Art Point Fest, Kok Tobe, and Lake Issyk

2:30 AM ALMT, August 6, 2015 – Almaty, Kazakhstan

I took ~7 hours of Russian exams today, so if you’re reading this, consider yourself warned; may contain non-sequitors. I never thought I’d say this, but I wish we had been given a syllabus at the start of classes. None of us have any idea how our grades are calculated or how heavily weighted our exams are. Nonetheless, it’s done now, and I can just relax for my last week(!) here in Kazakhstan. Tomorrow we’re partyin’ it up with our instructors for our last day at the university. Despite the overflow of exams, I managed to do some fun stuff during the last 10 days.

On Saturday the 25th of July, I finally made it to Kok Tobe, which is a recreational area and an observational radio tower that’s 372 m tall (1220 ft for my imperial friends across the Atlantic). You can see the tower from just about anywhere in the city. Unfortunately, the tower’s being remodeled right now, so we were unable to ascend to the observation deck, but my good Kazakh friend Zhamal, my hosts, and I all still had a great time.


Sunday I went to Art Point Fest which has become a favorite amongst our group. It’s an outdoor stage and movie theater in a park which attracts huge crowds some nights. We watched a couple Kazakh dance groups perform, and then Ghostbusters, of course.


Thursday, July 30, played host to another round of cheering on our futbol heroes at Central Stadium. Kairat played and beat Aberdeen and afterwards I spoiled myself with a nice long-sleeved jersey from the gift shop. Always a good time at Central Stadium.


The next day we woke up super early and rode a private bus to Lake Issyk about an hour away. Normally the water there is abnormally blue, at least from what I’ve seen in pictures and heard from locals, but it’s been so hot here lately that the snow has been melting much earlier than usual and carrying sediment into the lake. Still a very beautiful area for us to relax in and explore.


A few of us met up for the usual Saturday afternoon coffee and chat at CoffeeRoom but decided to find some шашлык, or shashlik, afterwards for dinner. Later that night, I went with Dante, Yasha, and my Kazak friends Saule and Sabina to Чукотка, or Chukotka, which is the premiere nightclub in Almaty. In bed no later than 5am and all was well. Great night.


Monday was Dante’s 21st, and his dying wish was to head to the beach. So to the beach we went. A guy named Roman joined our Frisbee circle and insisted that we take pictures with his family. So we did. Roman was incredibly nice, offering us chips and juice while explaining he would someday soon take his family to America to “get rich.” All the best, Roman.


Gulsana’s extended family was here from Moscow for the last couple days, so housing ~10 people in a 2-bedroom apartment was interesting. They were all very hospitable in making me feel like part of the fam. They were also very generous with shots of Russian vodka during dinner . . . all part of the experience, right?

My brains kinda mushy from all the exams I took today and adventures still await, so that’s all from me for now.

Thanks for reading,