Quick help or how Ruslan saved us
Not even three hours later we were in Aktobe. A strange feeling now to travel so fast…
After we had our bicycles back from the luggage room in the bus, Stefan noticed that the back wheel of Alexandra’s bicycle was wobbling. When having a closer look he stated that the whole cassette was kind of loose, oh oh… For this reason we wanted to search for a bicycling shop in Aktobe. When we couldn’t find any Stefan contacted a guy of a cycling organisation in Aktobe via Facebook. Ruslan, that’s his name, told us there were no good bicycle shop in Aktobe but he will try to fix our bike.
So the next day he came to pick us – including the wheel – up and with the help of his friend Alek and his tools he first tried to fix it in a parking lot, then at his home. There he contacted a friend via Skype who seemed to know a lot about bicycles. The friend told us that there might have been a manufacturing error which got worse the more kilometers we rode. In any case we could not fix it no matter how often we took the weel apart and therefore had to go to Astana by train. Ruslan knows a bicycle shop owner there and other members from cycling organisations, so we should be able to get help there.
After the work we also got to know Ruslan’s parents – very funny people who love to go fishing together – and were invited to dinner at their place. When saying farewell we even received some kilograms of vegetables from their own garden from his mother and a Kazakh scarf and hat for good luck. How nice! 🙂
Afterwards Ruslan drove with us to the railway station to get train tickets to Astana for us for the next day. Although we had been informed that there won’t be a luggage waggon Ruslan reckoned that there is always a way. 😀
Then we promenaded a bit – it was a beautiful evening in Aktobe – and suddenly about 15-20 cyclists arrived, were taking pictures of us and asking questions. Those were members of Ruslan’s cyclists organisation which is growing every year.
When we said goodbye to the cyclists Ruslan picked up his wife Laura from work who bought some balloons as they wanted to surprise their friend at his birthday at midnight. 🙂 Afterwards they bought dinner for us so that we would have something to eat at the hotel, unbelieveable those guys! 😀
The next day it was raining, of course, so we postponed our ride to the railway station as long as possible. Then at the station people were again very interested in us and we were surrounded by a knot of people. When we said “Austria” some were murmuring awestruckly “Aaah Australia”, why at some point we could only shake our heads. 😀 One guy wanted to know it exactly and asked Alexandra again: “Australia? Kangaroo?, what she, of course, denied and instead she said: “Arnold Schwarzenegger!” Then the Kazakh laughed. But that we should also have winter and snow he really couldn’t believe.
We should be at our platform at 6 PM, Ruslan told us, but Stefan wanted to wait for Ruslan who wanted to come to say goodbye in front of the station building. Then finally at 6:20 PM we went to the platform and it got stressful. We had to go to platform 2 but there was train on platform 1 which we had to bypass first and all that with a bicycle and a lot of luggage. At our waggon we finally found Ruslan and Laura who couldn’t understand why we were arriving so late. Then it got even more stressful. Take our luggage from our bikes to our cabin, take off the front wheel, put the handlebar crosswise and ticket and passport control. When we had all our luggage on the train, they finally said: “No, there is no place for the bicycles.” Thankfully, Ruslan was discussing the situation with them for us and then finally, we could store our bikes directly in the rail car. But we had to pay again 10.000 Tenge which was nearly a third train ticket. Sounded completely legal to us but nevermind…
Again we thanked Ruslan and Laura for their help and said goodbye. Let’s just say again what Ruslan did for us is amazing!! Thank you so much!
The 17 hours of our train ride passed by pretty quickly as the more expensive kind of Kazakh train was very comfortable.
To be honest, most of the time we just slept but we also read a little bit. 😉