Come to Kazakhstan, It’s Nice!

Come to Kazakhstan, It’s Nice!

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The first day in Kazakhstan was exciting, because we finally felt that we are in Asia. Mainly because just at the beginning of our stay someone asked us for “selfie”. We didn’t want to believe neither fellow travelers complaining on the steppes of Kazakhstan, nor our first driver, who warned us about not so friendly people. Although most of the warnings turned out to be true, there is one thing in Kazakhstan which gave us a lot of good memories – Couchsurfing.

Janna started our good run with Couchsurfing in Kazakhstan. Even if she was born in Russia, she feels real Kazakh. She hopes that one day her whole family will come back to the country. Thanks to her we still believe in any sense of belonging and patriotism of Kazakhs. Many of them, despite the collapse of the Soviet Union still uses Russian language. Some of them do not even know Kazakh language, despite the fact that they feel Kazakhs. For two girls raised in Poland and taught about Polish history, it was hard to understand this attitude.

The next town on our route was Baikonur. You can access it in two ways. The first is quite formal. You have to apply for a visa to Russia, and then for a special permit to visit the Russian city built for cosmodrome employees in Kazakhstan. We found the second way to get into the town by accident, while we were reading references of our host, Ilya. We had no idea that Baikonur, a city lying on the Kazakh steppe, belongs to … the Russian Federation. Less formal way to the city is through the concrete wall forming so-called township.

We arrived in Ilya’s apartment late, but it didn’t prevent us from drinking few beers and talking to his Russian and Kazakh friends. Vlad just like us was hitch-hiking towards China. After a short conversation it turned out that we heard about each other and we have some mutual friends from the journey. In the end we all ended up on the same floor in Ilya’s apartment. Vlad showed us what we had missed this evening. We were half an hour late for the start of the spacecraft from the nearby cosmodrome. It was not anything big, blue flash crossing the sky, and yet impressive. The next day, the only Kazakh among Ilya’s friends, decided to take us on a tour of Baikonur. We saw the river Syr Darya, huge model of rocket, in which Yuri Gagarin flew into space, his statue and not so spectacular museum. Next morning Ilya took us out of the city, so that steppe stretched to the horizon again and the only outstanding point was the spaceport.

In the evening we reached Turkestan, known mainly for its impressive mausoleum of Hodja Ahmad Jasawi, Turkish peot and mystic. The front of a UNESCO world heritage site remained unfinished, lacking the two planned minarets. Only the rear wall of the mausoleum is carefully decorated with small, blue mosaic and gilding. This is the most interesting architectural object which we’ve seen in Kazakhstan. We spent the day with our Turkish host and guide, Caglar, who persuaded us to try a traditional Kazakh kumiss, fermented horse milk. We didn’t listen advice of other travelers, because you have to try everything on your own, but now we regret it and do not recommend kumiss to anyone. :)

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We've met each other during classes the least associated with our faculty at the university and it couldn't be an accident. Silly grinning at our English teacher telling about his hitch-hiking adventures, we haven't known yet that we will begin to travel together. The series of unfortunate events made us share a tent, a camera and memories. Now almost nothing can stop us from hitch-hiking.

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