It has always been one of my frustrations not being able to bring my skating shoes with me in my travels. I always like to try skating rinks in different countries but skating shoes are not particularly light nor small. Whether a solo traveler or with my family, suitcase space is important.
I once tried the skating rink of Rockefeller Center in New York under the watchful eyes of Prometheus and I badly wished I had my shoes with me. Wearing rentals is such a raffle draw, either the blade is too worn out, toe pick damaged or worst.... wet inside soles.
When I found out there is a trip to Kazakhstan for a skiing weekend and found out that they have the highest open skating rink in the world, or so it is claimed, I knew I have to bring them shoes. But perhaps will have to hide the fact from Joseph, he is such a practical traveler, I will earn a disapproving finger wag "no".
As I unzipped my suitcase, I showed the shoes to Joseph and all he can say was, "you brought your shoes?"
It was a proud moment. After so many years of him doing the packing, this is the 3rd trip that I did the packing and managed to squeeze in a pair of skating shoes!
We thought we can squeeze in skating on our first night but it became so windy and the temperature dropped back down to -29 C, without a bit of heat from the sun, it will not be a smart move to do so. As much as I really want to tick it off my bucket list, I do not want to freeze my ass.
But, I know for sure, there is no way I'm leaving Shymbulak without skating. Even if I have to do it alone. I told Joseph, I can go on my own, it's safe, hotel will call the green taxi for me and I'll be back in an hour. I guess he thinks it's cool too so he said he wants to come with me.
On our second day in Shymbulak with an overwhelming feeling of knowing that lessons anew will happen midday, I thought it will be a nice break to skate since my legs won't be tired yet.
We informed reception that we want to go to Medeu Ice Skating Rink and to drive back after an hour. Taxi promptly came and though we both do not understand each other's language, the driver seemed very pleasant and so are we to him. I wanted to show him how much we appreciate his service, I ended up doing a combination of Japanese bow and Malaysian chest touch as we say "thanks for dropping as off and please come back after one hour".
He took Joseph's phone and dialed his phone number. That was as much conversation we had with him that we both understood the meaning clearly.
While we were busy adjusting to the weather and the ice, few guys in red uniform approached us. I know they were photographers who takes professional shots as a living. I gracefully declined and just skated happily.
Joseph then called me and said something about Instagram. Seems like one of the guys managed to catch husband's attention by the word INSTA. I knew it's a ploy but the weather is so good, the place felt magical, I still cannot believe we are here, in Medeu, in Kazakhstan doing things we never thought we ever will. I am with Joseph for a weekend date! Why not? Besides, the guys are a nice bunch and are trying to earn an honest living.
We did the cliche' poses even the Kazakh's pose (which I'm sure is not) and our very own cliche' of a kiss. At least we don't have to look weird with a kiss while eyes are checking if we are in the frame. I had fun and I know husband's happy for me,,, I really am a little girl when it comes to ice rinks.
We had hot chocolate after skating and asked the gentleman at the counter to translate for us. We don't know if our driver is outside, he checked and the driver was.
We head back to the ski resort to face the snow head on... or in my case, either face first or butt first.
Although our second day skiing was much better than what I was expecting and we progressed nicely to higher slopes, I was still so so so unbelievably happy that we managed to skate in Medeu as planned.
I dabbled in gymnastics as a young girl (mom pulled me off the team as I don't eat when I'm tired) and probably would have loved to have been thrown into figure skating if it was accessible then. It became accessible when I reached high school and it's in the city. I used to travel 2-3 hours to get to the only place with ice skating rink and pay an arm and a leg to get in. I have to save up for a few hours of joy. So really, skating in any rink outside the UAE is a big deal for me, let alone on a ski rink with a claim to be something unique in the world.
What an experience! I feel so very blessed for this weekend. I was teary eyed up in the mountains admiring how picturesque the snow covered mountains were and was teary eyed as I turned 360 degrees admiring where the rink is built.
2019, we will be back as a family. We will ski and we will skate and we will have lots and lots of fun!
We used to flip through the pages of glossy magazines or colourful webpages, drool and gawk at gorgeous places we only dreamed of seeing. We used to daydream over the idea of food we might never get to taste. Wondered how each destination feels.