Continued – based on Emīls notes.
The morning starts with words “приготовите паспорт” which means “get the passport ready”. The fact that we crossed border to Kazakhstan yesterday doesn’t mean that we can put our passports away till Almaty. The train has an interesting route – it crosses the Russia/Kazakhstan border 3 times as you can see from the map in the 1st page of our site. It could be because of former Soviet Union and common railroads to Russia and Kazakhstan at that time. Though double entry visa is NOT needed for either country. People in both embassies informed us that they think we will need double entry visa when we wanted to check whether the information on internet about not needing double one is right. But it appeared that our visas were already processed at that time, so we couldn’t change entry times and got single entry visas. There were no questions on the 2nd or 3rd border crossing.
After the 2nd border it is still morning so most of us go back to sleep. When we finally get up, the train has a stop and there is no possibility to go to toilet, so someone of us has to contain himself till we are moving again. Toilets are closed before stops, because everything from there goes directly to ground under train and it’s not clever to allow it in stops. The train is still late. Outside the window we see “dry” cows (very thin, in a pale brown color) from time to time, first camels, steppe. We play card games, checkers, dices and riču-raču (Latvian version of the board game Ludo)
We stop at some station, I want to go to buy milk in a nearby shop, but our train hasn’t stopped at the 1st platform and between it and the terminal a very long train arrives. Since it won’t be possible to get back on time by going around, I return to our train before my time has come in the queue in the shop. Though Everita and MārtiņšK who have left at the other side get back by walking through the other train. The scenery outside the window stays the same. A beautiful sunset. I finally get to buy milk at some station. MārtiņšM buys yogurt for Kristīne and a bottle of mineral water. First stars, the night has come and the first educational astronomy lessons start. Our train neighbors are also interested. Unfortunately there’s some haze and not a better sight upwards than in Latvia. Or maybe the light ruins everything. The light in corridor, which windows can be opened, is always on in the night. Last year in steppe the visibility of the sky was much better.
Me, Emīls and MārtiņšM watch and take photographs of Moon and Jupiter from the corridor of the train. Others are already asleep. We go past Aral sea but as it is about 100km away, we can see nothing except some salt fields which in night are a bit lighter than the rest of the ground. The morning comes, it gets lighter. Venus and Mars can be seen in the Twins constellation from the window of our kupe. Also MārtiņšM and Emīls sleep when I finally go to bed to wait for Tjuratam station (closest to the Baikonur cosmodrome) there (with the alarm clock on). Last year I was sleeping in the car when we went by it. This year I want at least to look at that direction. There’s not much that can be seen – just rails that suddenly split away to north and some satellite receivers in form of big dishes. Still I feel happy. The sun is rising, I wake up Emīls for that sight and after the sunrise finally go to sleep.