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Author Topic: Kazakhstan -Almaty - Алматы - Alma-Ata - Алма-Ата - Verniy - Верный  (Read 11145 times)

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Offline mendeleyev

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Almaty (Алматы)

Welcome to what is often called the birthplace of the apple!



The name "Almaty" derives from the Kazakh word for "apple" (алма), and thus is often translated as a city "rich with apples". The older Soviet-era Russian version of its name, Alma-Ata literally means "Grandfather of apples". In the surrounding region, there is a great genetic diversity among the wild apples and there are numerous scientific institutes from around the world located in Almaty to study the science of the apple.

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Some Kazakhs claim that Almaty could be the site of the garden of Eden.

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(Map from refworld.org)

Formerly named Alma-Ata (Алма-Ата), Almaty is the largest city in Kazakhstan and was the historic capital of the Republic until the government moved the capital to the new city of Astana in recent years.

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The population of the city is over 1.3 million people with the approximate population breakdown of Kazaks 51%, Russians 37%, and other nationalities 12%. Kazakhstan is majority Muslim but very moderate and there is a large Orthodox Christian population in the country.

The city is served by the Almaty International Airport, (ALA).

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(foto: Aziz Akhmedov)


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(foto: Fanil Lis)


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(foto: Fanil Lis)


Many residents own cars as well and motorcycles are very popular with younger generations.

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(foto: Ilya Varlamov)

Although it has lost the status of capital, Almaty remains the largest financial, economic and cultural center of Central Asia. It accommodates numerous business centers, theaters, museums, art galleries, exhibition halls and countless modern entertainment complexes (ultra modern movie theaters, casinos, nightclubs, parks, restaurants, and cafes.

Offline mendeleyev

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There is a Metro in Almaty and a new line is currently under construction.


(City of Almaty Metro map.)

Residents point to their modern transportation system with its abundant buses, trams and trolleys.  We'll take a quick ride on a bus:

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First we have to pay the fare and this machine takes small yellow bus tokens which are sold at most bus stations and sometimes by cashiers on the bus. The price is 80 Tenge (KZT), about .58 cents in USD.

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After paying the fare we'll take a seat.

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Next we'll take a tram ride. Trams and trolleybuses look very much alike so an easy way to tell the difference is that trams ride on steel rails while trolleybuses have wheels and tires just like ordinary buses but like trams their electric engines are powered by overhead electric wires.

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We'll pay the fare of 80 Tenge which is consistent across all forms of public transport. If you don't have a token and there is no cashier on the tram, simply purchase a token from the driver.

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Then find a seat.

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(All fotos above unless noted are by Ilya Varlamov)

An aerial tramway line connects downtown Almaty with a popular recreation area the top of Kök Töbe (Kazakh: Көктөбе, which means 'Green Hill'), a mountain just to the southeast. The city television tower, Alma-Ata Tower, is located on the hill, as well as a variety of amusement-park type attractions and touristy restaurants.

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With only a few days in Almaty, you can see a lot. Start with the city's most famous attraction, the tram to Ak-Tyube hill and TV tower, leaving right from downtown. Grab a meal or beer and enjoy the view at one of the many restaurants and bars on top. Next, try Medeo, an Olympic-level skating rink, and the highest in the world, a 15 min. drive from the city. From there, get even higher at nearby Chimbulak ski resort, take the lift and enjoy an aerial view of the city (grab something warm though, as it takes you quite high (3,200m) and it gets very cold up there).

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If you have spare day, head to the mountains to Big Almaty Lake and observatory, or Talgar gorge (trout farm, ostrich farm and nomadic burial sites where the famous Golden Man was discovered) If not in the mood for cold mountains, go in the opposite direction to Kapchagai Lake and the spectacular Ili River, with ancient Buddhist petroglyphs and a huge fort built for the movie "Nomad".



Offline mendeleyev

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Here is an excellent link to Almaty hotels.

There are housing shortages in the major cities like Almaty and Astana and so there are lotteries each month designed to award housing as construction projects are completed.

In 2008, social rights activist Vladimir Tretyakov (not to be confused with the honourable Vladimir Tretyakov, Rector of Ural State University) was in Almaty for the 2008 grants of public housing to applicants.





There were far more applicants than apartments available and the crowd gathered in the wee hours of the morning waiting for the Public Housing offices to be opened. The crowd continued to grow larger as morning came.





Some young men began to climb on the hot water pipes which run into the building, attempting to enter through windows.





Others tried to climb tree limbs and then jump into the office windows.





Of course the police came and stablized the situation.





