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5 travelers at this place
  • Day28

    Kosten Kazachstan

    August 5, 2018 in Kazakhstan ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    Wie zich afvraagt hoe duur Kazachstan is, kan hieronder een overzicht van onze kosten zien. We leggen ook kort uit op welke manier we gereisd hebben.

    Gemiddeld gaven we 62€/dag uit, mooi onder ons vooropgestelde budget van 80€/dag.

    Qua transport ging de grootste brok naar ons vliegticket van Brussel naar Almaty. Met AirBaltic vlogen we eerst in 2u naar Riga en van daaruit in 5u naar Almaty. Zeer comfortabele vluchten en slechts 180€ pp. In Almaty deden we veel te voet, daarnaast namen we af en toe de (zeer goedkope) bus of een taxi (via de Yandex app). Voor verplaatsingen van enkele uren is een shared taxi het gemakkelijkst, de verste verplaatsing naar Aksu deden we met de trein (12u).

    Slapen deden we telkens in een 2-persoonskamer, meestal met gedeelde badkamer. Een keer probeerden we een slaapzaal met meerdere bedden. Dit is goedkoper maar wij hebben toch liever wat meer rust en privacy. Op onze uitstappen buiten Almaty lagen we altijd in onze tent.

    Ontbijt werd steeds voorzien door onze hostels. ’s Middags aten we meestal een snack of wat brood en ’s avonds gingen we uit eten. Buiten Almaty kookten we zelf ons potje of lieten we ons bedienen in de guesthouses.

    Onze activiteiten regelden we meestal zelfstandig. Enkel voor Charyn canyon boekten we een tour (via Blast tours) en in het Aksu natuurreservaat regelde Ruslan Tours een gids omdat dit verplicht was.
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  • Day2


    July 3, 2017 in Kazakhstan ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    At Almaty's green market. Sprawling 2 floor, full block complex of interlocking buildings. We enter through the fruit section, berries, cherries, oranges, peaches and melons. Each area it's a different product group, with each product sold by a different ethnicity. The Russian's control the milk/ cheese and meats, the Uzbeck import nuts and dried fruits, Koreans have salads and pickled vegetables, there's also a whole floor of cheap Chinese goods.Read more

  • Day4

    Almaty city tour

    July 5, 2017 in Kazakhstan ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    After another breakfast in the Disco yurt, we head out as a group on a city tour. We start out walking to the church and learn that it is built completely out of wood, as earthquake protection.  During the communist years, the church was turned into the museum of atheism, then a theater, now restored to it's full glory. The church has a completely different feel from when the service was going on.  We walk to the eastern part of the park and see the massive war memorial, mother Russia and the 15 republic's.  Sheer strength.  The memorial also has an eternal flame. We walk out to the street and board the bus and drive through a series of memorials and fountains.  With independence, Kazakhstan searched out local heroes to honor and built monuments in the Russian style.  We drive back to the hotel and I set out with Canela and Anne for lunch.  We dine at an Israeli street food shop, which has a complete israeli menu and feel minus any actual Israelis.  Food is delicious, salads, Shwarma, and falafel and hummus.  For Canela's sake we walk to Almaty's first Starbucks, complete with cute barista who speaks English - a rarity in our experiences. I walk into the hamam and contemplate a massage but instead opt back to the hotel for a short rest.  I had out at about 6pm and sit in the plaza by the church, it is quite a scene.  There are many families, toy electric cars that they can pay to ride, a small train, cotton candy vendor, bubble makers, and feed for the pigeons. I hang for awhile, then head back, pick up canela and we sit at an outside terrace - American style food shop that serves sushi and burgers.   I get fried rice along with a milk shake topped with an Oreo, Carmel corn and m&M'sRead more

  • Day8


    August 29, 2018 in Kazakhstan ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    I didn’t do much on my first day because I was so tired. The train arrived at 10:15 a.m. and as its an internal service there is no security or immigration check. I was in the main hall a few minutes after the train arrived. First thing I did was find little cafe and have a cup of coffee and some breakfast. I hadn’t eaten at all the previous day. This was because of bad planning but also because I like to have a mini-fast once a week or so. Then there’s the whole logistics of eliminating waste products. You don’t wanna even go there on Kazakh trains.

    I checked into my hotel almost immediately. They were very helpful and allowed me in before official check-in time. I had a shower, changed my socks and underwear and unpacked. This is very easy due to my using packing cubes, as mentioned earlier.

    Talking briefly about underwear, I think I might be adopting some Mormon tendencies. I’m looking for magic garments. As I travel light, I have a wear one and a spare one policy with most clothes so need clothes that will stand the rigour of travel, be good at the underwear stuff, be olfactory neutralising and, importantly, wash and dry in a few hours. Ordinary Marks and Sparks or Dunnes Stores boxers will not do this so I got a 2 pairs from USA. They cost a few bob but worth it. They work a treat. I can get a weeks sweaty wear out of a pair and they’re still fresh as a daily. A pretty traumatised daisy, mind you, but a daisy of a sort nevertheless.

