Now, according to various widgets I have found online, Almaty is approximately one-third of the way back to London from Beijing. One third. Already. This is somewhat strange, since it feels as if I’ve only just begun.
But now comes the interesting part. Until now, there have been few issues communicating, except for a few Uighur or Kazakh farmers I’ve stumbled across over the past week. Even for those people whose Chinese hasn’t been great (and it’s a MASSIVE ego boost when you realise your Chinese is better than that of a real bona fide Chinese) you’re still able to fall back on it as a linguistic crutch when Lonely Planet Central Asia Phrasebook is all getting a bit much.
From later this morning when I cross to border at Khorgas, my Chinese will be useless. People, I will have lost my superpowers.
Then, it’ll be a story of hopping between two phrasebooks – Central Asian and Russian. Currently, my Russian inventory is fairly limited, but it should cover most topics of conversation:
* Spaciba (cultural niceties)
* Sputnik (science & technology)
* Smirnoff (entertainment)
* Maria Sharapova (sports)
* Perestroika (politics)
* Dostoyevski (literature)
* Reven (Rhubarb – objectives)
I might have a quick flick through before arriving in Almaty in case I’ve missed anything useful.