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Holidays in Kazakhstan

Understanding Kazakhstan

Native Kazakhs, a mix of Turkic and Mongol nomadic tribes who migrated into the region in the 13th century, were united as a single nation in the middle of 16th century The area was conquered by Russia in the 18th century, and Kazakhstan became a Soviet Republic in 1936

During the launching of the 1950s and 1960s agricultural "Virgin Lands" program, Soviet citizens were encouraged to help cultivate Kazakhstan's northern pastures This influx of immigrants mostly Russians, but also some other deported nationalities, including the Volga Germans skewed the ethnic mixture and enabled non-Kazakhs to outnumber natives Independence has caused many of these newcomers to emigrate

Current issues include: Developing a cohesive national identity; expanding the development of the country's vast energy resources and exporting them to world markets an oil pipeline to China has been built; the gas pipeline is under construction; achieving a sustainable economic growth outside the oil, gas, and mining sectors, and strengthening relations with neighboring states and other foreign powers

Talking in Kazakhstan

For too many foreigners the Kazakh language has been seen as very difficult to understand and to pronounce; however, it has been contrasted as easier than some other regional languages like Kyrgyz Actually, travellers proficient in Turkish might be able to get by because Kazakh is of the same Turkic language family

If you speak and/or understand the Russian language, then you should be fine Still, Russian is considered to be tougher to learn grammatically speaking At the very least, become familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet and learn a few phrases

Note that despite the president's campaign to stamp out the Russian language, Almaty and much of the North are still predominantly Russian speaking

Many people under age 20 will know some English as well as many customs officials and airport people know English

It is difficult to get around the country without some Russian or Kazakh language skills; though, within the more modernized cities, it is easier Have your place of residence written on a card and get a cab if you get lost you might be somewhat overcharged by the cab, but it is better than being lost

Buying stuff in Kazakhstan

The national currency is Tenge KZT, Cyrillic: тенге As of July, 2010, the exchange rates are:

  • US$ 1 = KZT 1475
  • € 1 = KZT 1865

Even for people who are not big shoppers, the beautifully crafted felt items will appeal They are also easy to carry, and inexpensive to post

Food and eating in Kazakhstan

Meat, potatoes, rice and pasta And lots of it If you're vegetarian be wary, because if it doesn't have meat in it, it was almost certainly cooked on meat stock

Some recommended dishes:

  • Beshbarmak - a horse meat and pasta dish The national dish of Kazakhstan most often served for special occasions Can also be made with beef or lamb Most restaurants that serve it will present a portion enough for two or three people
  • Laghman - a thick noodle dish, usually served as a soup
  • Manty - large steamed dumplings full of meat and onions Sometimes made with onions or pumpkin Traditional Uighur dish
  • Plov - wonderful dish of fried rice, meat, carrots, and sometimes other bits such as raisins or tomatoes Traditional Uzbek dish
  • Shashlyk or Shish Kebab - skewered, roasted chunks of meat, served with some sort of flatbread usually lavash and onions
  • Boursaky - bread best served piping hot A little like an unsweetened doughnut
  • Pelemeni - boiled dumplings made from different kinds of meat Russian

If you're a vegetarian, you're probably thinking there's nothing for you in Kazakstan And you're right - so long as you eat out But if you're cooking your own food, you'll be more than satisfied Kazakstan has some excellent produce available at little markets everywhere For a treat in Almaty, try Govinda's, a delicious vegetarian Hare Krishna restaurant Malls have food courts with some vegetarian options too Even some small Kazakh eateries will prepare vegetarian meals for you if you make it very clear to them eg "byez myasa" without meat, "ya vegeterianetz" I male am a vegetarian, "ya vegetarianka" I female am a vegetarian in Russian At some places eg smak you can even find vegetarian manty made with pumpkin

The legacy of Korean resettlement in Kazakhstan means that Korean dishes, particularly salads, are very common At the country's many bazaars independent food and goods markets, look for the Korean ladies selling these They will wrap you up any number of delicious, often spicy and garlicky salads to take away in plastic bags If you are vegetarian, this may be the only decent thing you get to eat while you're in the country

On the other hand, in Kazakhstan you can find any dishes you want, but Chinese and Japanese dishes are very expensive The most delicious is caviar, which is very cheap, you can buy 1 kilo of caviar for less than USD300 in Almaty Zyeloniy Bazaar, but you can't export or take it with you home, you will be stopped at airport and pay high fines

Eating out is relatively cheap; you basically order the meat dish and then add rice, potatoes, etc Each element is priced individually, so you can order for instance only meat or only rice Prices are relatively cheap, count 500T for chicken and up to 1500T for beef Of course, the fancier the restaurant, the higher the price If you don't speak Russian, things are relatively hard as the majority of restaurants don't have English menus with the exception of some hyped places in Almaty

