From China to Kazahkstan on My way to Iran

Almaty Travel Blog

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View from my window at the Kazoo Hotel

From Beijing I flew across China, changed planes in Urumqi and then continued on to Almaty.  I arrived quite late so was glad I had pre-arranged a hotel and transfer to meet me at the airport.  I was taken to Hotel Kazoo which was about what I expected, in a more residential area but within walking distance to the main downtown area.

The next day I met with my travel agent , David (StanTours) who was still working on getting me a Tajikistan visa from which I then hoped to fly into Iran.   David was a very friendly and helpful fellow who had been living in Almaty for quite some time.  Since I needed to get a Krygzstan visa, he also provided me with directions to the embassy and I eventually headed off on foot.

Downtown winter street in Almaty
  As it turned out, finding the Krygyz embassy was more complicated than I expected and even though I had a map in my LP book, it was less than helpful.  Have you ever found this with guidebook maps?  I find that when you show them to locals and they also look confused..... that is not a good sign! 

Anyway, after wandering around in a fairly residential area and asking locals for some help (to no avail), I proceeded to a large nearby hotel.  I figured they should definitely be able to help me .... but that would have been too easy.  Instead, they put me back in contact with my travel agent who again tried to give me directions over the phone.  The problem was that the embassy had recently moved so he did not really know exactly where it was.

Almaty Government building
  Eventually, after being assured I "was close" I headed off again.  At this point I was starting to wonder ... do I really have to visit Bishkek?  But i decided to stick with my original plan and persevered.  After a half hour more of wandering and working up a bit of a sweat (thank goodness it was wintertime and fairly cool) I was just about to give up.  However, spotting a policeman/uniformed guard, I decided to ask one more time for assistance.  However, just as I was about to open my mouth I noticed a small plaque behind the guard indicating that I had in fact stumbled upon the Krygystan embassy....thank God!

From there it was a relatively simple process and after having a nice chat with the offical, paying the requisite fee, I had a new visa in my passport.

Me, Asem and Azat at dinner
  At this point, i was prett spent for the day and headed back to the hotel to rest.  Then later that evening I met with my friend Azat and her lovely daughter for a wonderful dinner.  It was so nice to meet them both after having spent some time exchanging e-mails.

The next day, I  wandered around the downtown area  and got a good image as to how Almaty looks in the winter.  Clearly, there were not loads of people on the streets and yet, seeing a busker and families wandering in Panfilov Park served to demonstrate that Kazahk people are used to wintertime temperatures.

The following morning I headed to the nearby bus station and then hopped a minivan to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.  And so ended my initial visit to Kazahkstan but I hope to  return again someday to see much more of this beautiful land.

 

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View from my window at the Kazoo H…
View from my window at the Kazoo …
Downtown winter street in Almaty
Downtown winter street in Almaty
Almaty Government building
Almaty Government building
Me, Asem and Azat at dinner
Me, Asem and Azat at dinner
Adorable Asem
Adorable Asem
An Almaty monument
An Almaty monument
In Panfilov Park
In Panfilov Park
Looking towards the War Monument
Looking towards the War Monument
Feeding pidgeons in Panfilov Park
Feeding pidgeons in Panfilov Park
Zenkov Cathedral in Panfilov Park
Zenkov Cathedral in Panfilov Park
I think these are poor pensioners …
I think these are poor pensioners…
A violin busker near the Silk Way …
A violin busker near the Silk Way…
View of the Almaty bus station
View of the Almaty bus station
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photo by: Alfiya