Blogs from Kazakhstan, Asia

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Asia » Kazakhstan » Kyzylorda April 26th 2015

Yes, I spent 36 hours in the train! It was a comfortable train with berths to sleep on, including their linen, blankets and pillows. The people I met in the train, from my own compartment and also from neighbouring compartments, were very friendly and of course many of them took pictures with me. These people shared their food and drinks with me, even though it was not easy to communicate with most of them. A truly great experience with warm, friendly and hospitable Kazakh people. After 36 hours I arrived in Aralsk and it was around 8am. My guide, Zhasulan, was already waiting at the station and he took me to my home-stay where I took a shower and had a nap on a proper bed. I was treated very well by the family and my ... read more
Zhalanash shipyard; remnants of a ship sitting on what used to be the bottom of the Aral Sea
Driving through the Aral Sea area; a vast emptiness
Almaty 1 station, where I took the train

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

I flew with Air Astana to Kazakhstan. The local carrier has most of its fleet registered on our neighbouring island of Aruba, with the code “P4”. Almaty is the largest city in Kazakhstan and the former capital with about 1.5 million people. Astana is the capital since 1997 but I did not go there because it’s the second coldest capital in the world and I’m not really friends with the cold. Even though it was early spring, the weather in Almaty wasn’t too cold! I think curiosity (as a Geography teacher) was the main reason for me to visit this country. The five “Stans” (part of the former Soviet Union) are very unknown and mysterious for most people because not so many people visit the region: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. You hardly hear anything ... read more
Charyn Canyon
Almaty
View of the Himalaya's in northeastern Pakistan, enroute from New Delhi to Almaty

Asia » Kazakhstan » Southern Kazakhstan November 17th 2014

On Air Astana to Delhi November 16 2014 I am beginning to understand what the Queen feels like since we have been treated like royalty in Almaty for the last three days. This is entirely due to Samat and Mira who had looked after us with fantastic Kazakhstan hospitality. I had asked Ilmir, who had been a key contact at Merck when I was managing the account at Aesica and was a native of Kazakhstan, if he knew anyone in Almaty we could meet to learn about the city. He contacted an old school friend who suggested his wife's cousin, Samat. Little did we realise how well this meant we would be looked after. Samat works at the Ministry of Finance and had just moved to Almaty from Astana six months previously. His family, his wife ... read more
The couple ready to walk down the aisle
The war memorial
Making house meat sausage at the Green Market

Asia » Kazakhstan » East Kazakhstan » Almaty October 25th 2014

In Almaty, I met Rinato of couchsurfing. It was that day Saturday and we decided to go out to a good bar/club. Rinato told me that he had a problem he had not received his salary. And he wanted to pay because I was a guest. He had an idea and asked me if it would be okay for me to drive for two hours as a taxi. In Kazakhstan, it is possible to use your own car for taxi. In two hours we deserved what is 2000 Kazakh tenge was reasonable enough for some beers :)) Awesome :))) practically it was a good evening and a separate experience :)) Rinato was very hospitable and his mother was also very nice and very caring I stayed a few days with them. And they invited me to ... read more

Asia » Kazakhstan » Pavlodar October 16th 2014

Lucky me // Meet this Kazakh man "Kenjebey" at my hitchhike trip from Pavlodar to Astana. Actually he was riding to Ekibastuz 80km from Pavlodar on the way to Astana. I told well thanks you can drop me on the highway and i will find a another car in Ekibastuz. But no he said: "i am gonna buy you a bus ticket to ASTANA!" Actually first he took me to a quite good restaurant and said "oh you also must be hungry. let's go to a good place for some dinner" Offered me a great dinner.. So after he took me to the bus station.. Buyed me a bus ticket to Astana. And give me 10.000 Kazakh tenge! Wauw i was surprised..... read more

