviet monument

And one time I saw a German gas pump:

German gas pump

It was apparently out of order.

Besides that, it was just steep uphill slopes:

Korday pass

Uphill slopes for about 10km, during which I gained about 500m in altitude:

uphill slope

Then I was at the top.

I sat down and had a bottle of ice-tea that I had been saving for this moment.

There was a grave nearby:

grave

It was almost six in the evening. The sun would be gone within one hour, and I needed a place to sleep.

I passed by a house, but it didn’t look very inviting:

house with truck

So I kept going.

I quickly learned to regret this decision. There was nothing up there on Korday pass, and the sun was setting quickly:

dusk on the pass

I found a place that was a bit out of sight from the road. There didn’t seem to be any snakes around:

camp site

So I set up camp there:

For some reason I was very scared of wolves that night. Not so much of snakes. Not so much of the cold.

But of wolves.

Still, I had a nice dinner of canned beans and canned corn.

Then I lay down in the tent and set up the camera outside to catch a bit of that night sky:

night sky

If you want to see it moving, look at this short clip I patched together:

Now what I didn’t know at that time was that I wouldn’t have to worry about wolves. And not about snakes either. Nor about the cold.

But about those clouds you can see in the video.

For they kept coming and piling up above Korday pass, and when they had all come together at about three at night they decided to turn into a big fat thunderstorm.

I woke up because I heard thunder coming near, and because the inside of the tent turned white from lightning ever so often:

And I was scared.

They say the average person’s chance of getting struck by lightning isn’t one in a million. It’s one in nine hundred thousand.

But I figured this ratio would probably go up substantially should one decide to camp out on a high plateau during a thunderstorm.

I was so scared.



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