Sunday, May 1, 2011

Choose Your Own Kazakh Adventure

Adventure #1

You have already traveled 5 hours by taxi and crossed the border from Kyrgyzstan into Kazakhstan.  Night is falling.  You have entered the city of Almaty.  Somewhere in this grand city lies your destination:  Sanatorium Altin Kargaly.  You have in your possession an address (Zdasinova 204), a map printed off of the hotel website, a phone number, two cell phones that don't work in Kazakhstan and a limited knowledge of Russian.  You have now been driving around in circles in the city for about a half an hour.  Your taxi driver, a jolly older man, has turned not so jolly.  He has told you that you should have shown him the phone number earlier in the drive.  You show it to him now.  A minute later, he pushes it away and says he has never seen this kind of number and that it is not right.  You know the number works, it worked for the wonderful school secretary who called it for you.  You decide not to argue with him and the three of you keep driving, peering out of the windows in hope and despair.  Your taxi driver has stopped and asked people where the hotel is a couple of times.  You have figured out on the map where you think you are.  You show this to the taxi driver.  He pushes it away and says that there is not enough light.  You suspect that he does not like maps.  At this point do you:

A:  Sit back and allow your taxi driver to continue to drive a few blocks and stop and ask people, hoping that every time he comes back he will know where to go.  If so, turn to page 5.
B: Take control and start using your limited Russian to say "Turn right, turn left and go straight..." etc.. If so, turn to page 105.
C.  Hyperventilate and pass out, hoping you will wake up at Hotel Altin Kargaly.  If so, turn to page 25.

Option A, page 5:  At one point you are left in the car for 15 minutes.  A group of men standing outside seem to be eyeing your car.  You lock the doors and decide that when your taxi driver returns, you will try option B.  Turn to page 105.

Option B, page 105:  You tell him to turn right off of the main street.  Then you tell him to turn right at the first street you come across.  There is an intersection like a Y, with a street off to the right.  The street looks narrow and unused.  You decide to keep going straight.  Suddenly your husband (who is looking at the map) says, "Um, the street doesn't turn like this on the map".  You feel like you have failed, you are probably not on the street you thought you were on.  Your driver pulls over and asks people at a little store.  One woman seems to know the answer.  You drive back to the Y intersection and turn onto the unused street.  And there, not in the same place as it was on your map, is your hotel.  All three of you end up laughing with the driver.  You pay him a little extra and enter the hotel complex.

Option C, page 25:  You return to consciousness only to find yourself still lost in a foreign city.  You decide to try one of the other options.

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