The Beach, Bazaar, and Futbol

5:38 PM ALMT, July 13, 2015 – Almaty, Kazakhstan

Currently I’m hanging out in my room, jammin’ to some StewRat and eating an unhealthy amount of yellow cherries, which I bought at the Green Bazaar. Most Kazakhs are wrapping up the work day and coming home to their families now, so the paths that run along my apartment building see a fair bit of traffic around this time. The paths meander around a parking lot and a series of playgrounds that dot this area of Almaty. Little Kazakh children run around down there all hours of the day and sometimes a futbol game materializes.


Last week was an extra short week of classes for us. Normally we have class Monday through Thursday and then our resident director organizes an excursion to a park, museum, or some other attraction for Thursday evening, Friday, or Saturday. Last Monday was День Столицы, or Capital Day, which celebrates the day Kazakhstan’s capital was moved from Almaty to Astana in 1994. It’s a national holiday so we had the day off, hence, the extra long weekend. And we made great use of the long weekend. Here are some highlights from the past week.


Saturday, July 4, I went to Lake Kapchagay with Olzhas, Gulsana, and some of their friends. We made plans to go to the lake after seeing that temperatures were supposed break 100°F in the region. It took about three times longer than the usual hour trip due to traffic but we eventually made it. I think that was the hottest weather I’ve ever been in. Temps must’ve hit 110°F at one point. We rode a banana boat, played volleyball, and I brought along my Frisbee which are, as far as I can tell, nonexistent in Kazakhstan.


For Capital Day, I did lunch with a couple friends, went bowling, and then strolled around Central Park. A lot of people were out in the park for the holiday. It was a beautiful park and they had some carnival rides set up among other things. Dante and I rode the Space Gun and he had a mild nervous breakdown before the ride started (not really, but kinda).


Thursday after class I had донер, or doner, for the first time, which we were repeatedly warned not to eat (oops). It’s basically a giant fried burrito with a really odd mix of foods on the inside. It was decent, but wasn’t the greatest thing I’ve ever eaten. But the real fun Thursday was going to my first futbol match in Kazakhstan. Almaty’s home team FC Kairat was playing a team from Serbia in Central Stadium which is only a 15 minute walk from my apartment. Very fun experience, it only cost ₸500 ($3), and they won 2-1!


Friday was my second time at the Green Bazaar, a supermarket where they sell anything you can imagine, but it’s largely dominated by fruits and veggies. I bought about a pound of yellow cherries, a container of these red, grape-like things, and a few bananas all for $5. The other students and I went to the Bazaar after touring the Museum of Kazakh Musical Instruments, where we got a short concert from three fine musicians. They were playing the dombra, kobyz, and zhetigen, which were all very fascinating to watch and hear.


Friday evening, my Kazakh friend Zhamal invited me to play soccer with her brothers and some of their friends. The fields were located a ways up the mountains so it took a bit more effort than usual due to the thinner atmosphere. Lots of futbol lately and I love it. Well, that’s all from me for now.

Thanks for reading,