Flew from Bishkek to Astana. The contrast between the cities is so great I thought we must have slipped into another world. Bishkek is a bit tired and run down. Astana near new, much new building work, a mall about 200 metres wide and 2 km long with immaculate garden beds and fountains which are lit with multi-coloured lights at night. Some of the tall buildings are also lit with ever changing patterns of light.
Eventually arrived at our apartment on the 37th floor of the hotel. Magnificent view of the city. We then spent some time trying to find out when we would picked up and transported to the competition area. After several garbled phone calls and a few SMS’s we determined that we were to be collected at 10 AM the next day, from the apartment. We then went for a walk along the mall and investigated a few restaurants for dinner, eventually picking an Italian style place where we had a good meal later in the evening.
As we expected to be collected at 10 we slept in a bit and were just starting breakfast when there was a knock at the door and two people appeared to collect us. A taxi driver and an interpreter. We asked them to wait for a few minutes while we scoffed a bit of breakfast and packed. The car was a Toyota Camary, which is not designed to carry 6 people, let alone with 4 large suitcases and miscellaneous small backpacks, however with 4 across the back seat and Ewen’s large case we departed for the airport where we spent 2 hours waiting for other teams to arrive. Eventually we all packed into a minibus and after 3 hours on a 6 lane tollway we arrived in Burabay. The country side is generally flat for as far as you can see and appears to be used for cropping. Our accommodation is spacious but the bed is horrible. Food is generally OK. I won’t mention the team leaders meeting.
Off to the training area to get a look at the country we will be running in and to check the equipment. This revealed major unexpected problems with our two metre receivers. Of the ten we have only two work correctly. Possibly 2 more will be OK but we didn’t have time to check them. We have a work around but nobody is looking forward to the two metre event. The 80 metre equipment worked well.
After training and lunch we headed off to the opening ceremony. We arrived a little early and found the children still rehearsing their dancing routines, accompanied by rather too loud music and directed by a screeching lady. Ewen resorted to ear plugs, much to the amusement of the people seated either side of him. The speeches were short, even though they were translated into Russian and English and the young kids put on a magnificent display of singing and dancing. A very good opening ceremony.