Traveling invokes a lot of questions, a question I’m often asked is why I travel?! I already mentioned few reasons in previous posts, but one is incredibly important to me. It’s meeting the local people.
I’ve been so lucky to meet great people during my travels. With the ones I bonded I still keep in touch even though we live in different parts of the world. Knowing locals in a new country is priceless. In Kazakhstan I had a person who made room for me in his busy life, made my trip flow easier, made me feel safe and comfortable. I love to connect with different characters around the world, people that could become my friends for life. They make me see life in a different way. I will always be grateful for the time someone has set for me.
I learned a lot about Kazakhstan through local people. Maybe my favourite activity in Almaty was hitchhiking (catch the transport), such a local custom. You just need to step to the street, raise your arm, and someone will stop and ask you where you’re going. Easy like that. The second part is a bit harder. English is not an option for negotiations, since everyone is talking Russian or Kazakh. In bad Russian combined with all the languages I know (including the body language) I managed to negotiate price and location. I have no idea how to describe the conversations with drivers, those have always been fun and entertaining. Or maybe I didn’t understand them well.
Almaty’s layout is like a grid. South is up (where the mountains are), north is down. Forget all of those perceptions you had, Almaty has very cosmopolitan feel with soviet touch, shiny new skyscrapers, modern metro system, nice bars and restaurants. Tradition of exchanging goods can be found on Green bazaar (Zelyony bazaar), maze of shops selling everything from clothing, jewellery, to horse meat and fruit. What is the point of traveling to you? Is it about meeting people or tasting new food? In Kazakhstan you can experience both at the same time.
TIP: Learn the Cyrillic alphabet before you head to Kazakhstan. It’s not necessary, but can help a lot.
I hope you like this little photo diary I put together to share my time adventuring through Almaty. Let me know if you have visited Kazakhstan and how did you like it. If anyone has any feedback I’d be so appreciative to receive your comments and questions below.