Asia » Kazakhstan » Southern Kazakhstan » Shymkent September 17th 2014

Sept 16-18th Turkestan. We were scheduled to drive from Zhabagvly village thru to Shymkent this morning, but things didn't quite go to plan. The first car reportedly had a dodgy front wheel, so we only made it to the next village where we changed cars and driver, and headed off to Shymkent. Just 10kms along the road this car experienced fairly serious engine failure ie it jerked to a halt with the smell of petrol. The empty looking petrol indicator didn't seem to be the trouble according to the driver as he peered under the bonnet with a lighted cigarette in his mouth ! Eventually they called up a replacement vehicle and we were finally on our way - this time successfully arriving in Shymkent about noon. Shmykent is perhaps best known for Khazackhstan's best local ... read more
Yasaui Mausoleum
Yasaui Mausoleum
Yasaui Mausoleum


Sept 14 and 15. had a great train ride in a 2 bunk sleeper compartment on Kazakh Railways on train #33 leaving Almaty 2 at 2133 and arriving on the dot at Tulkibas station at 0927. Was meet by our guide for the 2 days and a Russian made Lada Niva 4WD jeep, so roared off to our home stay. The Asku - Zhabagvly Nature Reserve is one of the largest Nature Reserves in Khazakhstan at 13000 sq kms, and 'allegedly' is the home to a vast number of birds, and animals including bears, ibex, marmots, fixes, wolves, goats, boars, etc. It is crushingly dry and this excludes weeds that simply can't hack the conditions. Lots of plants,biodiversity is immense 1,400 flowering plants.....some surprising...the clear ancestor of our beloved Rhubarb for example. A few remaining flowers...many ... read more
Mountain Erebus butterfly
Berberis berries
Original Rhubarb

Asia » Kazakhstan » Southern Kazakhstan September 10th 2014

Sept 10th. After a very pleasant flight on Air Astana from Bishkek to Almaty, we arrived at an excellent Guesthouse called 'Guesthouse on Sadoyva' ( highly recommended ). Almaty sightseeing was the plan for today, so off we went first to see the Russian state puppet theatre where we were able to watch a Puppet show. Quick jaunt around the main shopping bazaar called the Green market where we were able to resist any purchases. Next door to the bazaar was the Central mosque - a recently built mosque that had stunning blue mosaics on the domes. The centrally Panfilov park is beautiful, and dominated by the candy coloured Russian Orthodox Zenkov Cathedral. Built in 1904 entirely of wood (even the nails were made if wood), the Cathedral was one of the few large Tsarist-era structures ... read more
Impressive Russian War memorial statue Almay
Shimbulak Ski resort
Arasan Bathhouse Lobby Almaty - sorry inside photos are all X rated !!

Asia » Kazakhstan » Karaganda August 22nd 2014

Just 600km ride south to Balkhash lake, so arrived in city 2pm. Beach in city is quite bad with broken glass & rubbish, lake is still cool & refreshing - not salty. Took Vitaliy's advice, went to resort further south, Chubar Tubliek I think. But 'Butlins' describes it better, beach kept near perfect, so both beaches have fresh water, but same lake is very salty - probably 100km futher east and 1.4km deep. Vladimir and Ludmiller, a young couple from Germany looked after me after poseing for photos on bike. Much drink, food & banter. Early swim then south to Almaty, but must taken 4hrs to get past southern portion of lake, suppose this why is 12th largest lake in world.... read more
Resort huts
beach at resort
Ludmilla from Gottingen Germany.

Asia » Kazakhstan » East Kazakhstan » Almaty August 22nd 2014

I have been told much about Almaty, a city next to Himilaya mountains. Did manage to buy some gloves and knee pads from KTM (black bike trousers too hot). But spare front tyre - they must have special deal for foriginers, jumped 40% when I found 'free wheels' bike place. But other issue is numerous roads where Motorcycles are banned, ring road & road up to hills. This 'caused my first brush with law, while trying to join ring road. Pull me in shortly demand $100, accept 50, bit cross with each other for accepting bribe, but tell me was OK. One way or another, I drove up hills to south of city past 'no bike' sign, was immediately cooler, right up past place Modeo & to top of ski lift, slept out at 2500m - ... read more
Charyn Gorge
river in gorge
Gorge scenery.




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