There is one area in the world I think most people are not very familiar with, including me, and that is Central Asia – or also known as the Stan-countries. Stan means land or nation. Kazak means wander or adventure. Not very surprisingly Kazakhstan means land of adventure and I guess that fits me quite well. Just like Athens, this will be a short stop with just a transit of 20 hours. But you know what they say; it’s not about the quantity but the quality! So even though this was a short stop, it was full of impressions and only very good ones.
I got here with yet a night flight and I managed to get a few hours of sleep and woke up 15 minutes before landing when the lights was turned on – and I’m glad I woke up then. I flew to Almaty, not the capital but the biggest city in Kazakhstan, which is located right next to a mighty mountain range which we flew right next to before landing. Blue skies and an amazing view. Since Kazakhstan has removed the VISA for a lot of countries, the migrations went really fast and after quick breakfast at the airport I took a taxi to a park in the city, just to walk around, relax and enjoy the weather. I really wanted to go up in the mountains, but it was a little too far and expensive going there by taxi, so the plan was just to stay in the city – but usually things don’t go as planned.
Suddenly a man who was out jogging approached me, speaking only Russian, but he was very curious and I understood that he invited me to his nearby home for lunch – so of course I joined. His kids could speak a little bit of English, so we got to understand each other a little bit better. After lunch we jumped in his car and he took me up in the mountains to some different scenic locations and I was very grateful for the hospitality. He even bought all the food even though I insisted on paying – which I eventually did on the last meal before he drove me back to the airport in the evening.
We really had one thing in common; an active and sporty lifestyle. He was an Iron Man competitor (triathlon) and also did lots of skiing, climbing and hiking so even though we could not speak very much on the entire day, we showed each other pictures and could get an understanding of each others lives. Almaty seemed like a very nice city to live in. A modern and wealthy big city with a population of 1,5 million people living there. Kazakhstan are big in oil and gas and they are also the biggest exporter of uranium, so there are great job opportunities here. At the same time it offers lots of recreational possibilities and people seemed very sporty and healthy. A likable place!
I don’t know if I’ll ever return though. After this big trip of mine, I’ve set a few travel goals (for example climbing Aconcagua in Argentina, the highest mountain in South America) but besides that I think that the majority of my travels will go to the United States. Speaking of the United States, only a few more stops and I’m there and I really can’t wait!