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Sunday, 1 January 2017

Kazakhstan: Glimpses Of Almaty


My encounter with Almaty was sweet and memorable albeit a fleeting one. To begin with, the weather was simply superb around the time I was there. It was bright and sunny yet the autumn cool was comforting throughout the day. The clear blue sky with fluffy white clouds drifting above made for great photography. I got to enjoy its cityscape as well as its beautiful suburbs, tasted its unique cuisines and learned a thing or two about its culture. I wish I could experience and see more and might just come back to visit this place again.

Almaty was the capital city of Kazakhstan until 1997. Even though Astana is now the new capital, Almaty remains the largest city and the main commercial and cultural hub of the nation.
The city is as modern as other major cities with state-of-the-art monuments and high rises but at the edge of town you get to savor a magnificent rustic panorama as Almaty is set in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains which forms part of the Tian Shan Range. 
We passed by Nurly Tau Business centre at Al-Farabi Avenue. These gorgeous buildings are really shiny and glittery.
We also passed by Palace of the Pioneers (aka School Children’s Palace) which is a center for children education, sport training and creative work.
That's me enjoying the cool morning air at a park along Dostyk Avenue. The building behind is Kazakhstan Hotel where I stayed in Almaty. It is the city's 3rd tallest building. 
Beautiful flowers at the park.

My friends wanted to get some souvenirs and a hotel staff recommended the stores in a pedestrian underpass.  
This underpass which is constructed beneath a major intersection provides a safe passage for pedestrians but there are also small stores selling souvenirs and takeaway snacks lining the passageway. The things here are undoubtedly cheaper than in tourist destinations.
Inside a souvenir store.
The Kazakhs really honour their artists. There are a number of monuments and statues erected around the city to commemorate them. This is a statue of the poet Abai Qunanbaiuli. It is erected in front of the Palace of the Republic which houses the main and largest concert hall in Kazakhstan.
This is the monument of Zhambyl Zhabayev, a famous Kazakh traditional folksinger. There are many such monuments which form important landmarks in the city.
Visiting a small market place, I was looking out for fruits and vegetables that could be unique to this place but all are common stuff easily available back home.

I also visited Rakhat Chocolate Factory. This factory is a joint venture with Lotte of Korea.
There are so many types of chocolate sold here, one would be spoilt for choice.
This bar chocolate with light blue wrapper is touted to be the best. This is authentically Kazakh and I bought 2 bars.
Almaty is derived from the word 'Alma' which in Kazakh means apple. This fruit is also Almaty's symbol and appears everywhere throughout the city.

Just as a foreigner would be wondering why there is so much diversity in the appearance of Malaysians, I too was wondering the same thing in Almaty. I learned that Kazakhstan is made up of 130 ethnicity and was once occupied by Genghis Khan. That kind of answered my questions about the features of its people especially those with mongoloid look. Seen here is a woman selling vegetables on a bench. The Kazakhs I met do not like to be photographed.
Fountain at the main city square
Near the main city square
We passed by 'Thai' which is a very expensive Thai Restaurant in Almaty. 
A cute robot on the road up to Almaty's hill, Kok Tobe.
This is a mosque seen on the way up to Kok Tobe Hill. Kazakhstan is predominantly Muslim although you can find many churches and cathedrals.













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