Last year I visited 3 of the Stan countries and this year I visited the other 2, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. you can argue about how many Stan countries there are but “the Stans” was the name given to the 5 ex-sovjet republics who end all on “stan”. I’m not counting Pakistan, Afghanistan in this category. The biggest Stan would be Kazakhstan and I got to visit Astana which is the current modern capital, which will be hosting the World expo next year in 2017 and the former capital Almaty (more on this in a future post)
When you visit a country you need to make a choice in what you want to see and as for now I wanted to specifically go see these 2 cities. In future I might go back to see more of the country. Last year I had to deal with getting my Turkmenistan,Uzbekistan and Tajikistan visa on time, but this year it was more easy since European citizens don’t need visa for Kazakhstan untill the end of 2017, after that who knows maybe they will expand it and a simple passport stamp will do. Kyrgyzstan was already a visa-free country for a couple of years. So the first stop on my Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan trip was Astana.
I only knew Astana from the famous cycling team “Astana” that competes every year in the Tour the France, The Vuelta and the Giro, other than that I knew it was a very modern city, with weird buildings and some even call it the Ashgabat of Kazakhstan, although I think that’s a little bit to far, cause Ashgabat is still the craziest city I have seen when it comes to modern buildings. Astana is a very clean city and that’s where I can compare it with Ashgabat.
One of the modern buildings that’s stands out in Astana is the Bayterek monument, it’s a tower on which you can go up with an elevator to have a view over the city. You can see the Presidential Palace of President Nazarbayev at one side and on the other side you see the Khan Satyr which is a big shopping mall in the shape of a tent with restaurants, cinemas, theme park, …
Tourists and locals can put their hand into a handprint of the Republic’s president Nazarbayev and then usually the national anthem starts playing but the day I was there it was full of locals who all wanted to put their hand into the handprint of the president and because it was so crowded they put the music off. If you want to hear the national anthem you can go to the national museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan and you will hear it in the intro about the country that is given at the beginning of the museum tour.
I spend 3 days in Astana and it was just enough to see everything, the monuments, the buildings, the malls and not to forget the museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan which to me is a must-see.
SOME MODERN BUILDINGS