Kazakhstan trip report



At the receiving end of a huge unflattering publicity boost from the movie Borat, Kazakhstan is an enormous country in Central Asia with a fairly small population because much of the country is barely habitable. Many Kazakhs still live a semi-nomadic existence, moving with their herds into summer pastures every year. They eat and sleep in yurts, the ancient dwellings of the nomads, built of thick felt and wooden laths. They also drink a lot of kumis {fermented horse milk}. I was offered some on the way to Almaty, it was so bitter, it could have brought down a bull down. Kumis is rumoured to be an aphrodisiac, I definitely was in no frisky mood afterwards.



Almaty is the largest city in Kazakhstan, currently undergoing an economic boom thanks to the riches from the country's huge oil and mineral resources. The spoils are everywhere, swanky cars, lot of brand new buildings being constructed, and a shiny metro system. The city is set against an awesome backdrop of mountains. I took a drive to Almaty Lake, the scenery in the countryside was even better with towering mountains and wide open valleys.

Some of the sights in Almaty were:

  • Gorky Park, a big recreational park. It has boating lakes, funfair rides, an Aquapark, a zoo, several cafes, Dino Park and juice stands.
  • Panfilov Park named for the Panfilov Heroes, the 28 soldiers of an Almaty infantry unit who died fighting off Nazi tanks in a village outside Moscow during WWII.
  • Zenkov Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox cathedral located in Panfilov Park.
  • Green Bazaar, a large covered market selling anything and everything. One of the most interesting sections were the butchers, who hanged drawings of whatever animal's meat they were selling. There was beef, lamb, goat and horse. Turns out that Kazakhs really love their horse meat, and many restaurants in the city were serving horse dishes.