Up in Smoke

Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Saturday, October 11, 2014.

My flight landed in Almaty, Kazakhstan around 5 a.m. It was still dark outside when I entered the meeting area with all the taxi drivers and I couldn’t find a sign with my name on it. (I had asked the hotel I had a reservation at to send a driver since I’d be arriving at an odd hour.)

ME TEXTING HOTEL: Is the driver here?
HOTEL: yes
ME: I don’t see a sign but I am by the door next to the cell phones in a green hat
HOTEL: hi he has been waiting for you 40 min and he said he didn’t find you and left
ME: The plane was delayed and immigration took 25 min.
HOTEL: and Eric there is a hassle in our hotel. At night there is a fire has occured in the hotel. we are here if you want you may come here. to the hotel. we are outside of the hotel

I took a taxi on my own to the hotel as the sun started to lighten the sky slowly. My initial thoughts on approach to the city were that it’s a lot more developed than I thought. I mean, I had heard that it’s a lot more modern than what Borat would make you believe, but this was really modern with good roads and fancy skyscrapers.

My hotel, the Mark Inn Hotel & Hostel, was another story. I had missed the overnight fire by a few hours. When I arrived, the fire department was still there and there was smoke still coming out of the windows. The place was trashed, and I felt bad for Rahat, the person I’d been in contact with, and her colleagues.

Fortunately, she put me up in an alternate “hostel” nearby, which was not really a hostel, but a nice apartment in a residential high-rise that some guy converted to accommodations for travelers.

The view from my substitute accommodation, some dude’s really nice apartment in a high rise building, with rooms he rents out.

My view of the Ritz-Carlton’s better view of the Zailiysky Alatau mountain range south of the city.

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Next entry: Morning Drive

Previous entry: Heading to Central Asia

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This dispatch is one of over 70 travel dispatches from the trip grouped and titled, "The Global Trip: 'Stan By Me." It's an archived compilation of Instagram and Facebook posts which chronicled a trip through three countries in Central Asia: Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.

Next entry:
Morning Drive

Previous entry:
Heading to Central Asia


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