Thursday, August 31, 2006

Well back from the weekend - three days but it took a week with all the travelling. If [you have bene tryingt o contact me and got no reply it was becuase there was no signal in the village where we were staying (part of the VSO ecotourism project- more another time) or because I have changed my mobile number to 007 333 157 45 34 ... but I am having problems with texts at the moment - I can;t send any and many seem to be getting lost... so best to call. But if you do call I have been told it takes many attempts before you get through. If this carries on I will revert to the old nbumber...

Aim to get online everyday next week and sort out the backlog in my inbox as well as start to writie something meaningful. Just to update moving house tonight (I hope) to a kinda student halls set up - all kids in villages live in a mock boarding school and I have bene offered a room in there which I am goign to take becuase the building has just been refurbished, has hot water and there are other people there which beats sitting listening to the local radio on loop in the evenings...things are looking up. But as I have not yet moved my things watch this space!

Still not done any meaningful work but this is to be expected.... next week will be different!

Monday, August 21, 2006

First from Zhitikara

Hey everyone. I have made it up to Zhitikara and it is living up to the expectations of the placement discription. It is certainly industrial - there are miines everywhere along with the spoil heaps. I flew up in the most crazy prop plane which took 4 hours - it was only 8 from London! It was decked out in the main Kazakh colour of turquoise blue. I had over 54 kilos of luggage exculding hand luggage and negotiated my way onto the plane with it all! It pays to have watcehd so many episodes of Airport!

I was met at the airport by my colleague, Sveta, and she will be working with me in the youth centre... they took my picture as I was walking out of customs. I wasa then taken to the Youth Centre in the regional town where I met some of the b\volunteerrs there and hed tea before the Deputy Major of my town arrived. His name is Marat and his job role is deputy Akim - the Akim iis the local government and this is where I am using the internet ( the two people in the room are looking at me in awe about the speed at which I am typing). We then embarked on the 3 and a half hour journy here through the steppes - vast flat land punctuated by three inducstial towns and I am based in the one fuirtherst awayt. All along the journey the only other traffic was heavy trucks moving deposits of materials about. It truely is industrial.

I was treated like a a king when I first arrive d- put in the birdal sweet int he lo0cal hotel becuase it has hot water... in the town there is no hot wter until October so this was a luxary... but as it had not been used for a while it seemed the water was brown for the first few minutes and then chucked out brown periodically making it a little less appealing but I thought I would make the most of on tap hot water.

I am consious that I need to get of the computer as I am dirupting someones day by sitting here. I have read all your emails and facebook messages and please keep them coming. I am on a traiing courcse for the next week andf then will be abkle to fill in more about my role and the town itself... keep you on tender hooks.

In the mean time if you want to call me you can get me on 007 701 610 31 62 for the next week or so and then I will change numbers to a differert netwoerk with better and more reliable signal... really look forward to hearing form you... if you are reading this you must be kinda interested in wehat i am doing.

Enought Got to go....(and mum Sarah Wollaston loves my spelling mistakes because she thinks they are intriguing!)


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Flıght possıbılıtıes

Languge traınıng ıs goıng well. I am now havıng an hour and a half lesson fırst thıng ın the mornıng and then a break whıle Tına - the other volunteer - has her lesson because I have a lot more Russıan knowledge than her. So thıs now wıll gıve me a two hour break durıng the day whıch ıs good.

Yesterday I moved from the hotel ınto an apartment. Thınk Sovıet and you are ın the rıght area. It ıs a lıttle lıke the flat ın Goodbye Lenın. I have taken some photos but they do not do ıt justıce - you do not get the smell of must that accompanıes the rooms! But ın honesty ıt ıs better than I expected and the shower ıs hot and the kıtchen has a workıng gas stove. As I took the bags ın yesterday wıth someone from VSO the neıghbour above came out and told me not to be a hoolıgan whıle lıvıng there whıch was a nıce welcome from my fırst babooshka! Dıd not sleep well becuase ıt was the fırst nıght wıthout aırcon and for the past few days the temperature has been pushıng the hıgh thırtıes (ıt ıs meant to be 39 today)

Got a nugget of news that I wıll most probably be flyıng North ınstead of the traın so I can settle ın on weekdays rather than arrıve at the weekend as I wıll be leavıng Almaty on the 17th eıther way. Thıs ıs very good news as I was not lookıng forward to the journey.

