MY: Almaty Trip Summary

Landed at KUL couple of minutes before 11pm local time. Taxied to contact pier at KLIA. By 11:40pm, I was on the train to XKL where BH was waiting for me.

Now, let me give my view and conclusion on my trip to Almaty.

Overall, Kazakhstan is bored if you are stuck in the cities like Almaty or Astana. In fact, I was told living in Astana increases your boredom meter. However, translating this into “money management”, then it is good since you don’t have many things to spend your money on.

Here are my observations for the last four days during beginning of winter in Almaty, Kazakhstan

Working: Not favour of this. You feel alienated since all businesses are conducted in Russian. So do the workers. Only handful of them speaks English. All signboards are in Russian. No English words at all. I know the same in Middle East where majority speak Arabic. However, the feeling is different. 

Moving around: Pretty hard since Almaty is not a “city center”. Meaning, there is no down town. You must know where to go. There is no such thing as I want to go to Mall A then walk around the area. There may only be Mall A there and nothing else. Not many taxi around, however there are “private cars” where you have to negotiate the fare and must know the exact place to go. Bear in mind these “private cars” can slaughter you as foreigners easily. Literally, if you are behind the wheel, you are licensed to pick and drop passengers wherever and whenever you want. Driving your own car may not be a good idea unless you have been in the country for quite sometimes.

People: Kazakhstan has more than 100 nationalities/ethnics. There are local Kazakh (looks like Mongolian), ethnic Russia, Tartar, Korean, etc. Therefore, the tolerance level towards foreigners are high. You may experience positive encounter with the locals and may also have negative view on it. 

Food: The country may have majority of Muslim people. However, be careful when eating at the restaurant because some Muslims here do eat pork and drink alcohol. Ramadan is not respected (I dare to say this since I was told by people who have been here long enough) and you will not see any or very minimal Islam being practised as a way of life. The best thing is to go to the restaurants that serve no pork at all. All restaurants that I have been do serve alcohol. There is no international fast food chain like KFC, McD or any of those international brand coffee shops (Starbucks, Coffee Bean etc..).

Surrounding Area/Travel: This country is rich in natural beauties. Apart from Almaty, Astana and petroleum cities around Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan has lots to offer for nature’s lovers. However, the tourism industry is not being aggressively marketed. Only those people who are in the country would know the untouched area in the country. Everybody needs a visa in advance before entering the country. This is a negative point for tourism. There is a railway system connecting Almaty and Uzbekistan (not sure about other countries). One of the company staff does a once in fortnight trip from Almaty to Tashkent (overnight train from Almaty to Uzbek town for 3000 tenge and another 3000 tenge for a taxi from the Uzbek town to Tashkent). For info, USD1 = 120.5 tenge = RM3.45.

Standard of Living: This is very high. Basic meal for small soda and a plate of kebab costs around 700 tenge. Kebab seems to be cheaper than burger. Rental is quoted in USD and a semi-dee house within a gated community can fetch USD4million. The average two rooms apartment in Almaty costs circa USD3500 – USD4000. You can get a cheaper rate for old Soviet-era apartment building.

~ MT @ Malaysia
~~ Sunway Damansara, Petaling Jaya

~ To Travel Is To Discover Oneself ~


zal said...

total no no lah for almaty ni.... mcm sesuai je ngan nama dia... Al-Mati

MT said...

I have decided not to take up the offer... so, no for me..

Almaty (al-ma-a-ti), if i am not mistaken, means "apple"...