Bagdad should be retired. Technically he is, but there aren't any young people who can speak English and are interested in occasional seasonal work, so he still takes these tours. We head to Memorial Square and he gives me a crash course in Kazakh history including the story of 28 grenadiers who were called to the front line in the second world war and who found themselves having to fend off 40 advancing Nazi tanks.
In recognition of their bravery an enormous bold statue has been built next to the Church of Ascension, the tallest wooden building in the world to be built without the use of nails. It's an inspiring, colourful place, but K is still not happy - the eternal grey of the sky is sucking the light and life out of her shots. Not that that affects her enthusiasm. While I am immobilised by Britishness, she bounds up to perfect strangers and snaps away. Amazingly, in five days of this no one ever complains - in fact barely anyone bothers to ask why she is doing it; they simply stand looking confused or smile. To her annoyance, a lot of them also pose, ruining any chance of a natural shot.
From the square, we head to the hills to visit Medeu ice rink, a mountain-based facility that during the days of the Soviet Union saw over 120 world records broken. It's just behind a man-made avalanche barrier which only a couple of years after building was completed, saved the city from certain disaster when an earthquake dislodged a deadly deluge of snow and rock. Next we head to Chimbulak Ski Resort 2200m above sea level, where the 2011 Asian Winter Games will be held. When we reach the base of the run, one skier tells us that if we get the lift to the first station, there is daylight. Sceptical but without a great deal else to do, we head up.
I let the lift bang into the back of my bad knee as it scoops us up and launches us up the slope. Suddenly the lift stops and from somewhere below there is someone shouting "Jeem! Jeem!" I look round - we haven't pulled the safety barrier down and Bagdad is panicking.
Soon we are in the gloom, quietly passing over pine trees. The only thing to permeate the cold white blanket is the occasional scything of a snowboard somewhere in the distance. We are in an all-encompassing silence as we travel through the milky sky. I take some photos, but we've both accepted that we have been lied to.
Yet no sooner have we voiced our scepticism than soft yellow disc appears in the sky. A moment later we are breaking through the grey, ascending above the clouds. It's extraordinarily beautiful, almost overwhelming. I can almost feel the moment searing into my brain. The views of snowy mountain peaks and the great sea of grey below us are genuinely breathtaking. I spend a moment sitting on a wooden fence just being grateful, grateful, grateful while K takes dozens of pictures.
Some minutes later, almost incomprehensibly, I feel my pocket vibrating. The number is from Dubai. I reluctantly answer and can immediately feel my ecstasy draining. It's the bank. There's been a problem with my wages. Something about an incorrect account number. I have no money.
I consider throwing the thing into the clouds, but instead just hang up and stuff it back in my pocket. The fresh snow shimmers around my feet like so much glitter. I let out a sigh - no matter how far I travel, no matter how fast I run or how high I climb, I can never escape it.