Kazakhstan is one of the largest countries in the world, and it has lots of influences from its even bigger neighbours Russia and China. Most of the country is covered by an arid steppe with monotonous views and in the middle of all this you will find the capital Nur-Sultan (formerly known as Astana) with futuristic buildings to enjoy. I myself visited Almaty (formerly known as Alma-Ata) situated in the south, by the majestic Trans-Altai mountains. From Almaty it is common to do excursions to the natural wonders of those mountains, such as to Lake Kolsay or Lake Issyk, or to Charyn Canyon. For busy country collectors it is worthy to notice that it is possible to make a day trip by bus and taxi from Almaty to its neighbouring country Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek.
As an independent traveller I found it important to take the local bus to Almaty city centre and it turned out to be very difficult. Since Almaty is very vast and the city has no special landmark to indicate a notable centre, I noticed that after an hour that the bus had passed the centre long time ago. There was no other option than to buy a new ticket and return in the opposite direction along monotonous Soviet like huge buildings and broad park-like lanes. It was also obvious that the bus drives had found a way to collect cash payments for bus drives to their own pockets, whereby they do not give a ticket for the ride. (By the way, cash payments cost the double amount than what loadable travel cards do). After a while, the bus driver stopped nevertheless, walked out of his booth and handed me nevertheless a ticket. The reason was obvious, on the next bus stop waited a gang of ticket inspectors, of which he obviously had got information about through his channels. I wonder if he would have denied me having paid him for the ride, if I had been caught riding without a ticket… Anyway, Kazakhs seem cheerful and friendly, happy to advice tourists despite language barriers. And there are lots of those, since all signs and menus are printed with Cyrillic letters only.
Kazhak food is very meat and rice oriented. If you wish to taste a bit different meat protein, then horse meat is your choice (kuurdak). Horse meat is tasty, a bit darker and less chewy than for example beef. Shuzuk is a typical horse sausage and sur-et smoked horse meat. A recommendable meal is beshbarmak (horse meat and noodles). If you are a fan of exotic drinks with your meal, then you might try camel milk or mare’s milk. I myself enjoyed a juice pressed of sour Kazakh cherries.