Mum sent an emaıl sayıng I need to spell check these posts ... I would ıf I could but I am typıng usıng a Russıan keyboard wıth Turkısh scrıpt makıng checkıng ımpossıble so you wıll have to translate as best you can. Sorry

All for now as I need to get back to the offıce for some cultral traınıng on HIV and AIDS ın kazakhstan and somethıng else whıch I cannot remember off the top of my head.

Monday, August 07, 2006

From Almaty

Hey! The first post from Kazakhstan but it won't be very long - not got much time at the moment. First impressions are great. Almaty is a pretty city which seems very Eastern European in feel. Much like Poland in many respects. But very Asian in complection - a lot more than I was expecting in fact. It seems weird to see Asian looking people talking in Russian but I am sure this will be a short lived observation. Started in country training today (ICT) and met the staff at the programme office - there are only 4 so I will be working close with them all in some capacity. Seamus (director), Madina (Programme Manager), Nessip (In Country Coordinator) and Gauhar (Office Manager). All very likable and fun. Nessip has drawn the short straw and will be taking me to Zhitikara on the 17th August. A mere 35 hours away! All for now. More observations when time allows.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The final countdown

Packing has taken all day. ALL day. I have been feeling very weird all day. Too busy to think about anything in particular but not busy enought not to be worrying about tomorrow (or today now it is past midnight). Dinner was excellent. Mum cooked a huge chicken pie (my fav meal) and my closest friends from Burnham came up, had drinks outside and then sat down for dinner. The early dinner turned into quite a late night becuase noone wanted to go and I didn't want anyone to go. I said goodbye to Alex, Nick and Joe and this was my first final goodbye to family and the first time I have really felt that pange in the heart and all emotional... and since then it has not gone away. I had to shoe Dani and Ali out the door before exploding and then I had to say goodbye to Doreen... one long hug latter and my eyes were welling up. I think hers were too but we made it out the door with a final hug and kiss... if this is what I am like now think about tomorrow at the airport with mum and dad. Whoever said this goin away lark would be easy though!

As I am sure is the same the world over when people are getting ready to leave the final things to sort out always get in the way of the most imporant thing to do with you last few hours which is spending time with those who you love. At the moment I am sorting out photos from graduation to post to people, still uploading CDs onto my itunes so I have some half decent (taste depending) music and tidying my room.... why does it all catch up on you??

I thought I had packed everything imaginable - I even have a potato peeler becuase when I was in Poland last year I nearly sliced my hands off with blunt knives so I am thinking ahead this time - but I had forgotten one ESSENTIAL for Kazakhstan which my godmother remined me to pack..... a HOT WATER BOTTLE! What a thing to forget!

Anyway time to change the next CD.. the next post will be from Kz which seems a million miles away from the kitchen in Burnham....

Thursday, August 03, 2006

So here is my first post... thanks to Paul for getting this all online and setting me up. Cheers. I'm not sure what I should be writing here but I am sure that will come with time.

At the moment I am feeling very confused. My feelings towards Kazakhstan keep on changing every hour. One moment I cannot wait to get out there and then the next I feel like will never be able to cope and that I am completely out my depth. In reality I guess I am somewhere in between the two but it does not feel like that now!

People keep on asking me what is it that I will miss. Apart from family and friends I think it will be missing shared memories... while I am away from the UK and London you all will be taking your lives forward and creating new memories and I am a little sad that I will be missing out on these. I suppose this happens whatever you do and wherever you are but I do think this is the biggest thing that I will miss....

Just so you know my movements I will outline them. I fly out on BA (not bad!) on Satuday at 13.05 from LHR. Its a 9 hour flight with a stopover somewhere in Russia. I arrive on Sunday morning and I'll be heading for a hotel where I will be based for the next two weeks while I am having language and cultural training in Almaty (the former capital right down in the south near the Kyrgystan border). I think I have 30 hours of Russian training over the two weeks. I'm flying with Tina - a woman who I met with on the training course I went on before graduation - who is going to remain in Almaty to develop a support group for parents with disabled kids.

Anyway I will no doubt post something soon so keep looking. I will do my best to get on online as often as possible and update things but until I get out there I have no idea how often I will be able to...


My name is Tom

OK thats a lie, its Paul. But Tom and I are best mates so it's ok.