Almaty: Fountains and Steppe
Almaty (pop 1.5 million)
Kazakhstan (18 million)
October 7, 2018
Clear and Cool
When I planned my trip to Kazakhstan, I never expected to be almost immobile after I arrived. I should have checked the elevation of Almaty, my first stop. (700-900 m or 2300-3000 ft)
For two or three days I am quite dizzy and barely able to leave my hotel room except to eat lunch and dinner at a nearby restaurant and to buy a Kazakhstan SIM card at the local telephone company.
I do manage to visit the State Museum and to have dinner with my charming Facebook friend Sardana and her friend and their young daughters.
Downtown Almaty is spotlessly clean with wide, carefully-tiled sidewalks and broad boulevards with patient and considerate traffic. Shopkeepers and restaurant staff are welcoming and make every effort to assist this non-Russian speaking visitor.
Of course, I carry my Wordless Travel Book and point to the illustrations of chicken or beef or soup. (Easier than apps on my phone.) I do know the Russian words for water (voda) and milk (moloko). Coffee or tea here is kafe-chai.
In 1911, Almaty suffered a 7.7 magnitude earthquake that reduced the city to rubble. It’s rebuilt now with modern, yet low office buildings, shops and apartments, all with attractive stone exteriors. Occasional multi-story shopping malls pop up. And as I said before, everything is orderly and clean – not a speck of litter anywhere in town.
And as I have witnessed in other countries, especially the Caucasus’s and former Soviet republics, everyone wears neat and stylish clothing. Young and old sport bright, totally clean shoes or smart boots for the approaching winter months.
Surrounded by this amiable and immaculate modernity, my camera is frustrated. What to shoot?
Finally, I realize that downtown Almaty is sprinkled with fountains.
On my quest to capture the sprays, I chat-up a lovely woman enjoying a quiet moment in the fresh air. I meet an energetic group of medical students taking a break from their books. I spend time with a young woman eager to speak English. I spy a pair of lovers hiding behind a curtain of water. And is that a grown woman riding her son’s scooter?
There’s always something interesting to shoot.
There’s more. Much more in KZ.
First stop on my tour: The Steppe – the Boundless Grasslands of Central Asia.