Hello Borat! This is the home of the notorious peasant Borat who goes to America to make a movie about the USA. But we soon found out that they were "not amused" about Borat. Meanwhile, around the world, the general public loved Borat and it was the movie that attracted us to this obscure part of the planet. Vic Dillinger provides the film review: "This 2006 film was shot in mockumentary style by its lead character, Borat Sagdiyev (played by Sacha Baron Cohen, a British comedian, on one of the most inventive film roles ever created)."
The capital city is Almaty and that stands for apple. Another big apple with a flashy and opulent city centre, mostly of monuments and parade grounds of a bygone era.
So take a look at the map below and find your bearings.
Don!t worry if you can!t pronounce the names. This is a picture story and most of it is written during bumpy bus rides and snatches at the different airports where the Internet does not always link up. Here we are, tucked up against the other side of the Tien Shan Mountains in a modern and in places, opulent city. The difference between these two countries is what makes one prosper and the other struggle to make ends meet - Oil. A 3 letter word controlled by power and politics.
As you can see it is the greenest City in the country but all is not well in the land of Borat. We are touring with two ladies who work in the oil industry in the Caspian Sea district. When we hear that the oil price has dropped we do not realize that it creates a financial wipeout almost instantaneously for countries and especially people who rely on this commodity for their income. Overnight people lost their jobs and once thriving countries like Kazakhstan experienced a sudden economic collapse.
We were met by our charming and beautiful lady guide and taken on a nostalgic tour of the town - all the idealistic sculptures and monuments to heroes who gave up their lives for the great struggle. It is horrifying how people want to for a cause, even though they do not understand why. So here are some pictures of heroes and eternal flames if this sort of thing floats your boat.
War, what a waste and what is it for? For a start, you can build expensive extravagant kitschy monuments! But it will not add any value to your life or reach out to your heart and soul. It is lucky to place your hand on this book, so what the hell!Credit: Jim Visser
By some miracle there is a Church in this park that has survived not only earthquakes, but also the onslaught of communism and world wars and revolutions. It is made of wood, believe it or not. Today it is no longer used as a storage facility for confiscated religious icons. The doors are open to people who come to seek salvation.
We were then taken to see the local Saturday produce market. Eat your heart out, South Africa. Here you have vast avenues for the freshest home-grown food to gladden the heart. Herbs, fruit, nuts, vegetables, bee products, dairy, meat and fish as fresh and untainted as it should be. There must be a reason these people are so fit and well. No obesity, no ADD and dependence on medicine. Their food is their medicine!
Herbs grow freely on the streets and I have already identified many of them, ready for the picking that can boost immunity, control blood pressure and diabetes and help to flush out all the crap out of your system. The market sells a lot of dried medicinal herbs and doubles up as a pharmacy.
And now for something completely different, a visit to the museum of music. Here are some of the most unique instruments from around the world. We also met some of the children who were all carrying cellphones, iPad or tablets around. Taking selfies, filming and going wi-fi. Average age? 9 years old. There are representatives of over 120 different nationalities in this country but they all seem to speak Russian and a Bit of English as well as their Mother tongue. They all seem to be hard working and don't litter. Yep, they don't trash the place because their parents (the ones who pay for all of this) may have to clean up after them.
After that we headed for the mountains and were hounded up a steep climb to the top of the Tien Shan mountain pass. Phew. 800 steps and we all made it to the top. To the snowy white peaks. This is a popular ski resort in winter but we enjoyed all the greenery of spring. I loved seeing the horses. Please note that if you need a hot meal, the microwave is also at the ready!
That's it for now. We are going to have a Chinese lunch for a change and then take a break in the boring clumsy Astra business hotel. So far we have not found Borat, but we will keep on looking!
You can watch the movie now, and if you want to see more about the silk route you can go to Uzbekisthan. See the link below.