Seventh Destination on my Dream Trip Around the World
08.06.2015 18 °C
I have finally landed in Almaty, Kazakhstan, following a 14 hour 30 minute flight from Venice, during which, there was a 6 and a half hour layover in Istanbul, Turkey. The flight cost $934.00 and covered a distance of about 5000 kilometres. Almaty is the first Asian stop on my worldwide voyage. I chose to visit this city because I feel that it, as well as Kazakhstan as a whole, are "off the beaten path". Therefore, by spending time here, I can discover, experience and learn about a part of the world that I currently do not know much about. However, my exploration of Almaty will have to wait until tomorrow, as it is already late in the evening and I am very tired from my long flight. I am now en route to my hotel, the Royal Tulip Almaty, where I will get some sleep before a full day of sightseeing tomorrow.
Today is my second day in Almaty. Refreshed from an eight-hour sleep, I am now ready to begin sightseeing. Today, I will be visiting the Medeu Skating Rink and Kok Tobe hill, both located in the east end of the city. The Medeu Skating Rink is the highest skating rink in the world in terms of its altitude and it was used as a venue for skating during the 2011 Asian Winter Games. Furthermore, Kok Tobe hill is located not too far away from the rink and boasts stunning views of Almaty and the surrounding countryside. Also on Kok Tobe hill, is Almaty Tower, the tallest tubular steel structure in the world.
My visit to the Medeu Skating rink was amazing! The facility was world-class, and its lack of a roof meant the fresh mountain air was able to fill the rink, allowing for a truly unique and memorable experience (even though I was only able to walk on the rink because it is summer and therefore, is not cold enough for skating). Moreover, the views from the top of the hill were picturesque and the tower was a magnificent sight, although it is a shame that the observation decks are not accessible to the public. To ascend and descend the hill, I travelled on a cable car which also offered great views, as well as a relaxing ride. Before eating dinner and calling it a night, I will pay a visit to Zenkov Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox church located in Panfilov Park in Almaty's east end. The Cathedral is built of wood and is in fact, the second tallest building in the world.
It is now my last day in Kazakhstan's most populous city. Today, I will be travelling approximately two and a half hours north of Almaty to visit Tamgaly Tas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tamgaly Tas is a petroglyph site (petroglyphs are drawings or carvings on rock, made by prehistoric peoples), containing drawings and carvings nearly 3000 years old. In addition to the petroglyphs, I have heard that the park features great hiking and biking trails, perfect for enjoying Kazakhstan's back country's unspoiled natural beauty.
Tamgaly Tas was well worth the visit. I have never seen prehistoric carvings or drawings before, so the experience was a first for me. At the moment, I have returned to the city and have just completed a visit to the Central State Museum. The museum featured various exhibits about the history of Kazakhstan, including sections on archaeology, culture and modern history (1991 independence of Kazakhstan from the Soviet Union and onwards). I feel that visiting this museum was the best way for me to learn more about this landlocked nation in central Asia. After an authentic Kazakh dinner at Gosti restaurant, I will return to my hotel to rest before departing for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia tomorrow morning.