Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Glimpses from Almaty, Kazakhstan

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.

Some highlights:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Our hotel was what one would call "Soviet chic" - drab, chintzy, full of tschotskes and non-functioning, seemingly superfluous fixtures.
  5. The local grocery store: camel milk, lots of Kazakhstan candies, dark brown bread, and being reprimanded by staff for taking pictures.


  1. looks like a fun trip! did you try the camel milk? did the hookers get the wrong hotel room or something? :)

  2. Hi, Jennifer. The hookers call all the rooms where guests stay, I guess.

  3. Sounds like an amazing trip!


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