Kazakhstan is a cosmopolitan place that borders the cultural crossroads between Asia and Europe. The vast country stretches from China to the Caspian Sea. It is one of Asia’s diverse cultures where Russians and Kazakhs border the Ukrainians, Tatars, Uzbeks, Germans, and scores of other cultures mix harmoniously.
Almaty is the country’s financial and cultural center and custodian of the essence. It is also the biggest city falling short of being the capital city after the young flash rival, Astana. The town sits amazingly below the snow-capped peaks of Zailysky-Alatau Mountains. It is pleasantly green and very relaxed with fountains, fancy malls, black-windowed SUVs and busy and pretty busy boulevards. The town is modern and a sophisticated hub for booming petro-economy, one that has many surprises that make Almaty the focus of any tour around Kazakhstan.
- The wonderful ski spot fit for royalty
The ski resort of Shymbulak is about 30 minutes drive from the city. In 2014 the resort became famous in when Prince Harry and his then-girlfriend Cressida Bonas went skiing on the slopes. It is ritzy and the sunny, chilly winters guarantee varying good conditions and crispy cold snow well into the month of April. The ski lifts leopard-print cabins are painted so in honor of the snow leopards that are rarely seen roaming the mountains. The 4kmseries of ski lifts run up to 3180 meters Talgar pass.
- You get to enjoy yourself along the Silk Road
The bustling green bazaar market halls, filled with traders from across far as Korea to central Asia gather to hawk are a fantastic way to get familiar with the multifaceted ethnic mix of Kazakhstan. The foothills near Almaty are said to be home to the apple fruit, and it is said to massive proportions. Almaty translates to “father of the apple”.
- The impressive socialist architecture and art
Soviet War Memorial in Almaty looms vividly in front of the city’s former army command center. The city’s finest museum, Kasteyev State Arts Museum, was named after Abilkhan Kasteev-Kazakhs greatest painter. Along with the huge collection is the intriguing room dedicated to his depiction of life in the former Soviet era from portraits of the peasant life to the canvases of the fast developing landscape.
- The second tallest wooden building in the world
Proudly standing in the leafy Panfilov Park is the Cathedral of the Holy Ascension; a mix of pastel-colored gables, a gilded dome and brightly painted tiles that rise 60m high. All built with no single nail.
- The Russian baths are the finest in Central Asia
The Arasan Bath’s complex in Almaty is the most highly styled bathhouse in this area. It was built in the early 1980s as a notable statement of the Soviet ambition. Pick your slippers, conical felt hat (shapka) and a towel and join fellow bathers in the fiercely hot Russian steam room (parilka). Bundles of birch or oak leaves (vyeniki) are used to thrash on each other. This wince-inducing practice is believed to improve circulation. From the parilka, you are to upturn over yourself a bucket of gasp-inducing cold water. To finish up a dip in cool plunge-pool under the domed atrium will leave you refreshed.
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Kally is a former Sales and Customer Service manager turned Writer and Founder of MiddleMe.net. She came from Singapore; lived in Shanghai and now calls Kuala Lumpur her home. After hanging up her corporate briefcase, she now pursue her passions – Writing, Traveling and of course, hunting for good food.
Connect with me @ Kally@ladyredot.com