summer + autumn 2o18
kazakhstan is the cute show-off among the stan states with its chieftain nursultan nazerbayev, who recently retired in grandfatherhood and boldly renamed the capital astana nur-sultan. he thought that he should on no account be forgotten, there being many who would be happy to do just that.
we reach almaty in the south. alice in wonderland sends her greetings. brilliant off-road vehicles dotted around the city like toy bricks, plus the dressed-up owners. glittering shopping malls, multi-lane, mirror-smooth streets and tall, shady parks invite you to linger, play chess, let off steam and ride your bike. hipsteresque latte macchiato strongholds, where the homogenous youth eagerly hits the smartphone keys and calls out the selfie alarm in all directions.
as a counterpart, the impressive, well-assorted, bustling green bazaar puts the traditional on the pedestal of everyday life. whether mega stores, bazaar or techno dom, it is all about demand, consumption and growing economy.
so we indulge in this crazy scenery and are stupidly intoxicated.
but we are grounded again at a place we have grown fond of, the european backpackers hostel. at this place an asian-european, cosmopolitan couple opens their doors to their magic home with a wonderful garden of eden, lovingly cared for by their dad. so no hostel in the usual format, more a big meeting with changing protagonists from all over the world. here you can find all kinds of interesting stories from different biographies and travel anecdotes. the melting pot of almaty.
the lungs are full of roaring metropolitan life, the spirit cries out for the fireworks of nature. alice in wonderland doesn’t miss out either. it throws a labyrinth-like sharyn canyon with marbled beige-reddish stone into the country, which is astonishing.
further downhill, shortly before the end of the horizon, unbelievably beautiful lakes break out of the laps of the mountains and, as if this was not enough, bright pink salt princess lakes flash across the vast wasteland.
just before mother earth goes to sleep from all the beauty, she shoots orange and pink into the sphere and dramatizes the endless sky of the country. such sunsets are only found in kazakhstan.
after so much splendour comes the real adventure and so we clatter across the steppe from south to north. thousands of kilometres of uncoloured earth, covered with waterless stalks that crack in two when run over. no lake, no river, no wind. what remains is the dead straight line between earth and sky with its thundering heavy-duty trucks and some wild car drivers who declare every surface a race track.
mean bumpy roads alternating with large holes in the asphalt and corrugated earth bring down the car spring at the front and the next day the leaf spring at the back. broken in the nothingness of this country.
in pavlodar the vehicle heroes are already waiting to get everything dependably up and running again.
who would have imagined it, the city is so pretty that it’s a delight. we dig our feet into the city beach, cool our bodies in the river irtyishly, feel our first big fish already biting at the fishing rod. there is no end to our joy.
we stroll along the old, decorated wooden houses, which alternate with coloured concrete giants, and at every corner a colourful playground peeks out.
kazakhstan, you are to be taken with humour, otherwise the clan will show up at the door.
you are deliciously amusing.