Central Asia - Kazakhstan Part 2

Almaty - Republic Square Credit: Tripadvisor

I was surprised to see so many modern buildings around Almaty and some attractive sculptures dotted about, as I expected the stark brutalist Russian architecture to dominate.

We saw lots of big squares, huge sculptures and monuments - a reminder of the long Soviet occupation which continued throughout our travels around The Stan's.

In Almaty Republic Square is surrounded by the State Museum and many other influential buildings of the area - it was opened in 1980 and used for celebrations, mass parades, rallies, festivals.

The First President Park features a monumental sculptural composition - which is so big it can only be captured by a panoramic shot. It celebrates their 20th anniversary of Independence, showcasing a golden eagle made in bronze, granite and marble and the map has symbolic images of the historical sites of Kazakhstan.

First President Park Credit: Tripadvisor

Some of the younger people are learning English, I met Anya, training to be a tour guide and enjoyed the chance to chat. Her English was very good and with a bubbly personality I am sure will do well. She gave me a big hug as we said goodbye.

Buildings and sculptures; Centre: with Anya Photos: Jane

Huge sculptures commemorating war heroes, also feature. We saw a proud family group posing for photographs by one memorial, in the Park of 28 Panfilov Guardsmen, while in complete contrast later in the day an older local couple posed with a sculpture of The Beatles - although the group never visited Central Asia their music attracted a strong following.

In Kazakhstan we only visited Almaty and just for a few days - a wonderful introduction to our journey through the 5 Stans.

We had a final stop at the Green Bazaar. Inside a sea of fruit, vegetables and spices - the strawberries sweet and juicy, while in the meat section the butchers were hard at work chopping up lamb; horse meat for sale as well. People are big meat eaters in Central Asia - lamb, beef and even horse - which I did try and in fact quite similar to beef.

Green Bazaar and outdoor farmers market Photos: Jane

Outside the local farmers were setup. With just the equivalent of 30 cents in local currency left in my purse I was able to buy one apple - so crisp and juicy - I asked the lady serving me for a photo. A fitting end to my time here - the city of apples.

I can only agree with Borat's slogan - Kazakhstan - It’s Nice!

Look out for my next destination - Kyrgyzstan - coming soon.