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(4) Peking - Paris - two days off at Almaty Kazakhstan

On our first day off yesterday (Sunday) we walked leisurely around town, visiting the National Museum, the wooden Cathedral, the famous public baths and Coffeedelia, a famous coffee house with free internet. The weather was fine, sunny and warm. Very pleasant. Check pictures.

I felt a bit guilty for not dealing with car maintenance first, but it was Sunday and most garages were closed. Actually, I had decided to go with my friend Roger Allen to the Land Rover dealer where he had booked a service for Monday morning. (His Cadillac La Salle broke down twice in Mongolia on consecutive days with the same problem, so he gave up and bought a second hand Mongolian Land Rover to follow the Rally. It was to be serviced there). I was hoping to have solved our communication problems by finding someone who could speak English...

But today was not to be a good day ... When we got there this morning it soon became apparent that they were not prepared for this kind of assistance. The workshop manager was well intentioned but reception could not even open a work sheet for a non-LR vehicle. We decided to leave, come to the Hotel and find another garage.

We were about 1 Km from the Hotel when it happened: The car in front stopped, we hit the brakes... and nothing happened. Well, the pedal hit the floor but the car did not slow down...
We hit the car in front quite hard and he hit the car in front of him. Imagine if it would have happened tomorrow at 100 Km/h (60miles/h).
To make matters worse, the phones went dead and for more than an hour we could not get any call through...

We managed to settle things with both of them, one gave a lift to Roger back to the Hotel, and he soon organised a 4x4 to tow us there. By midday we had arranged a garage (Red Scorpion) to take us on and were on our way there on a recovery truck. They did an amazing work: Four hours later the front of the car was almost like new, with the radiator fixed, new lamps and almost all the bodywork back to the former shape (see pictures).

Then another couple of hours to fix the broken steel brake pipe, change oil and filter, etc. But we could not find suitable material to change both the top and bottom rear suspension mounts, so we may end up with more of these problems tomorrow or the day after...

Tomorrow is a long day with some 700 Km and we are scheduled to leave at 7.32. Must go to bed now...

Jose de Sousa

  • brake pipe ruptured
  • four hours later
  • inside wooden cathedral

  • masking for a quick spray
  • museum with the gold man
  • paris already

  • parks and flowers
  • radiator fixed
  • two hours later

  • view from our hotel room
  • wooden cathedral