Monday, 29 September 2008

Mains Hot Water

While we were looking for a house to rent, there were lots of warnings from various people about the multiple pitfalls to be aware of when renting property in Kazakhstan. One of the most important things to have, apparently, is a generator since the power supply can be patchy. 
Another is the water supply, and whether or not you have a functional boiler, since much of the hot water is mains supplied - so the city has some gigantic boiling pot somewhere and then pumps hot water around the streets! This seems amazing to me, and could surely only happen in a place with so much oil and gas (in Turkmenistan, which borders Kazakhstan I think, there are these things called Gas Craters which are just huge burning holes of natural gas on fire in the ground, so they are obviously not too bothered about saving energy). Amazing to think of hot water being pumped around Almaty in the winter when the temperature can reach 30 degrees below zero.

We are living in a fairly swanky pad in the middle of town, with marble bathroom, high ceilings, chandeliers (Yes, I know this does not = swanky!!) and all pretty good quality finishings. But we have mains hot water. 

And all the estate agents who kept saying that it was the best system and so reliable, and blah blah blah were all just telling bare-faced lies, because it turns out that the hot water supply is rubbish! Completely unreliable. And we have a water heater but it is not plumbed in. So the other day, husband came home after a real red eye from Moscow (take off 1.30am, land 5.30 in Almaty - nice!) and had to have a baltic spray of icy water. Even worse (although not for him) was the other day when all the water went off for a couple of hours, and when it came back in, it honestly looked like the kind of muddy torrents you see on TV pouring out of the bottom of a landslide in the Philippines. After the mudslide effect, the bath, loo and sink were all reddy-brown covered in sediment. Ugh.

Here are two photos of the attractive solution to the hot water problem in our bathroom: 

So then I started to ask around. Did people use tap water to cook in? Was it OK for pasta etc? The first person I discussed this with said she preferred to use bottled water since she had heard that some of the water mains were still made of lead. Surely this cannot be true??? A second person, a kazakh from upcountry, said that there was no way he would use the tap water to cook in and had I seen the colour of the water after the recent cut in supply? 

So now Connie drinks the bath water I am not only concerned that she might have already peed in it, but also that she might be giving herself dysentery. 


1 comment:

  1. Hi Gail. Congratulations on starting your blog, which is very entertaining already. Good luck with the expat ladies walking group. I am sure you can more than hold your own.