Blogs from East Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan, Asia


Asia » Kazakhstan » East Kazakhstan » Almaty September 25th 2015

Almaty under blue skies and autumn sunshine. In the wide tree-lined boulevards, the leaves are turning orange and gold. To the north the city has an impressive backdrop, the Tian Shan mountains, rising to about 5,000 metres and already snow covered. It is our first Silk Road city and interestingly mixed. Many buildings date from the Soviet era, some are neo-classical and hugely imposing but others are grey and falling apart. Shinier are the new glass high rises, built with gold tops or points that make them look like little upright pencils. There is oil money here in this huge country, the 9th biggest in the world And there are, also, beautiful old buildings - churches and mosques mainly. Gaily painted or gilt domed, their beauty and craftsmanship are stunning and all the more impressive when ... read more
St Nicholas Cathedral
Kazak man
St Nicholas Cathedral interior

Asia » Kazakhstan » East Kazakhstan » Almaty September 11th 2015

We leave on Monday to travel the Silk Route through Central Asia. We will start in Almaty in Kazakhstan and then travel on through Kyrgyzstan, then Uzbekistan and on to our final destination of Ashgabat in Turkmenistan. On route we will be hiking and wild camping in the foothills of the Tian Shan mountains. At Song Kul lake we will stay in traditional yurts before a few nights with local families. Then onward to explore the fabled Silk Route cities of Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. Finally we will cross the wild Karakum Desert. We might also get to the state opera and see Carmen! Internet access could be a little intermittent but, whenever we can, we will be blogging.... read more

Asia » Kazakhstan » East Kazakhstan » Almaty September 7th 2015

Restful night's sleep. We will be sleeping better tonight. Since we arrived in Almaty we have been so grateful for all the things the school has provided except... our mattress. It is the hardest bed we have ever slept on! We finally got a mattress topper. We asked around at the famous Almaty Green Market but we were misunderstood. One lady selling blankets and pillows got her son on the phone, who spoke great English and she wrote down on a piece of paper in Cyrillic what we were looking for. So a few stalls later we met Achmed. He was a doctor in Afghanistan and studied in Canada. He was more than helpful. In fact, before we knew it we were walking to his car and he drove us to a store - walked in ... read more
Kazakh money
Kazakh money
A mosque near our apartment

Asia » Kazakhstan » East Kazakhstan » Almaty September 2nd 2015

We arrived in the town of Kurmenty and unpacked the van and the driver went back to Almaty to get the transmission fixed with something besides bailing wire. We were treated to a traditional Kazakh dinner in the home of one of our guides family members. The meal consisted of Beshbarmak: The national dish of Kazakhstan means ‘five fingers’ referring to the fact that it is eaten by hand. It consists of boiled meat (traditionally horse but nowadays often lamb) and large noodles that look like sheets of lasagna in an onion gravy/broth. Ours was made with fresh killed lamb. Along with our meal we had Buarsak a traditional fried roll. A little Black Currant jelly and you have a doughnut a little gravy from the meat a dinner roll. Delicious meal!! After dinner we were ... read more
Kurmenty, Kazakhstan
Kurmenty, Kazakhstan
Kurmenty, Kazakhstan

Asia » Kazakhstan » East Kazakhstan » Almaty September 1st 2015

Well we had a 3 day weekend this week. Yesterday, 31st of August was constitution day. A group of teachers and spouses/children went on a trip to some of the National parks and sights near to us. Our first stop was to Charyn Canyon National Park. We left Almaty with our group in a 18 passenger M. Benz tour bus and just after getting out of the town limits we lost a couple gears on the transmission. The driver found a place to stop and after a hour of so delay he had the linkage bailing wired back on and we were back on our way again. Once you get out of town the roads here leave a lot to be desired to say the least. They can range from pot-holed semi paved to nothing but ... read more
Charyn Canyon National Park, Kazakhstan
Charyn Canyon National Park, Kazakhstan
Charyn Canyon National Park, Kazakhstan

Asia » Kazakhstan » East Kazakhstan » Almaty August 23rd 2015

a few updates:from Kim....The first day we were here, the school had bought some groceries for us. a large bottle of yellow liquid ( looked like juice or tea).... Dave took a big swig! it was cooking oil! haha. We had a box that had a picture of foamy ocean waves, we thought it was laundry soap- nope- salt. oh well, I heard that salt can clean out a dirty washing machine. We don't have a dryer- but a clothes drying rack out on the balcony worked well- we need to buy fabric softener! The people are stoic - but it isn't in a rude way- the city is big and they drive like maniacs- making three lane as from two- there are very few beggars or drunks on the streets- the women dress really nice- ... read more
First day flowers
Roses in the dining room

Asia » Kazakhstan » East Kazakhstan » Almaty August 21st 2015

After 3 flights, 2 layovers, and 36 hours we made it here. We were picked up at the airport by the director or the school where Kim is teaching and taken to our apartment. The city is quite big compared to good old Northern Idaho. The traffic will take some getting use to. People drive like a bunch of ants on their way to food. If they have a inch to squeeze into they will and make 3 lanes where it is 2. Haven't decided if I'm going to try to drive here. There are many ways to get around here; bus, subway, taxi and good old walking. After a quick shower and a hour to unwind we went to the school and were given a quick tour. After we meet the directors and some of ... read more

Asia » Kazakhstan » East Kazakhstan » Almaty August 21st 2015

Asia » Kazakhstan » East Kazakhstan » Almaty July 28th 2015

Preparing for our year in Kazakhstan. Visa's are in process, house is slowly being packed and getting some last northern Idaho adventures in. Our departure date in August 8th. We are both looking forward to this adventure.... read more

Asia » Kazakhstan » East Kazakhstan » Ust-Kamenogorsk July 16th 2015

I wasn't sure really what I was expecting from Kazakhstan's Western Altai region. Not doing a whole lot of research beforehand, I was kind of under the assumption that it would be similar culturally to the other Central Asian nomadic areas I've been to. Not so! However, despite a few setbacks and a rather unfortunate encounter with the local mafioso, it was quite an eye opener and ended up being an amazing experience. I knew getting into the countryside here would be difficult, especially given the proximity of the area to two sensitive international borders; to plan my trip, I contacted several local contacts posted by the Ecotourism Kazakhstan NGO. Only one of these replied to me - a Mr. Dimitri Grigoriev. He told me that he could arrange the necessary border permits and arrange both ... read more
Poperechnoe festival
Crossing the river, Poperechnoe festival
Poperechnoe festival

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