On my last trip to Atyrau it become apparent that someone important was paying us a visit when the street furniture started being painted and pots of flowers appeared everywhere.
It turned out to be the impending visit of President Nazarbayev and my very own Prime Minister, David Cameron.
Things got much more comical when it transpired all the officials and hangers on where to stay in my hotel and that the Prime Minster and President would hold court in the ballroom.
Then this little gem appeared in my room!
Cue hotel revamp, more Union flags than I saw during the Queens Jubilee and a constant smell of fresh paint.
On the day of the visit the place went into lockdown. Airport style scanners where installed at the entrance to reception, scary looking fellas walked around talking into their lapels and the car park was being patrolled by the army and some muzzled Alsatians, eek!
The perimeter was fenced off and lots of bored looking Police in ‘flying saucer’ hats tried not to drift off.
Me and a bunch of motley looking oil guys pitched up at the reception bar to watch the dignitaries sweating in their suits and the hotel staff looking scared witless. I was itching to take some photos but had the distinct feeling that I’d be rugby tackled to the ground if I did.
I stuck it out for two hours in the hope of seeing the leaders arrive but unfortunately they were behind schedule and quite frankly I was bored to death and had consumed too many lattes!
The next day normal service was resumed.