Offline Nessibelle

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A Kazakh Girl (maybe not typical appearance)

Offline mendeleyev

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Building the Almaty of the future:







Tall communications (TV-radio) tower/spire to right of photo:




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(Almaty centre, foto: Moscow Times)


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(foto: Dmitry Dvoretsky)


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(foto: Roman Dimitrov)

Offline mendeleyev

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Peaceful neighborhoods:






Of course with a city with so much traffic one can expect police stops:





Traffic cameras:



Offline mendeleyev

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Shopping inside the "Mega" complex:




Offline Manny

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It looks a lot more modern than one would imagine doesn't it?

Offline mendeleyev

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The investment and build up of the city since the 1990's has been nothing short of breathtaking. This is a city of such ancient history and mystery because of it's Eastern connections.

Birthplace of the apple. Now that is history!  tiphat

Yet the city seems to be developing in a way that modernizes for the future while honouring it's well deserved heritage.

A nice video tour of the city:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/qb-tv3Cpytk" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/qb-tv3Cpytk</a>

Offline mendeleyev

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Victory Day celebrations, 09 May 2010 in Almaty:






Thank you sir, for your service in the war.




Offline Isthmus

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Spent a few days in Almaty recently. Liked it and regret I didn't spend more time there. The old city centre is a typical Soviet city. The newer parts are modern and developing rapidly. A very green city with trees everywhere and the mountains to the south form a stunning backdrop to the city.

I could see myself going back there.  :thumbsup:




Offline Isthmus

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Heading back to Almaty next month, better buy some subzero temperature winter clothing  ;D

Offline GuppyCaptain

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Wow, now I'm even more intrigued by Kazakhstan and Almaty itself. Isthmus, how would you describe it as far as friendliness and how an English speaking Westerner would fair there?

Offline Isthmus

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Hello Guppy, I only spent a few days in Almaty but spent a week in Astana. I preferred Almaty as a city, has more character and it is an eclectic city where you can go a few blocks and find quite a different ambience and architectural style. Almaty also has a very multicultural population, the two biggest groups being Kazakh and Russian but there are many other ethnic groups present there.

Found the locals to be generally friendly. As for English language, I urge you to learn some Russian, in particular the Cyrillic alphabet because the Kazakhs also use this.

Younger Kazakhs are learning English and in the future that will make KZ more tourist friendly but for now, having some basic Russian would come in very handy.

I will probably spend about 10 days in Almaty on my next trip so should have more insightful observations than right now  :)

Offline GuppyCaptain

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Hello Guppy, I only spent a few days in Almaty but spent a week in Astana. I preferred Almaty as a city, has more character and it is an eclectic city where you can go a few blocks and find quite a different ambience and architectural style. Almaty also has a very multicultural population, the two biggest groups being Kazakh and Russian but there are many other ethnic groups present there.

Found the locals to be generally friendly. As for English language, I urge you to learn some Russian, in particular the Cyrillic alphabet because the Kazakhs also use this.

Younger Kazakhs are learning English and in the future that will make KZ more tourist friendly but for now, having some basic Russian would come in very handy.

I will probably spend about 10 days in Almaty on my next trip so should have more insightful observations than right now  :)

Thanks Isthmus. From my recent trip to Ukraine one of the biggest things I took away was the fact that knowing the Cyrillic alphabet is practically mandatory when traveling to the FSU. I'm a fairly experienced traveler and can usually slug through a lot of languages that are written with Roman letters. That was not the case in Ukraine. I would imagine that a country that's truly out in the middle of nowhere like KZ would be even less tourist friendly. Still, it seems like an intriguing place with a lot of natural beauty. Who wouldn't want to see the ninth largest country in the world?

I am teaching myself some Russian and haven't gotten cracking on the alphabet yet but I WILL know it before my next trip. Absolutely. For me learning languages is fun, but Russian is DIFFICULT!

Offline Isthmus

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Guppy, I went to Kharkov in Ukraine in 2012 and luckily I had started sending sms texts in Russian to the lady I was communicating with at the time and that way I inadvertently learnt the Cyrillic alphabet and some basic Russian words and phrases. Held me in good stead when travelling in Ukraine and more recently, Kazakhstan.

Since then I enrolled in an elementary Russian language course, much easier than self-teaching I found. Currently I try to often write in Russian (and occasionally in Kazakh) with the lady I will be visiting in Almaty. Its a good way to pick up new words.

I got the impression that Kharkov isn't exactly inundated with tourists (its not like Kiev I assume) so you wouldn't find Almaty that different in terms of tourist amenities I suspect.  Similar sized cities.  If anything, Almaty is a more important commercial hub and Kazakhstan's oil & gas industry does attract some western expat professional workers.

