A Month in Kazakhstan
The first and strongest impression of Kazakhstan 🇰🇿 was:
Wow, it's so extremely spacious and uncrowded.
All the public spaces: airports, train stations, city centers weren't hustling and bustling. It seemed as if suddenly everyone departed for a vacation to another country. And those who stayed were on a vacation too. No-one were in a hurry. The atmosphere was relaxing.
The feeling of vast areas appeared to be also typical for the well-built modern highways. It seemed that only a few cars were using the roads crossing enormous Kazakh Steppe when we were driving through it.
During our stay in Kazakhstan, we got used to the feeling of relaxation and peacefulness. Even the process of tickets-buying at the railway stations was a calm and comfortable procedure (with a plenty of seats always available). It was absolutely stress-free, contrasting with the tense experiences we used to often have at our country.
One of the memorable places in Kazakhstan was a cafe at the capital's railway station. We were wandering around, looking for a warm food, and eventually found it at the lower-ground floor of the station. Everyone in that cafe were drinking a common drink of the country, Kazakh Chai, which was a sweetened tea with milk (sometimes it's made with salt and butter).
Notably, at that cafe we sensed a tone of the USSR-like environment. The exact reason for that was unclear. But probably it was caused by the mix of the details: the worn-out furniture, shabby walls, the clothes and facial expressions of the locals, humble menu of two dishes: scrambled eggs and manti (steamed dumplings, typically filled with the lamb meat). By the way, this was a striking feature of Kazakhstan for us: it was difficult to find fruits, and seemed everyone around cooked and ate mostly, if not always, meat-and-paste dishes. It was tested on ourselves that such a diet, combined with the Kazakhstanis' hospitality, can result in gaining more weight.
Astana (Nur-Sultan since 2019) is the capital city of Kazakhstan. It's a relatively small and quiet city with several interesting edifices to spend some time staring at and visiting.
The Astana airport is a clean, beautiful and comfortable place. Its shape made us think of a UFO and a space station.
A direct bus from the airport to the train station goes across Astana, so it can be used for both the transportation and sightseeing right after the arrival.
In the city center, three tall curved buildings (called Emerald Towers) were the first ones to draw our attention to. Looking at them, one starts to wonder: why wouldn't they fall? But then realizes that the buildings' load-bearing elements are straight and solid. Those are the decorations that create the illusion of curvatures.
Baiterek is the symbol of the city. This is an observation tower, which has an elevator to take anyone willing to the top of the structure. A beautiful view of the city center opens up from there.
Khan Shatyr is quite remarkable looking at it for the outside. It's made in the shape of a tilted tent. Inside, it's an ordinary shopping mall.
And there is also the Oceanarium, located at the farthest from the ocean spot in the world. This is the first place where a shark gave birth in captivity. We found this place to be nice and informative.
Shchuchinsk and Borovoye
Resort Borovoye located in 250 kilometers from Astana. This resort seems to be well-known in Kazakhstan. We stayed in a nearby town Shchuchinsk. The nature is beautiful in the area. It has clean fresh air, picturesque lakes and mountains.
Karaganda and Temirtau
Well, we have decided to never come here again. The reason is simple: we don't think it's healthy to breathe the air one can see and which smells of chemicals (especially in Temirtau). Other than that, both Karaganda and Temirtau seemed to be fairly ordinary cities with typical Soviet-era buildings.
Here, the surrounding mountains impress powerfully. Many places in and near Almaty are charming, especially the ones located on the heights. Unfortunately, the air in the area was a bit dusty during our visit. This was probably caused by insufficient movements of air in the foothills.
The picturesque photo above was taken at the Almaty International Airport take-off runaway, right before boarding a plane departing to India 🇮🇳.