I write this next blog post with a heavy heart after learning the news of a fatal plane crash at the Almaty, Kazakhstan Airport. The cause of the crash, which killed all 21 aboard is still under investigation, but it is suspected that extreme weather played a role.
After the train ride from hell, a phantom hotel reservation and Dr. Kazakh’s (not his real name but for the sake of writing it sounds good) employment of ancient instruments, it finally seemed as if I was bound to have some good days ahead of me.
|The Hawk and I!|
|The middle of nowhere in KZ|
The goal of the move was to construct a brand new capital from scratch that would serve as a showcase for a modern Kazakhstan. And, what a showcase it is! After years of construction, failed projects and broken promises, Astana finally has come into its own as a modern world-class city. These days the city is dotted with towering futuristic looking skyscrapers, luxury apartments and a tent containing an entire mini city the size of ten football fields.
Probably the highlight of my visit to Astana was visiting the observation tower, Bayterek. Bayterek Tower is to Astana as the Kremlin is to Moscow, the symbol of a city, if not an entire nation (the tower is on the back of the nation’s currency). The tower's shape is modeled after a poplar tree holding a golden egg, both of which are central symbols in Turkic mythology.
|One of the many colors of Bayterek Tower.|
The next day I returned to the ex-capital where I would spend one more night before departing to the Ukraine’s Crimea. My last night in Kazakhstan was great. I met with my friend for dinner, had a nice stroll through the downtown part and to top it all off the weather that evening was absolutely outstanding, clear skies and balmy temperatures! A perfect ending to a trip that started off on the rough side. Life was good!! However, as I walked back to my hotel room I looked up at the night sky and could see storm clouds approaching, a perfect metaphor for the coming day's events!! Stay tuned for the dramatic conclusion of my trip to Kazakhstan!