Where should I visit in Kazakhstan?
November 3, 2006 2:04 PM   Subscribe

My company sponsors an orphanage in Pavlodar, Kazakhstan, and I'll be visiting it next year. My question is, aside from the orphanage of course, are there any places you'd recommend I visit while in Kazakhstan? I'm an American designer, and on vacations to Europe I always seek out non-touristy places that exhibit great design or typography. Now, all of Kazakhstan seems to be fairly non-touristy, but are there any beautiful places I should stop while there?
posted by premiumpolar to Travel & Transportation around Kazakstan (12 answers total)
If you're into nature, there's always Kolsay Lakes, but access is pretty rough. Horse or helicopter is the general way to and from. Hey, while you're in the country, why not be adventurous and try some Kazy.
posted by AdamOddo at 2:57 PM on November 3, 2006

How about a visit to the Baikonur Cosmodrome?
posted by Fat Guy at 3:16 PM on November 3, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks! That photo of Kolsay Lake with the rainbow above totally looks like a Lisa Frank painting. And you can pretty much count on me trying some horse meat while I'm there, too.

The Baikonur Cosmodrome looks interesting, too. Thanks.
posted by premiumpolar at 4:57 PM on November 3, 2006

Please, please, PLEASE see a Kokpar game! It's the only game I know of that involves headless goat carcasses!
posted by pravit at 6:47 PM on November 3, 2006

Response by poster: Wow, that's a great suggestion! Unfortunately, I'll most likely be going in the winter... If not, though, I'll definitely put Kokpar at the top of my list.
posted by premiumpolar at 7:55 PM on November 3, 2006

Response by poster: ...and take tons of photos, of course!
posted by premiumpolar at 7:56 PM on November 3, 2006

This article may help you.
posted by MadamM at 9:30 PM on November 3, 2006

If you can find the time to just hang around somewhere, like a small town cafe or bar, chances are good you'll be able to get an invite to your new Kazakh friends' homes for tea, dinner, whatever.

Seeing how the locals live is the most interesting thing to me, and you'll likely be surprised by the primitive conditions you'll find outside the main cities.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:49 AM on November 4, 2006

Try to make it to the city food market... lots of activity and real life scenes.

Also, if you have some language skills, try to buy something!

Bring long underwear. You'll be surprised how cold you get.
posted by k8t at 9:39 AM on November 4, 2006

Response by poster: MadamM - Thanks for that.

Meatbomb - I agree, that's a really good idea. One of the coolest things I did in Switzerland was get invited to private house parties. For one of them, I had purchased a cheesecake to bring, but I got stoned and ate the whole thing! (Won't happen again...)

k8t - I know Russian a little. Not well enough to speak fluently, but well enough to read most signs and advertisements. Hopefully I'll learn more before the trip (I have a while, still).

Also, I come from cold, cold Alaska. I don't think i'll be too cold. On my weather widget, it always shows Pavlodar to be about the same temperature as it is here.
posted by premiumpolar at 10:00 AM on November 4, 2006

For one of them, I had purchased a cheesecake to bring, but I got stoned and ate the whole thing!

Ah, if you are one of us, you might also be interested in the local smoking scene.

In Kyrgyzstan, a good portion of the menfolk will get out the hash when behind closed doors.

Last time I was in Karakol I was fortunate to actually witness production of hash from kif. All done with a bedsheet stretched taut with a broomhandle over a plastic bowl, steamed in a teakettle, and then pressed in a doorhinge.

Not sure, but you'll likely be too far north for this, though.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:33 PM on November 4, 2006

Best answer: Belated advice from a friend who was there (mostly in Almaty) in the mid 90s:

"I'd definitely suggest Medeo but I think they've fixed it up since I was there, which is a screaming pity. Their website makes it looks fancy. Riding the Chinese lift chairs with no bar to hold me in 600' off the ground may have scared the crap out of me but it made sure there weren't many people to bother us
at the top.

"I also loved the statues of the Persian zodiac forming a fountain outside the University of Languages in Almaty.

"And Park Panfilova in Almaty is not to be missed. It's right in the middle of town surrounding the Orthodox cathedral but it's basically a forest with very realistic statues of wild animals. You don't even realize they're statues until they don't move at all."
posted by dilettante at 1:35 PM on November 5, 2006

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