Charging in Astana, Kazakhstan

Astana – seems a bit like Ashgabat

Astana is the capital of Kazakhstan since 1998. The government invested huge amounts of money to build a futuristic city in the middle of the Kazakh steppe. Benedikt and I felt reminded of Ashgabat (see this post), except that Astana is a bit more “colorful” and not only out of white marble. The police, military and security presence is also unnaturally high in Astana.

Meeting Ueli Maurer

The Swiss Pavilion invited us to visit them at the Expo 2017. On June 11th, Ueli Maurer, Swiss finance minister and member of the Swiss Federal Council was also expected there. We had the great chance to have lunch with him and talk with him about our journey. Thanks to the team of the Swiss Pavilion for organizing this!

Bringing our Tesla on the Expo territory

We really wanted to bring our Tesla on the Expo territory. Traveling with an electric vehicle from Switzerland to Kazakhstan fitted so well to the topic of the Expo. We couldn’t organize this on the day that Ueli Maurer was present at the Expo. But, thanks again to the great team of the Swiss Pavilion, we managed to bring the car to the Expo territory in the night of the June 12th.

We got overwhelmed with requests of journalists that wanted to make interviews with us (see for example this and this article). The whole day long, except of the times that we visited other pavilions, we answered questions of visitors who were curious what the story of this Tesla is.

Visiting other pavilions at the Expo 2017

101 countries present in Astana how they interpret “future energy”. The main pavilion with 8 floors is the pavilion of Kazakhstan. In a building looking like the death star in Star Wars, the country established a very well-made museum about renewable energy. Of course, this pavilion is the most popular with the Kazakh visitors. 90% of the people seem to only take pictures (toooons of pictures) and enjoy the entertainment-shows in the pavilion.

Around the Kazakh death star, all other countries have their exhibition rooms. There is the German Pavilion, that is high in information, very well made and with a fancy, little excessive light show at the end. USA is saying that they are the source of energy (whatever that is supposed to mean – they had no real reference to alternative energy). The Lithuanian Pavilion is staffed only with native Lithuanians and it gives one a good impression of the country. We also liked the Polish Pavilion, since it covered well information about their state forests and how they perceive the topic “future energy”. Even the Vatican was present and we saw a very well-made movie about the creation of the universe ending with the thought, that it is our responsibility to care about what was created millions of years back. We saw many more pavilions, of course that would go beyond the scope of this article.

Charging in Astana

Somehow, we arranged to park in the underground parking of the Airbnb-apartment that we stayed at. We used a Schuko in the parking to charge the car during our first night in Astana to 90%. The security of that building was annoying. They unplugged the cable (luckily after the battery reached the 90%) and told us we would need to leave the parking garage (that was almost empty). Our Airbnb-host managed that we could return in the garage, but we weren’t allowed to charge there anymore. I wish, people would be better educated about electricity prices and unity. Most people don’t know what a Kilowatt hour is and how much they regularly pay for one. The price for one kWh in Kazakhstan is about 0,07€. That means charging 30 kWh (this is about as much as letting the air-conditioning for one room for 12 hours) costs about 2 €. We always offer to pay, but if people have no clue on how much kW what electric equipment in their house uses and what the price of one kWh is, they can’t relate to this price.

We changed front and back tires (to have a even attrition) in the underground garage of this building.

On our way out of Astana, we planned to charge at Astana’s only charging station. It was out of order… we managed anyways to drive the 250 km north to a natural reserve close to Shchuchinsk.

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
Schuko 220 volt 10 amperes 2 kW 30 kWh

Charging in Nain, Iran

One more ripoff in Caravanserai hotel

It was already dark when we left Isfahan. Our destination was a Caravanserai on the road to Naein (east of Isfahan). Again, and again there are things happening in Iran, that are hard to imagine somewhere else. Our experience at that specific Caravanserai was another strange occurrence in Iran: The first impression we got of the Caravanserai was good. It was a nicely renovated building.

When we entered, a guy sitting on the bench, not speaking English, was highly confused that guests entered the hotel. He went into his office, talked to someone on the phone for about ten minutes. After he finished some friends of him appeared. We first thought, “great, he got somebody to translate”, but none of his buddies were speaking English. 5 minutes later, the guy handed us hotel-registration papers to fill out. There has been no conversation so far. No one told us if the hotel has a room available, what kind of rooms there are, what it costs… at least, we wanted to know what we should pay. The guy typed into google-translator 200 Dollars. If someone wants to fool you in Iran, they try to sell you a hotel room for 200 bucks. When we were almost leaving, one of the friends, toothless (sometimes the quality of teeth tells a bit about the background of a person) tried to lower the price to 2.000.000 IRR (roughly …) But even that is for shady people like that way too much. We left and only heard the guys laughing back in the office. I guess we’ll never learn, what is so funny about disturbing your potential guests.

Finally rest in Nain

It was already 10:30 p.m. when we called the next guest house. Due to no guests, it was closed (we should have called earlier…). The owner of the guest house advised us to go to a hostel in Naein. We went there, but the place was awful (old hair on the bed linen and a disgustingly smelling bathroom/toilet). Since it was already past 12:00 and I was really tired we ended up staying anyways. At least the hostel gave us a Schuko-outlet to charge (we had to pay for electricity though).


 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
 Schuko  220 volt  6 amperes  2 kW  about 30

Charging in Urmia, Iran

Drive to Urmia

The traffic in Iran is supposed to be one of the worst. I wasn’t worried, since Benedikt got by now good in driving calmly, but also offensive. I had and still have a good feeling that he manages the traffic and so far, he did good 😉.

The traffic is especially crazy in cities. There seem to be no rules (which is interesting on cross-sections). Hosseins house is in the middle of Urmia, where we somehow managed to get to. The battery of the car had only left about 17% of its charge. We needed electricity. Hossein’s house itself didn’t have three-phase electricity.  But by connecting directly to the electric meter of the house, we managed to charge 4.5 kW (instead of the usual 2 kW) at 20 amperes on one phase. That way the car was supposed to be charged at about 80% the next morning.

Discussion on electricity prices

Electricity prices seem a very sensible theme with a lot of people. Also with Hossein’s dad, we had a discussion that, even though it might seem expensive, electricity prices in Iran are not at the level they are in Germany (1kWh costs between 0,02€ and 0,10€ in Iran, compared to 0,25€ to 0,30€ in Germany). Whenever we are charging somewhere, we always insist to pay for the Kilowatt-hours that we are consuming. After having it experienced before, we are a bit sensible when people try to exploit our need to get electricity. I guess it is a sensible topic and it might seem greedy, but for us it just seems like being used or tricked if people ask for a lot more money than they would have to pay themselves for electricity. Hossein’s dad wanted about 12€. That is as much as we would pay in Germany. On our ongoing journey through Iran, we hardly had anyone ask for money to let us charge anymore. Iranians are known for their hospitality. Maybe that made us even more puzzled to be asked for so much more than expected.

Since it was the night of the election results in Iran, Hossein was out celebrating the results and wasn’t at home to mediate between his dad and us. In the end, the problem was solved the next morning, when Hossein talked to his dad and we ended up paying a fair price (5€) for the kWh that we consumed.

We left Urmia with a car charged at 82% and headed east, crossing the Urmia lake (an environmental disaster in form of an almost tried out salt lake) to reach later that evening Maragheh.


 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
direct connection to one phase of electric meter 220V 1*20 amperes 4.5kW about 50kWh