But Kazakhstan is an interesting country with some very diverse climatic regions as it has arid deserts, the Caspian sea, the vast steppe, towering mountain ranges in the south-east & east and green hills and lakes on the border with Russian Siberia. It also has the most ethnically diverse population in all of the FSU.

Offline mendeleyev

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Like parts of the USA Southwest deserts, those hot sandy areas can also enjoy quite a winter too!


As you can imagine this land which in historic times was part of the Persian and the Chinese empires, leans East.  There is a beauty here that is hard to describe.  Yes, many ethnic Russians live here, but is a different culture than Russian. 

Almaty has gone thru several name changes in history and even more recently was shortened from Alma-Ata to just Almaty.  Residents are fiercely loyal to their city.  Most are not happy about the capital being moved to the new city of Astana far to the north center of the country.  But geographically it made sense.  Almaty is much to close to the border to defend should Kazakhstan ever be threated, and as the 9th largest country in geographical size, it's people deserve a capital city more centrally located.

Nonetheless, Almaty the historic and former capital is a very special place.


Here are some very nice videos about Almaty:

- this one has a nice song about the city:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/qDqxpGGd9Fc" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/qDqxpGGd9Fc</a>

Did you learn how to pronounce the city name while listening?


- Here is another chance to learn with a different but equally nice song with great photos:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/00j-d_05UiM" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/00j-d_05UiM</a>


<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/47b6oSUtsjc" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/47b6oSUtsjc</a>


<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/qZxNeSY-cjo" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/qZxNeSY-cjo</a>


<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/kzXjEd1fzTA" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/kzXjEd1fzTA</a>


Okay, final question on this post:  What do you think of дильназ ахмадиева?  Hmm, what is дильназ ахмадиева?  SHE is considered one of the Kazakh superstars, a beauty.  If you listen to Western pop or light hip hop music you'll already know her and many of you will recognize this song! Watch this and see what you think of this gal born here in Alamty:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/m6QtN3NqRpI&amp;NR=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/m6QtN3NqRpI&amp;NR=1</a>

Offline mendeleyev

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Remont (remodeling) in progress. Please excuse the dust while we redesign the Almaty pages, starting at the beginning on page one.

Offline mendeleyev

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There are Soviet holdovers in Almaty, too, like this monument to the Kazakh defense of Moscow.

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(foto: City of Almaty)


Some of the architecture harkens back to the period of Russian Imperialism.

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Then there are Soviet styled housing and markets one can easily find almost anywhere in Eastern Europe and Asia.

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Kazakhstan's President-for-Life Nursultan Nazarbayev has carefully developed the cult of personality. You can find him almost anywhere.

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(fotos 3-8: Ilya Varlamov/http://zyalt.livejournal.com/987352.html)

Offline mendeleyev

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So what about the ladies? Do they all look like Professor and national poet Jannie Prashkevich (Жанны Прашкевич)?





(foto: art.gazeta.kz)


Readers who are good with cameras might find themselves planning to take part in the event called "Photograph Almaty."

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The city web portal also features personals each month.










As in all areas of the FSU, there are plenty of pretty ladies out in the villages and smaller towns, too.

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(foto: scene from a movie filming)



Thanks to WiMax, Kazakh ladies can have WiFi almost anywhere.


(foto: WiMax)

Offline Isthmus

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Last September I spent a few days in Almaty, just passing through. Just came back from spending a week there and got to know the town and local culture(s) a bit better. I really like Алматы, an interesting, dynamic and expanding city. If it positions itself properly, Almaty can become the commercial, financial, economic and transportation hub for the whole of Central Asia.

Oh and there are plenty of pretty ladies there  :) Also Almaty has a real mixture of different ethnic groups, its not just Kazakhs and Russians that reside there.

Will post some more detailed thoughts and observations about Almaty and KZ when I have more time  :)

Offline mendeleyev

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Nice instrument leading to the original song and cool video.

Not a valid youtube URL

Offline Isthmus

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Cool clip Mendeleyev  :thumbsup:

I think I'll be heading back to Almaty in October  :)

BTW, the Kazakh 'dombra' instrument reminds me of similar striged instruments found in S.E. and Eastern Europe.

Offline treadmilldude

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Hello Guppy, I only spent a few days in Almaty but spent a week in Astana. I preferred Almaty as a city, has more character and it is an eclectic city where you can go a few blocks and find quite a different ambience and architectural style. Almaty also has a very multicultural population, the two biggest groups being Kazakh and Russian but there are many other ethnic groups present there.

Found the locals to be generally friendly. As for English language, I urge you to learn some Russian, in particular the Cyrillic alphabet because the Kazakhs also use this.

Younger Kazakhs are learning English and in the future that will make KZ more tourist friendly but for now, having some basic Russian would come in very handy.

