Fly to: Almaty Kazakhstan
Internal Transfer: Almaty (Kazakhstan) to Karakol (Kyrgyzstan) in minibus (9hrs 30mins)
Karakol, Kyrgyzstan - Inylchek (9hrs) in an Ex-Soviet off road Military Truck
Ex-Soviet military helicopter flight up the Inylchek glacier (35mins)
Visa required: Yes if British for both Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan
Currency:Tenge (Kazakhstan) & Som (Kyrgyzstan)
Time Zone:+6hrs GMT
Day 1, 19/07/08: Tien Shan
The teams' assembly in the Heathrow terminal was discreet; the ginormous, Everest-ready mountaineering boots went relatively unnoticed amongst the surrounding flipflop & sandel brigade. One of us however was conspicuous by his absence; our guide had earlier received a call from our missing member, apparently he had pulled off the motorway with chronic food poisoning & debilitating sickness (hint: when in doubt opt for the veggie Dona Kebab!). This meant that he would be unable to join the rest of the team in Kyrgyzstan; unfortunate as this trip was to be an integral step in his preparation for Everest. The team's general consensus though was that he had simply 'bottled it!'
As we boarded the plane it was quickly apparent that we were the only adults (bar two stroppy teachers, one of which looked like Miss Piggy personified!) on the flight. Turns out the Kazakhstan Government invest heavily in the learning of their school kids & therefore sponsor regular school trips to London. One of the guys managed to lose his passport & as he searched his wife was clearly left thinking, 'jeez can't take him anywhere!' Everyone, including the flight attendants were searching, retracing his steps, eventually it uncovered itself - a young Kazakhstani girl had sat on it! Accidently of course - but there's no fooling me i saw that curve of her mouth, the red glint in her eyes & the 6's on her forehead!
The flight was due to leave at 4:30pm; however due to total engine failure we were left sat on the runway till 6:40pm. The flight took approx 6hrs 50mins & we arrived in Almaty, Kazakhstan at 6:30am where the temp was already hitting an impressive 22 degrees.