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 21, 08/08/08: Tien Shan
Up at 7:00am for a final breakfast in Karakol; boiled egg, ham, fruit salad & yoghurt; then onto the mini-bus for the 9hr drive to Almaty (Kazakhstan). Great scenery & the weather became scorching hot the minute we entered Kazakhstan. The border control was exceptionally busy but it all went relatively smoothly.
Our driver was incredibly grumpy and during a hissy-fit had slammed the door smashing one of the watermelons, this then leaked all over his minibus floor...which obviously thrilled him further!
We arrived in Almaty at approx 6:00pm, a very busy, chaotic city; this proved a slight culture shock after the relative solitude of the mountains. Our hotel was pretty posh & we clearly looked underdressed for the occasion. We were all starving so we headed into Almaty & ate at an Italian restaurant (we thought we'd play it safe), we changed money enroute & were once again passed by lads carrying Kalashnikov guns. The food was fantastic; I had garlic bread, fresh salad, penne arrabiatta & pancakes stuffed with mascarpone & berries for dessert (ever treading that thin line with obesity!). From here we went to a bar for some celebratory drinks, the Olympic ceremony was being broadcast live everywhere. We returned to the hotel at approx 1:00am and the temperature was still a stifling 31 degrees!