5 Reasons You Should Visit Almaty

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.

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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.

  1. 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.

  1. You get to enjoy yourself along the Silk Road

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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”.

 

  1. The impressive socialist architecture and art

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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.

  1. The second tallest wooden building in the worldnki

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.

  1. 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.

Want to go on an exotic tour with us? Drop us a note at askus@ladyredot.com


Kally

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

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Street Food in Manila

If you are in Manila, be sure to brave the streets and try the street food. Why not? They say the best way to appreciate and learn the culture of a foreign place is by immersion, and that includes trying out what locals do or eat. Convinced? Great! Let me show you Manila’s world famous street food. Warning: this will probably make you drool (or gag, if you’re a bit squeamish).

Balut
Perhaps the most famous Filipino street food by far, Balut or Balot is both weird and appetizing. Balut is an intact duck egg that is boiled and then eaten with vinegar and salt. What do you see inside? Well, it depends on “how old” the embryo is. Some eggs are pure eggs (you know, with the egg white and egg yolk), while some eggs contain tiny developing ducks (yes, with beaks, eyes, and feathers!) We know it’s weird, but we know it’s irresistible! It is a must-try!

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By Debbie Tingzon from Doha, Qatar – Day 2 – Street Food, CC BY 2.0, Link

Kwek-kwek
Filipinos are known for repeating names like Rap-rap, Maw-maw, and Ton-ton, so you can say that “kwek-kwek” is, on all levels, so Filipino. This dish is essentially just whole quail eggs coated with a mixture of food dye, flour, eggs, and water. The coated egg will then be submerged in super hot cooking oil. The orange eggs are finally served with a very appetizing sauce made with vinegar, calamansi (local lemon), salt, onions, and pepper.

Adidas
No, you’re not gonna be eating some pieces of rubber! Adidas is actually chicken feet on sticks. The chicken feet are coated with a special sauce made with ketchup, soy sauce, and pepper and then grilled. It may look scary, but Adidas is delicious, and is best paired with rice. Why “Adidas”? Because, (chicken) feet = shoes (Adidas)!

Obet's Fried Isaw

Isaw
Isaw is grilled or fried chicken intestines on a stick. Now don’t get squeamish just yet. The intestines are purposely boiled for several minutes prior to kill organisms. It is served with a dipping sauce made with vinegar and salt, or a combination of chili, soy sauce, and coconut vinegar.

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Betamax
Named after the real Betamax tapes, Betamax is chicken blood cut into cubes, skewered, and then grilled. But how do we cut chicken blood into cubes? Well, chicken blood turns into a gelatinous state when cooled (and no it does not go back to its liquid state when grilled). Gross? Wait ‘till you taste it. It’s sinfully delicious.

Taho
Every Filipino, regardless of age, loves Taho. It is basically soy curd with brown sugar caramel and tapioca pearls and is best served warm. It’s a healthy and very affordable drink! If you’re in Manila or in any other place in the Philippines, you’ll know that a Taho vendor is nearby because you’ll hear “taaaaahoooooo!!”

Banana Que
Banana Q or Banana Que a shortcut for Banana Barbeque is banana on stick. Usually served as a snack, this dish involves deep-frying plantain bananas in boiling oil with caramelized brown sugar. It’s usually eaten in the afternoons, after or before a siesta.

Love our introduction of local food? We can help you in hunting down the local hidden food in anywhere in the world! Just askus@ladyredot.com.


mish

Hello, I am Mish! I used to work as a travel expert, customer service specialist and a communications trainer in the past. After working for eight years straight since I graduated, I decided to give up my corporate job to focuses on my 4-year old son, works as a freelance writer and a real estate assistant. I am a sun-worshipper, a water baby, and an earth warrior. And oh, I’m tiny but I am an Olympic-level glutton. Let me bring your tummy around the globe! You can reach me at LinkedIn.

Guest Post: HOW TO DO A DIY YOGA RETREAT IN KOH TAO, THAILAND.

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I started to look into yoga retreats after four months on the road. I wanted a break from the constant moving around, and a place to chill out for a bit. Now, just to be clear I am not a yogi. In fact I’ve only ever been to a handful of classes, before deciding I was way to intimidated by the other people wearing fancy yoga pants, with super flexible backs, strong arms and actual ab muscles. I came out of downward facing dog red in the face and regretting the cigarette I’d just had outside. Essentially I lacked the commitment to further any sort of practice.

