The city that is everything all at once
Landing in a foreign country after midnight always feels uneasy. Last week I stepped off a plane in Astana, the second coldest capital city in the world. After Ulan Bator since you ask.
It was almost 1am and the temperature was close to minus 20ºC. The guard at the border control looked serious. He was sporting an oversized peaked cap and barked at me in Russian.
I had little in the way of a response. So I smiled. And said ‘Expo’.
Astana is the host city for this year’s World’s Fair, or Expo 2017 as it is better known. The theme is ‘Future Energy’ and as an oil and gas nation, Kazakhstan is well placed to play host. The natives know this and are proud to be part of what looks to be a landmark event on a world stage.
The guard smiled back, stamped my passport and waved me on my way, to a hotel bar and so to bed.
The following morning, refreshed by dreamless sleep and a stack of pancakes I set off for the Expo site. It had warmed overnight and the temperature had hit an almost balmy minus ten.
I was travelling with my colleague Roy Webber who is Head of Technical at Stage One. He’s a very useful travel companion in that he doesn’t grumble much, is fleet of foot through an airport, and doesn’t need much sleep. He goes everywhere with a rucksack full of lasers and is splendid at measuring. We have