University of Wisconsin–Madison

Exotic Birds, Beshbarmak, and First President’s Park

12:13 AM ALMT, July 25, 2015 – Almaty, Kazakhstan

It’s been eleven days since my last post. My sincerest apologies to all my readers (aka sorry mom). Here’s a recap of all that I’ve done during that time.

EsentaiPark

Thursday the 16th, I went to my second futbol game here in Kazakhstan, which was very fun. Almaty’s team Kairat was taking on Alashkert from Armenia. They ended up winning 3-0, which is great because then afterwards the whole city echoes with chants of “Kairat – Champion” and a custom version of the classic “Olé Olé Olé” futbol song. For example, riding on a packed Metro car after the game to the other side of town and the chanting and celebrations didn’t break for more than a few seconds. We did some exploration of Almaty’s nightlife after the game to wrap up the night. Good times.

Kairat2

That Saturday I went to Mega, which is basically a big mall, with my Kazakh friend Saule (who actually lived in the US for 6 years and studied at UW-Madison). We met up with Yasha after awhile and headed to First President’s Park which is probably the biggest park in Almaty, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. George Washington really should have asked for a couple of these parks.

PresidentsPark1

Sunday I went with my hosts to the Baraholka Bazaar, which puts the Green Bazaar to shame. Supposedly it’s something like 7-8 km long (never saw the end of it). And it’s dense. We walked through a couple hundred feet of it and saw just about everything you could possibly want to buy. It was also super hot. The highs have been hovering around 100F for the last two weeks. Well on Sunday it reached 108F at one point. Toasty. Bought some cheap knock-off Ray Bans to fend off the Sun.

BaraholkaBazaar

Monday, Gulsana made бешбармак (Beshbarmak), which is one of Kazakhstan’s most famous dishes. It literally means “with five fingers” in Kazakh – which is exactly how you’re supposed to eat it. It was delicious and I don’t remember being that been that full in quite some time.

Beshbarmak

Today was jam packed with fun stuff. We started off the day with an official excursion to an exotic bird show (Птицы!) which we had been promised since Day 1 in Almaty by our resident director, so we were all really anxious. It was a bit shorter than we had imagined, but was still very cool. Our presenter was very comical and actually spoke English pretty well.

ExoticBirds1

Afterwards we headed to First President’s Park to play Frisbee and relax. Then we set out to find some food and ended up at a restaurant called Ракета, or Rocket(!). A few of us met up later to see Paper Towns at a theater in Esentai Mall.

PresidentsPark2

Well, that’s all from me for now. Thanks for reading.

Garrett