So I don’t really know what compelled me to go to a remote island and do yoga. I’m not doubting that I needed to go; my behaviour is erratic, my emotions are generally out of control and I’d spent the last four months boozing and eating burgers.
But my body is just not made for yoga; I don’t mean that like I’m just not that good at it. Literally I’m not built for yoga. An old abdominal operation left a scar running across my belly; as a result I basically haven’t used my very important yoga core muscles in 20 years. The same operation nicked a blood vessel to my left leg, causing it not to sweat (I know, I am so weird). So my danger of face planting is very, very real. I also don’t know my rights and lefts, and of course I am not at all flexible.
Nonetheless, I knew my mind needed to go, even if my body was non-compliant. So I boldly strode off to my first yoga class, not actually that apprehensive, but I think that was just lack of sleep from my journey down from Bangkok.
When I first arrived in Koh Tao, I had planned to go to different yoga studio, Grounded. Which I found out had recently moved and after much googling I just couldn’t find it. So I set out to look for another, and came across Ocean Sound Dive and Yoga. Which was closer, the reviews were great, and they had a budget approved deal on classes. I also needed to commit to this quickly, as with every minute that passed I was at more and more risk of reverting my decision and just signing up to the pub crawl instead.
I had originally planned to stay in the cheapest hostel I could find, and just eat the inflated islands prices for a few weeks. But after the first class  I got talking to another girl, who ended up giving me a lift home, we got chatting about accommodation, plans, life etc etc… Anyway, she was moving out the next day for three weeks, I planned to stay for three weeks; it was perfect, super convenient and dirt cheap. The following day I was in. I was committed.
My first class at Ocean Sound fortunately Restorative and eases me and my aching body in nicely. The instructors were easy going, totally non-pretentious and really knew their shit. The clientele varied from short to long term holiday makers/backpackers and workers from the island. Mostly women, but with the odd guy thrown in for good measure; and all really  lovely.
The studio was super homely; beautifully decorated with large windows, high wooden ceilings, tiled floors, a few discrete spiritual symbols and what I’m told is top of the range equipment. It had a calm and chilled out atmosphere, was really clean, with an abundance of fans, free water refills (which I totally abused) but most importantly it was just super friendly and everyone was welcome.
Classes covered Vinyasa, Hatha, Yin and Restorative. Yin was my favourite because I’m lazy, but I tried to mix it up. Classes are at 7am (I never made it to any of those), 10am and 6pm mostly lasting 90 minutes.
The total pricings worked out at 6,500 bht for 3 weeks at P&N Guesthouse (although there were many others like it). I had my own double bed, shower, kitchen, a small living room and balcony. A two minute walk from the yoga studio in Ban Koh Tao; it seemed  a popular choice for others in my position. The entire block was filled up with European girls spending a few weeks on Koh Tao being all hippy an’ shit.
For the yoga I paid 1000 bht for a one week unlimited pass. So two classes a day (could’ve done three if my body didn’t feel so middle aged). Which worked out at a ridiculous 70 bht per class (approx. £1.55/$2/1.80euro).
To keep my spending down I got the majority of my meals (mostly Pad Thai) from the street stall by my house ‘Lady Sandwich’ and although Lady was a little frosty at first, she soon warmed up to me when she saw I was a repeat customer.
One week in and I really loved the little retreat I’d made for myself. I felt calmer, and the subtle changes to my body were satisfying. I guiltlessly found myself searching yoga inspiration on Insta and Pintrest. I think the yoga has me now.
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A talented 29 year old traveler and writer of the blog https://goneshmavelling.com. Come and follow her adventures around South East Asia, then on to South America on a very strict budget.

The Best Beans on the Belt: Coffee Lovers World Tour

Coffee beans flourish in warm weather, reliable rain, and a healthy amount of sunshine. Each of these factors can have a huge impact determining each cup’s flavour. This being so, the best places around the world for growing is on the bean belt. Ranging from the top of the tropics of Cancer to the bottom of Capricorn, the belt is an ideal place for coffee farms. Image sewing a tape laid on a 2D map ranging from the heights of Hawaii passing through the Americas, down through Africa and lastly, South East Asia, ending in Indonesia. For all those dreaming of a worldwide coffee tour, read below.

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Hawaii
These little islands are a great place to start. It’s the only place in the U.S. where this coffee is produced. Farms can be found on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa. The rich volcanic soil gives these beans their unique taste. Konas beans are the most popular with a sweet fragrance and honey-like taste. “What also makes Kona unique is its physical effect. Kona doesn’t produce the jitters of regular joe. After drinking a cup of Kona, you’ll feel rejuvenated and calm” says barista Michael Hibbs. Although the many brands, small farms are known to produce the best flavours.

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Costa Rica
Next stop, head east to a country known for being one of the first to make the bean into a major industry. This region is also a common supplier to Starbucks. One of the popular brands in Costa Rica is the Howler Monkey Jungle Coffee. Experts define it as a “dry, bright and sparkling sensation that sets a high quality”. Another popular aspect is how they preserve their bags, allowing gases to escape while keeping oxygen in, preserving freshness.

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Brazil
Go further south-east to hit Brazil, the country which has been exporting this nectar since 1820. Today they are still a leading producer, responsible for 30% of international production. They have a massive variety of brews ranging from some of the world’s cheapest to most elegant. Cafe Pilao is known as one of the number one brands. Full bodied, slow roasted with a taste of fruit. Processing methods include wet, dry and semi-dry.

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Indonesia
Swim through the South Atlantic and Indian ocean to another coffee paradise. Indonesia is home to the island of java, which spurred the nickname, and also to the most bizarre style of coffee farming. Kopi Luwak, also known as cat poop coffee, is not your average cup o’ joe. Farmers take the faeces of a civet cat and proceed to roast and brew them. Doyo Soeyono Kertosastro and Indo farmer explain: “natural fermentation that occurs in the [cat’s] stomach seem to make the difference… this is the best of all coffees”. The civet cat’s stomach ferments the beans, softening the bitter aftertaste. It is described as smooth, earthy and nutty. The farming style along with the high demand makes this one the priciest coffees- ranging from $100-600 per pound.

If you are not satisfied with this list, there are hundreds of other places along the belt. Thinking of going on a coffee expedition with us? Drop us a note at askus@ladyredot.com.


josh-may Hello! I’m Josh and I’m a journalism and business student from the U.S. I grew up near Boston but now I’m living in Thailand. In the past I’ve been a ski instructor, waiter, and camp counselor. Now I’ve taken up the pen and want to develop my skills as a writer. I got hooked on traveling last December. I found the microscopic image of my town and realized how much of the earth I hadn’t seen. Since then I’ve had a fire in my belly to see and do as much as I can. My experience here in Thailand has been so great and now I’m eager to share and inspire others to get out, it’s worth it! You can keep in contact with me at LinkedInUpwork or Facebook.