Things I learnt about Kazakhstan:
1. Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country in the world. Stan is an ancient Persian word meaning “land” or “nation,” and Kazakhmeans “wanderer,” “adventurer,” or “outlaw.” Therefore, the name Kazakhstan translates as “Land of the Wanderers.”
2. Kazakhstan has an unofficial taxi system. People wave on the street, cars stop, destination and price are discussed, and they go.
Every car is a taxi; you may flag down any car on the street, tell them where you’re going. They may agree and you hop in, or you may not be going in a convenient direction and they drive off; no worries because you may flag down the next one. You negotiate the price with the driver. Along the way, if someone else waves the car down, he may check if it’s a convenient direction, and the passenger may hop in.
Grabcar without an app, isn’t it? In this way, every driver on the road can get some source of supplementary income.
3. They still have traditions / beliefs relating to their tribes – e.g. can’t marry partner of the same tribe unless they’re 7 generations apart
4. We had a really hard time finding souvenirs in Kazakhstan; such sentiments were echoed by fellow travellers.
Our second day was spent at…. THE GREAT ALMATY LAKE! Such a gloriously beautiful day, how great it was indeed!
The mountains and the rivers and ME!!!!!!!!!!! – HUGS THE FRESH AIR –
I happily skipped step by step as we went on
I stared curiously as a man carried multiple big empty bottles, filling them with water that flowed from a pipe. He taped the cap with a scotch tape with each one that was full. Others waited around to fill their bottles.
Was he selling these water? Could he sell these bottles even though the caps have been unsealed? Is that allowed here? I thought briefly. We then departed and walked towards what we thought was the entrance to the national park.
We walked towards a sign with a bunch of Cyrillic list; none matched the one on lonely planet, none indicated anything about the big Almaty lake. Where were we supposed to go? Hmmmm. We stood there for awhile, slightly amused.
(Ah, lack of development in tourism facilities. Almaty, you have so, so much to offer! Kamila mentioned this; she wants to work on this when she works in the tourism industry.)
We laughed, and walked on. Cz stuck out his thumb as we walked on. I walked on cheerily, pleased with the sunshine and the cool air. A car stopped. My heart leaped with joy! A guy unwound his window and we hopped in, telling him our plan.
He could speak perfect English; he was heading towards the Three Bears but could drop off somewhere along the way. We chatted and I learnt that people actually drive up to the mountains to fill their bottles with water to drink. Some extreme ones even use only mountain water to cook and for everything else. For him, he was here to fill his bottles, as many as the ones that he could find. My mind flashed back to the guy with more than 10 bottles.
No wonder there were kids in the cars, shiny cars too. So they weren’t water-sellers! It was interesting to know that people would drive all the way here just to get water from the mountains. How lucky they were! To be able to collect the pure water from the mountains. If I lived here, would I do the same, come to that sort of trouble? Hmmmm.
He dropped us off further than proposed, and we cheered.
LET’S GO GREAT ALMATY LAKE
We walked our way towards the pipes. We saw steps. Right place, hurray! On we go!
I took in the cool air. I took in the trees, the greenery. I took in the somewhat familiar calmness and quietness that surrounded me, the purity of the bird’s chirping. The little yellow flowers that dotted the grass. I walked and I took them in. I breathed.
love. I just love this. Even looking at these pictures I JUST LOVE the cool air, the silent trotting, drowning in my thoughts (or lack of them). Peace.
WAAAAH!!!! I beckoned at the view. So beautiful!!111!!!!111!!!
Cz mocked me because he said I haven’t turned around, which was the highlight.
After I turned around and ‘waaaaaaah-ed’, he says ‘eh you turn back leh, you think that’s the highlight right’
But 0:50 is really beautiful isn’t it, i can’t decide which is more beautiful. IT IS JUST BEAUTIFUL. ALL ARE HIGHLIGHTS.
Walked down this road for awhile, sticking out my thumb
FINALLY! Someone stopped.
We hitchhiked our way back to Almaty. Using Google translate that works offline, we switched phones back and forth, Russian – English, and I learnt that the 20 year old law student was from Shymkent, studying in Almaty, and liked sports.
We eventually reached Almaty; I snapped a Polaroid hastily, likely not so pretty, waved them goodbye in the rising traffic and we parted.
How interesting that we could communicate even though we didn’t speak each others’ languages. A world without borders? Thank you Google Translate Offline!