Tag Archives: Jambyl Province

Day 65 – A night in the bowels of a brothel – Taraz

We walked past the mass of other hitchhikers in Korday, and headed up the road towards Taraz. We figured there was no point in trying to compete with the other hitchhikers, because whenever a car pulled over, it was like a scrum, and not speaking the language put us at a severe disadvantage.

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We walked through the wet snow and were picked up faster than expected, by the first Kazakhstani that hasn’t expected money in return. Saken, the driver, took us by surprise at first asking, “Specken ze Deutsch?”

Fortunately though, we dazzled our new host with the full extent of our German lexicon.
“Nein”

Having spent time in Europe, Saken understood the concept of hitchhiking. It was a boring drive, through the dark, listening to a cassette on repeat. This one song, a woody-wood pecker techno remix, was especially painful. I could handle the long daytime drives when I could engage my imagination with the novelty of my surroundings, but night time driving could get very tedious.

Saken dropped us off at what proved to be one of the strangest places either of us has ever stayed. The building, owned by Turkish people, looked like some kind of youth club. There was music pumping out of the main room and there must have been about 20 lorries parked up at the back.

A Turkish man came out to greet us and ushered us inside. The scene that greeted our eyes looked like something straight out of the film From Dusk till Dawn; just replace ravenous, flesh eating vampires with ravenous, flesh eating prostitutes and you get the idea. We’d been dropped off at a brothel.

The ladies of the night, smelling fresh blood, started dancing provocatively around us.

“Rich, I’m scared. What should we do?”

“No sudden movements and don’t make eye contact with anything.”

“I should shut my eyes?”

“No. Keep your eyes open. Just don’t look at anything”

“Right”

We edged our way, back-to-back, through the room, with eyes open, but trying not to look at anything and found a table. A burley woman brought over a couple of plates of borsch, a cabbage soup, with bread, and placed them in front of us. As we ate, we eyed our surroundings like a pair of anxious antelopes drinking at a watering hole.

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After we’d eaten we were led outside and into a small dark and dank boiler room. As the cast iron door slide open, with a deep creaking sound, two rats scampered outside.

We looked at each other.

“More room for us I suppose,” said Michael, as optimistic as ever, and we walked inside.

To the left of the room was a small four step set of wooden stairs into a kind of cubby hole. The cubby hole had a wooden floor with some sheets, a blanket and a pillow, all of which smelled like an old man’s cough. The walls were covered with cardboard and the ceiling had more spider webs than the roof of Little Miss Muffet’s curd and whey pantry.

“I swear those spiders are staring at us” mumbled Mike, out of the corner of his mouth.

“Yeah. And why are those two giggling?”

We could just tell by the mischievous looks in their little spider eyes that they were planning to wait until we fell asleep so they could dance the night away on our faces.

I lay down and considered my situation for a few minutes. To my left was the seedy music pumping out of a sordid brothel; at my feet was a squalid rat den; above me was spider city, where rehearsals for the great midnight dance-off on my face were well under way. And to my right, lay Michael.

Never in my whole life, I thought to myself, have I been so completely and utterly surrounded by such abject squalor and filth.

I shuddered as I contemplated which vulgarity I should try and edge away from.

My eye started twitching. I took a deep breath in, a long breath out and I poured myself a large glass of vodka.

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Day 65: “Let’s just get the hell out of here”

I awoke the next morning with a grim, somewhat world-weary expression on my face. I trudged outside to the shed, like a convict walking the mile, and I opened the door, slowly, with my eyes closed, too scared to look.

If anyone knows of a more depressing and pathetic sight than 15 newborn puppies, huddled together, shivering in the cold, with frozen streaks of vodka piss matted into their furry little faces, I’d please like to hear about it. Maybe then I can efface this horrendous image from my conscience…

I signed heavily and the dog that yapped at me the night before came over to the door. It didn’t yap at me this time though. It just squinted at me, in hatred, and I swear, on my life, I saw that bitch shaking her head in disgust at me. I dragged my feet back into the kitchen where Michael was reading a Kazakhstan newspaper.

“Something wrong mate?” he said, without looking up.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” I sniffed.
“You pissed on the puppies as well, didn’t you?”

My eye started twitching. I took a deep breath in, a long breath out and I poured myself a large glass of vodka.

“Let’s just get the hell out of here”

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Day 64: “Orgies and puppies…” – Korday

As we trudged through the sloppy snow towards the highway, in the eyeball freezing rain and the lip burning wind, Ainur turned to us:

“Hey, you can sleep at my house tonight, if you want? I can cook home meal. You can meet my girls! I stay with six Kazakh girls, students, they will looove you!”

It was at this point I had that eerie feeling again: for some strange reason, all of a sudden, every fibre of my being told me to put off hitching, in the bitter cold, to Terrorist-ville Taraz, and instead stay at Ainur’s for the night in Korday, on the Kazak border with Kyrgyzstan.