While Kazakhs are not very religious, most do not eat pork Be aware of this if you are dining out with Kazakhs or planning a dinner at home Also many dishes that are made elsewhere with pork such as dumplings or sausage are made with beef or mutton here

Drinking in Kazakhstan

You can find any sort of drink you want, some of the traditional beverages include:

  • Kumiss - fermented mare's milk
  • Kumyran Shubat- fermented camel's milk
  • Kvas - described as similar to root beer it can be bought in a bottle in a store, or by the cup from people with giant yellowish tanks of it on the street

Cheap alcoholic drinks can be found at every little corner shop called the astanovka These places are open 24/7, just knock on their door if the shopkeeper is asleep Kazakhstan's specialty is cognac, though stores still sell vodka cheaper than bottled water at times However, some of these astanovka sometimes sell alcohol of dubious origin; for the sake of your stomach you may want to buy your beverage in a supermarket, although the price will definitely be higher

The juices, in cartons, are delicious, especially peach juice

Accommodation in Kazakhstan

There are numerous hotels, from very cheap ones 10 Euro per night to the luxurious ones You wouldn't find the cheapest ones on the web; the only way to book them is to call directly, but in that case you'll have to speak Russian at the least

There are almost no camping sites except in Burabay/Borovoe in Kazakhstan You can, however, camp almost anywhere due to the huge uninhabited spots The scenery is beautiful but because of the very hot weather: don't forget to take plenty of water with you as you can very easily spend many of days without seeing anybody If you camp near a nomadic tribe, ask for the permission to stay near; it will not be refused

Working in Kazakhstan

Work is not impossible to find English teaching schools are sprouting up all over The English department at KIMEP might be a good place to start, depending on credentials and experience

Cities in Kazakhstan

abay  achisay  aksay  aksu  aksu  aksu  aktas  aktau  alekseyevka  almaty  aqtobe  arys  astana  atasu  atbasar  atyrau  ayagoz  balkhash  balykshi  batamshinskiy  belousovka  bestobe  beyneu  boralday  borovskoy  bulaevo  chardara  chingirlau  derzhavinsk  dossor  dzhusaly  ekibastuz  emba  energeticheskiy  ereymentau  esik  esil  fort-shevchenko  georgiyevka  glubokoe  gulshat  ilyich  inderborskiy  kachiry  karabulak  karatau  karaton  karkaralinsk  kazalinsk  kentau  khromtau  kirovskiy  komsomolets  krasnoarmeysk  kurchum  kuryk  kushmurun  lenger  lisakovsk  makat  makinsk  mamlyutka  maykain  merke  mikhaylovka  novodolinskiy  osakarovka  oskemen  oytal  pavlodar  petropavl  qostanay  sarkand  saryagash  saryozek  saryshagan  semey  serebryansk  sergeyevka  shakhtinsk  shar  shemonaikha  shetpe  shieli  shubarkuduk  shubarshi  shu  shymkent  stepnogorsk  stepnyak  talgar  taraz  tasbuget  tekeli  temirtau  temir  tobol  turkistan  urdzhar  ushtobe  zachagansk  zaysan  zhanakorgan  zhanaozen  zhanatas  zharkent  zhetybay  zhetysay  zhezkazgan  zhitikara  zholymbet  zyryanovsk  

What do you think about Kazakhstan?

How expensive is Kazakhstan?
(1 KZT = 0 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant1.11 KZT
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)7.72 KZT
McDonalds meal1 KZT
Local beer (0.5 draft)232.5 KZT
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 364.8 KZT
Cappuccino540.78 KZT
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)139.34 KZT
Water (0.33 bottle)92.73 KZT
Milk (1l)198.99 KZT
Fresh bread (500g)63.38 KZT
White Rice (1kg)204.25 KZT
Eggs (12) 300.19 KZT
Local Cheese (1kg) 1.11 KZT
Chicken Breast (1kg) 1085.26 KZT
Apples (1kg) 336.89 KZT
Oranges (1kg) 355.88 KZT
Tomato (1kg) 414.23 KZT
Potato (1kg) 132.81 KZT
Lettuce (1 head) 164.28 KZT
Water (1.5l)119.62 KZT
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 1.11 KZT
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)152 KZT
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 230.75 KZT
Cigarettes223.15 KZT
One way local bus ticket88.32 KZT
Monthly pass for bus5 KZT
Taxi start333 KZT
Taxi 1km200 KZT
Taxi 1hour waiting0.94 KZT
Gasoline (1 liter) 115.65 KZT
Utilities for a "normal" apartment17.86 KZT
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 2.22 KZT
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 110.3 KZT
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 75.34 KZT
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre 159.25 KZT
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 117 KZT, your travel companion

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