Days 177 and 178 - Around Astana - Mon 19 and Tues 20 Aug
boutique hotel in the city - organised laundry
and GirlRob had her hair coloured at salon on site. Half way through plastering
on layers of sticky colour the woman said "you husband know you do this
you hair??" With all paperwork downloaded from internet, passport photos
and attachments filled in in advance, had no trouble getting Ukraine visa from
consulate. Free then to spend the days exploring the sights and revelling in the
attractive outdoor art – a respite after crudeness of signs and town icons in
Under blistering blue skies, enjoyed the crazy architecture of Astana,
President Nazarbeyev’s long term vision. Called “Tomorrowland”, the
city has been dubbed an architect’s playground in the midst of a vast flat steppe,
where “East meets West”. Twin copper green glass buildings straddle the magnificent
square housing the Ak Orda Presidential Palace, with the petal shaped Concert
Hall off to one side.
The showcase is certainly the Khan Shatyr, a giant transparent “tent” covering an area
larger than 10 football stadiums. It houses an enormous shopping mall, entertainment
venues, town squares with cobbled streets, a boating river, and an indoor
resort with a wave pool.
Surprised to find the ticket office/ elevator to
the top of the spectacular Bayterek tower closed for lunch, missing out on the
Given the number of parks, walks and spectacular gardens there
was a notable lack of crowds throughout. Walked past four men in suits and
sunglasses sitting silently in a sedan watching passers-by (goosebump time….)
It was sobering to see odd signs of decline of infrastructure in such a short
time since construction, eg popped rivets and tiles, cracked pavements, fallen
eaves and rusted columns (we imagine the excessive winter temperatures play
havoc with buildings and roadworks).
The Pyramid of Peace, which accommodates Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism,
Daoism and other faiths inside, lights up at night in colours representing the
Kazakhstan flag. We dined
at a restaurant called Lime Brew and enjoyed the Brady Bunch look-a-like boy
band and their 60’s music, before saying goodnight to this amazing city.