It turns out I could not access blogger from either Kazakhstan or China. And so I am going to have to reconstruct my trip from the bits and pieces of memory that haven't already been erased and the few pictures I was able to take.
Almaty is a pleasant city. The connotations of post-Soviet structures -- which I associate with memories of central Russia and Mongolia (and which I secretly crave), which Ethan associates with his layover in Kyiv, Ukraine -- didn't hold up. The city was quaint, with a walking boulevard and park running through it and so much green space. With the exception s of the hookers calling our hotel room, my interactions with locals were lovely, and everyone we met was helpful and warm.
I'm pretty horrible at capturing the big tourist sites (i.e., I am lazy), and I much prefer capturing daily life that strike me on my wanderings in the city. And that is what we did.
- One day, we wandered around the city and came across Panfilov Heroes Memorial Park, a memorial to World War II -- and quite the place for newlyweds to take pictures. That day, we counted at least 10 wedding entourages traipsing through the park. That day was a taste of summer, as I remember it: melting ice cream, walking in the park, flowers, trees, a bright, warm day.
- To beat the heat that day, we stopped at a small fountain with a view of the snow-capped Almaty Mountains and dipped our feet in the cold water.
- On another day, after our plan to see the theatre was curbed, we walked up to the hill, past the golden gilded mosque, to sample a view of the city and to have a picnic. Prior to the walk, we raided the local grocery store and bought beet salad (yum), a local cheese (not so yum), freshly baked, dark brown bread, cookies, and a bottle of red wine. We found a bench, had our picnic, read our books, took a nap.
- Our hotel was what one would call "Soviet chic" - drab, chintzy, full of tschotskes and non-functioning, seemingly superfluous fixtures.
- The local grocery store: camel milk, lots of Kazakhstan candies, dark brown bread, and being reprimanded by staff for taking pictures.