We arrived in Ust at 9pm. I’d forgotten that the “terminal” in Ust involves getting off the plane onto the tarmac and waiting in an outdoor holding pen whilst a man with a tractor throws the bags into a baggage hall (aka the shed). Then there is a scrum whilst everyone tries to get in and out of one tiny door with their luggage.
They need a queueing system.
Daniel was amused to discover that this was terminal 3 so that there must also be terminal 1 and 2 (presumably they save terminal 1 and 2 for the important people?)
We were met by the lovely Dinara and her husband in their swish new car (with seatbelts again – Daniel very happy) and we drove in the dark towards the town of Ust Kamenogorsk. The airport exit is beautifully lit with coloured lights and when we arrived in the town one of the first buildings we noticed was the neon lights of “Daniel” supermarket. D was really excited by this and all of a sudden the whole foolhardy adventure seemed to be looking up.
We were booked into a new hotel called the Dedeman built in 2014 on the river which cost about twice as much as the good old Irtysh Hotel we’d stayed in back in the day. My fingers did momentarily uncross when I saw the neon sign “DED MAN” which didn’t seem such a good omen until Dinara pointed out that the middle “E” was just rather unfortunately unlit…
The hotel is excellent – it almost seemed like cheating and the reception staff spoke enough English to be able to talk to them. The room was western standards with a great bathroom – LB was much happier.
“I LIKE Ust Kamenogorsk” he announced with a sigh as he sank into the bed and turned on the TV to watch BBC World. Now all we had to do was persuade the babyhouse to let us come and look around with little advance warning. But it’s OK, it would all be fine because my fingers were still crossed.