This town looks like it has seen better days – most of the roads are dirt with lots of rocks and a number of the streets are torn up for some reason. On the map, the few paved roads look like giant super highways. I watched one taxi struggle over a narrow almost 4wd like section of one road that had a huge ditch torn across its path. The tires on the vehicle were so bald combined with the small creek flowing through the construction site that the car kept slipping back until a passer by ran over and helped push the car over the hump.A number of front yards are ripped up with piles of rubble and gravel just sitting in front of the entrances to the homes. Rusted shells of former automobiles seem to be common front yard decorations. There is a smell of raw sewage that drifts in through the open window every now and of the hostel/hotel where I am staying. A number of empty dilapidated buildings sit among the inhabited ones – perhaps perfect shelters for hard core travelers on an extreme budget.
Last night I ate at a little restaurant called Jack Bar that alternated loud English rock with Russian rock every other song. I kept pointing at the photos on the menu until the waiter nodded in positive indicating they could cook whatever was represented in the photo. Apparently most of the menu photos were just there to please the eye, rather than serving any useful purpose.Unfortunately I picked the wrong photo – whatever I had was riddled with some sort of nasty bacteria as I became violently ill last night racing to the bathroom every 30 minutes to throw up and at times not making it – filling up part of the plastic trash can in the room.
But the day has dawned crisp, with bright blue skies, the smell of sewage is mostly gone replaced by clean smelling fresh air and I’m ready to head up to Arashan for some trekking and a visit to some hot springs to soak away all this dust.