I will probably spend about 10 days in Almaty on my next trip so should have more insightful observations than right now  :)

Thanks Isthmus. From my recent trip to Ukraine one of the biggest things I took away was the fact that knowing the Cyrillic alphabet is practically mandatory when traveling to the FSU. I'm a fairly experienced traveler and can usually slug through a lot of languages that are written with Roman letters. That was not the case in Ukraine. I would imagine that a country that's truly out in the middle of nowhere like KZ would be even less tourist friendly. Still, it seems like an intriguing place with a lot of natural beauty. Who wouldn't want to see the ninth largest country in the world?

I am teaching myself some Russian and haven't gotten cracking on the alphabet yet but I WILL know it before my next trip. Absolutely. For me learning languages is fun, but Russian is DIFFICULT!

Tell me about it Guppy. I purchased the Pimmsleur Approach collection of Russian CD's on Ebay about a year and half ago. I have been through only the first 2 CD's and cannot get past the first 2 CD's......I do not know the Cryllic alphabet, perhaps that is preventing me from speaking it, I dunno? But what I do know is learning Russian is enormously difficult.

I took 4 years of Spanish in HS and I learned Spanish pretty easily. I mean Spanish is so darn easy to learn, at least for me Spanish was extremely extremely easy to learn. Russian, on the other hand.....oh my goodness, there is absolutely no comparison, for me at least, between learning Spanish and Russian. Spanish is a peace of cake. Russian....absolute nightmare. I am just going to have to rely on the woman I marry in Ukraine, when she moves to the US with me eventually, to teach me a fair amount of Russian, enough to where I can atleast have a very basic conversation with someone in Russian, eventually. So that whenever we  go back and visit her family in Ukraine every year, I will be able to semi-understand what is going on around me when her family and friends speak to each other, and not have the pathetic "Deer in the headlights" look one has when you cannot speak a word of Russian.  :)
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Offline AKA Luke

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Hello Guppy, I only spent a few days in Almaty but spent a week in Astana. I preferred Almaty as a city, has more character and it is an eclectic city where you can go a few blocks and find quite a different ambience and architectural style. Almaty also has a very multicultural population, the two biggest groups being Kazakh and Russian but there are many other ethnic groups present there.

Found the locals to be generally friendly. As for English language, I urge you to learn some Russian, in particular the Cyrillic alphabet because the Kazakhs also use this.

Younger Kazakhs are learning English and in the future that will make KZ more tourist friendly but for now, having some basic Russian would come in very handy.

I will probably spend about 10 days in Almaty on my next trip so should have more insightful observations than right now  :)

Thanks Isthmus. From my recent trip to Ukraine one of the biggest things I took away was the fact that knowing the Cyrillic alphabet is practically mandatory when traveling to the FSU. I'm a fairly experienced traveler and can usually slug through a lot of languages that are written with Roman letters. That was not the case in Ukraine. I would imagine that a country that's truly out in the middle of nowhere like KZ would be even less tourist friendly. Still, it seems like an intriguing place with a lot of natural beauty. Who wouldn't want to see the ninth largest country in the world?

I am teaching myself some Russian and haven't gotten cracking on the alphabet yet but I WILL know it before my next trip. Absolutely. For me learning languages is fun, but Russian is DIFFICULT!

Tell me about it Guppy. I purchased the Pimmsleur Approach collection of Russian CD's on Ebay about a year and half ago. I have been through only the first 2 CD's and cannot get past the first 2 CD's......I do not know the Cryllic alphabet, perhaps that is preventing me from speaking it, I dunno? But what I do know is learning Russian is enormously difficult.

I took 4 years of Spanish in HS and I learned Spanish pretty easily. I mean Spanish is so darn easy to learn, at least for me Spanish was extremely extremely easy to learn. Russian, on the other hand.....oh my goodness, there is absolutely no comparison, for me at least, between learning Spanish and Russian. Spanish is a peace of cake. Russian....absolute nightmare. I am just going to have to rely on the woman I marry in Ukraine, when she moves to the US with me eventually, to teach me a fair amount of Russian, enough to where I can atleast have a very basic conversation with someone in Russian, eventually. So that whenever we  go back and visit her family in Ukraine every year, I will be able to semi-understand what is going on around me when her family and friends speak to each other, and not have the pathetic "Deer in the headlights" look one has when you cannot speak a word of Russian.  :)
It took me about 3 x 2hr one-on-one lessons to fullybunderstand the Cyrillic alphabet - those lessons weren't focused just on the alphabet but learning words too, so go figure.

So you started learning Russian 18 months ago? Was this part of your 15 year plan?
I know I am I'm sure I am I'm Rotherham til I die!


 

 

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