“Did you hear that Michael? Six girls!”

But he wasn’t listening. He was busy doing the maths on his fingers. After a couple of minutes of earnest arithmetic he turned to me, hesitated, rechecked his figures and then said, “Two girls each?”

“Exactly mate”

We went into a shop whilst Ainur went into her house to prepare it for our stay. Our company in the shop, which evidently also served as a bar, was Alexander and Halim, who were celebrating the latter’s 30th birthday. Alexander was of Russian descent and Halim was Kazak.

With these two we drank a considerable amount of vodka. When posing for a photo I thought it would look good if the birthday boy, Halim, wore my England scarf around his neck.

“Present!” he yelped in excitement.

“Eeerrrm… yeah sure, present,” I replied, already feeling the icy fingers of the Kazakhstan winter caressing my naked neck.

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After we’d shared a bottle or two of vodka with the bibulous pair, Alexander, evidently one of the many  town drunks, was having a teary breakdown on Michael’s shoulder.

“We’d better get going!” I announced.

“Cheers mate”, Mike said to me as we made a hasty exit, “his wet moustache was tickling my ear”

The six girls all lived together in a three room house. It was comprised of a kitchen, a dressing room and a bedroom which also served as the living room. All six girls slept in the one bedroom, some on the sofas, some on the floor.

“Play it cool, Michael, my orgy sense is tingling”

“You have an orgy sense?”

“I don’t know. Something’s definitely tingling though”

“Is it your neck? We could go and ask for your scarf back if you want?”

“No, it’s not my neck! It’s my orgy sense I tells you. Just play it cool”

While Michael and I waited in the kitchen, playing it cool, I suddenly remembered that the last time I’d had a hot shower was a good few days ago. I also regrettably remembered that the last time we’d properly washed our clothes was the day after my birthday, on the 27th of October, three weeks ago,

I attempted a couple of covert sniffs of my armpit, to assess the damage. A pungent aroma assaulted my nostrils. Feeling woozy, I had to physically shake myself back to my senses. Remembering where I was, I looked up and my vision blurred back into focus. To my horror, I realised that at least four of the six girls had been intently watching me through the curtains from the other room.

“Bollocks,” I mumbled, as we were invited inside to meet the girls. Note to self: when you write the book, blame Michael for sabotaging the orgy.

“What did you say?” asked Michael, suspiciously.

“I said ‘after you friend’,” I replied, as I tried to trip him up on our way in.

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We tried to chat to the girls, whose ages ranged from 18 to 23. It was difficult to get any sense out of them though. They were very giggly, very shy and couldn’t speak any English. Whilst we’d been “charming” the girls, Ainur had been outside, where Halim had followed us back. He was apparently desperate for us all to join him at the local billiards room to celebrate his birthday.

When we returned to the flat, slightly tipsy from the vodka, I asked Ainur where the toilet was..

“Follow the path to the outhouse,” she replied.

I stumbled outside into the snow and followed the path in the dark; it must have been minus 10.

My neck was bloody freezing.

I opened the door of what looked more like a shed than an outhouse and, trying to ignore the sound of rats scurrying and squeaking around me, I stepped inside. I peered into the dark, trying to force my eyes to penetrate the blackness, but to no avail. I tentatively sniffed the abyss; it certainly smelled rather peculiar, so I did what any other self respecting bloke, with a skin full of vodka and a freezing cold neck, would have done in my situation: I pissed into the darkness, with my hand cupped over my ear, listening for water.

My endeavour for aural confirmation, however, was interrupted by a rather frantic dog, outside by the open door, yapping at my heels.

“Back off pouch. I have no beef with you”

As I walked back into the house, shivering from the cold, Ainur asked me:

“Did you see the puppies?”

“Puppies?”

“Yes. My dog’s just had 15 puppies. They are in the shed before the outhouse. She always barks like that when people go near them.”

My eye started twitching. I took a deep breath in, a long breath out and I poured myself a large glass of vodka.

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I awoke the next morning with a grim, somewhat world-weary expression on my face. I trudged outside to the shed, like a convict walking the mile, and I opened the door, slowly, with my eyes closed, too scared to look.

If anyone knows of a more depressing and pathetic sight than 15 newborn puppies, huddled together, shivering in the cold, with frozen streaks of vodka piss matted into their furry little faces, I’d please like to hear about it. Maybe then I can efface this horrendous image from my conscience…

I signed heavily and the dog that yapped at me the night before came over to the door. It didn’t yap at me this time though. It just squinted at me, in hatred, and I swear, on my life, I saw that bitch shaking her head in disgust at me. I dragged my feet back into the kitchen where Michael was reading a Kazakhstan newspaper.

“Something wrong mate?” he said, without looking up.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” I sniffed.
“You pissed on the puppies as well, didn’t you?”

My eye started twitching. I took a deep breath in, a long breath out and I poured myself a large glass of vodka.

“Let’s just get the hell out of here”

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