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Mongol Rally, Day 23: No stars for this hotel

August 06, 2012|By Leon Legothetis
  • The posters are about the only happy thing about this hotel.
The posters are about the only happy thing about this hotel. (Leon Legothetis )

You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.

--Colette

 Well into the third week of the 10,000-mile Mongol Rally, I arrived in the eastern Kazakhstani town of Balkesh. The sun was no more. Steve and I had driven about 12 hours and were looking forward to relaxing before we headed off toward Russia in the morning. We bumped into a few other ralliers who were getting ready to camp for the night. They invited us along but we decided to go to the local hotel instead.¿

That was a bad mistake.

Hotel Balkesh is not a welcoming place.

As I entered, I felt a powerful and disturbing energy consume me. I am convinced the hotel used to be an asylum of some sort. The mental kind. Or a former Soviet interrogation center. The energy is morbid. The room practically uninhabitable. I felt like I was standing in a Stalinist propaganda poster, but without the manufactured charm.

Posters of beautiful mountains and happy joyous people adorn the walls. Let me assure you, there is no joy in this room. There is something very wrong with Room 23.

The lady who works at the reception (if that is what you can call it) is particularly unfriendly and rather rude. Maybe she knows something that I am glad I don’t…

The only bright spot is that so far I haven’t seen any cockroaches. But the night is still young. I will be sleeping with all my clothes on, and if I make it through this night, I will consider myself lucky.

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