    Then I started looking for a magic shirt that would have similar qualities to the above but would also make me look about 7kg lighter. I found one in a shop in Dublin at an almost give-away price as the summer season was coming to an end. It has SPF50 protection, two big front pockets, foldable neck shield, long sleeves, anti mosquito bite and a whole load of other qualities. It’s made by Columbia. I’ve been wearing it since Wednesday last, 10 days now, and even slept sweatily in it twice. It’s still fresh as the proverbial daisy. It’s dark blue so doesn’t show the dirt. A result!

    However, I’m going to wash it tonight as I’ve started noticing, just out of the corner of my eye, that it’s beginning to develop independent motion. I don’t want it to become sentient. Then I’d be in a pickle.

    And then there’s the socks. I got a single pair of Arctic merino socks for when it gets seriously cold. I wore them in Siberia last year when it was sub-zero. They were great. But they’re not magic, just fabulous. The magic ones are liners I got for the thermal ones and they dry quickly, don’t smell, etc etc. I also wear them as main socks when the weather is average. They’re great with sandals when it’s hot. I know, I know, you’re not supposed to wear socks with sandals but I’m so old now the fashion police ignore me. They don’t even register me. Blessed invisibility. They are grey, though.

    I have no magic trousers. I never quite got to the bottom of that. Mind you, I saw many a pair of trousers I’d like to magic off other people. But that’s another story and not for a family audience, like here.

    But, back to the hotel. It was a very soviet era establishment where shabby chic definitely wasn’t an interior design choice. It was evolutionary, probably from a revolutionary time. Sorry, couldn’t resist that. I had what was called a suite but was really a huge room with an enormous bed and air conditioning. The electrical sockets were hanging off the walls and all had scorch marks on them. There was a smell of burning rubber and bakelite when I switched the kettle on. And so on and on. I found myself starting to grumble internally and stopped this in time. Chill, babe, I said to myself, just go with the flow. It’s all adventure, experience. And, you know, it worked. I laughed at myself for being a bit of a silly goose and started to enjoy the differences and idiosyncrasies of the place. It was cheap too, at 11€ a night, with breakfast. I eventually got a smile from the formidable looking woman provodnitsa at the front desk. She was Russian!

    After my shower, I went out exploring but first went to get a Kazakhstan SIM card for my phone. They’re incredibly cheap here. The woman at the hotel pointed me to a tech market nearly and as I was waiting in the queue, it’s an ex-soviet country so queues are inevitable, I had a delightful giggling interaction from a lovely old babushka next to me. Her standard of English was similar to my Russian but we stíll communicated. She had the most stunning set of full top and bottom gold teeth, they looked amazing. I got SIM and 2GB internet for less than 2€. It’s 4G and fast, quicker than Dublin.

    The Kazakh people are extremely friendly, in my experience and according to my research. There are two main types of people here, to my untrained eye, European Russians and Turkic people who are the original indigenous inhabitants of this part of the world. There are also Chinese and some other peoples I don’t recognise.

    The traffic here is fierce. They travel at a great rate of knots and there are many crashes. I saw several during my time here but nobody seemed to be hurt. I was on a bus on my first day and the driver was driving crazily while texting and beeping his horn. Brrr.

    The roads are in great condition, at least in the inner city but the suburbs are not so bad as well. There are traffic light controlled pedestrian crossings at every junction and the rules are respected. Although the traffic looked fearsome, I felt safe crossing the roads. It’s a bit hairier when there’s no pedestrian crossing. Instead, they paint crossing lines on the street but the cars don’t stop until you step in front of them. I was very nervous about found this at first as it looked almost suicidal but I soon got used to it. Now I just walk in front of cars and they stop. Drivers are pretty irritable and rev their engines and play chicken but stop eventually. They also shoot past as soon as you’ve passed frequently missing you by centimetres. Once I thought it was not personal, I thought it funny. It’s still a bit nerve-wracking, all the same, especially when I wonder is that eejit speeding right at me on his mobile phone now. But I survive!

    There is some mammoth building work going on in the city centre at the moment with thousands of workers making the place pedestrian friendly and green. They’re doing a great job.
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  • Day9


    August 30, 2018 in Kazakhstan ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

    I didn’t do a lot of touristy stuff, mainly everyday local interactions and observations and walking about to get the feel of the city and its beating heart. As its my first week in Asia I thought I’d pace myself. I didn’t see any cathedrals or palaces but took a, out of buses around the city and noticed how things work and how people interact; about the differences and similarities between Kazakhstan and Ireland or should I say, between Almaty and Dublin.

    That’s about it. There’s, loads more I could write as I’ve seen a lot of things and made, it’s of connections but just haven’t the time to write it all up. Also, I’m trying, with middling success, to focus on process and not just content.

    Sorry I have no pics and there’s just this huge expanse of text. Although the Internet is on my phone I can’t use it as a hotspot to connect my tablet. I write the blog on the tablet and the hotel WiFi is glacially slow so I can it download any images.

    Off tomorrow morning to Bishkek, in the mysterious mountain world of Kyrgyzstan and to the World Nomad Games in Cholpon Ata on the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul. This is the real ancient Central Asia.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Äūezov, Auezov