Monday, July 9, 2012

Picnic on the Ural

As regular readers will have realised, this is not a part of the world that easily lends itself to casual outdoor recreation, just for reference the temperature today was about 42C (107.6F) and quite windy, yesterday it was not quite as hot, but also so windy that it tore Sandra's umbrella apart as she walked home in the warm rain. It is also not a part of the world that is obviously endowed with the remains of Greek, Roman, Ottoman, Egyptian or any other great civilisations existence. But that is not to say it is without an important history. The silk road, the trade route between Europe with Asia for several hundred years was not actually a single road but a network or routes acroos asia and eastern europe. one route went south of the caspian, another north, crossed the ural river about 50km north off Atyrau. There are still the remains of this crossing and the city, Saraijuk (present name - Saraichik), to be seen. So on a pleasant Saturday afternoon we, Sandra and I, Mary and Lee, and Ben, set out in an official vehicle to visit Saraichik, to see the ruins and picnic by the river.

The main road was fine, but then we had to turn off onto a dirt road and bump along for a few kilometers.
We approached the trees that lined the river bank and suddenly came upon a makeshift gate across the dirt road.  We stopped and out from the trees emerged a man.  This was the "park" entrance and he had emerged to negotiate or entry fee.  After some conversation with the driver we were called upon for a few dollars each, almost certainly ten times more than a local would pay, and we entered the park.  There was nothing there to show it was a park, and the driver got us as close to the river as he could, about 40 meters away.  
The river had steep banks which were very muddy from the high water.  We could not actually get down to the river so we selected a picnic spot that was on the bank and clear of the scrubby little bushes that were everywhere.  These are the weeds that were growing wild all along the river side.

The mainstay of or picnic was liquid. it is important to stay hydrated in this hot weather, so we had plenty of beer and wine! 

I took some meat pies that I had (made with the local bread dough that is sold in the shops here), scotch eggs and stuffed zucchini, Mary had brought chicken salad and all the sandwich makings.  I was responsible for dessert so has some home made chocolate mousses.  I find this an easy dessert here as the classic Elizabeth david recipe usues only eggs and chocolate, which are always available.

The driver waited patiently in the car.  We shared, or attempted to share, our picnic with him but I am sure that he was thinking "you cant really trust what those foreigners eat".

You will notice all the weeds growing in the woods.

It was rather make shift but we managed to while away a couple of hours before loading the van and setting off towards the famous ruins.

The local housing was not very inspiring at the small village near the ruins, which sadly, were not very inspiring either. 

Being right on the river bank they get flooded most years and so are being eroded very quickly.  Hopefully there is more under the desert sand, and it is better protected.

I am not sure what Yorik was doing there, but he was real enough!  I wondered about bringing him home as my souvenir
Here are the happy explorers, engrossed in the archaeological mystery of it all....well maybe not, but we had a quick look around, before heading back...
Marriott Building, Home is near the top on the left corner.

No comments:

Post a Comment