A very pleasant delay in Kazakhstan (Day 267)
Sad to leave South Korea and on to Kazakhstan for a quick stopover
Our first flight to Almaty was very pleasant. In fact, I’d be bold to say the best flight we have had so far on our #grownuptravels. A USB phone charger, meaning I could waste time and do a multitude of Sudoku, the food was definitely edible, even with a gift box of chocolates and a great choice of entertainment.
The first film I watched was The Mercy, based on a true story of an amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst who competed in the Golden Globe Race, a non-stop, single-handed, round-the-world yacht race in 1968. The main character was played by Colin Firth and his wife played by Rachel Weisz. No spoiler alert here. Go and watch it. Unless you read the reviews or you already know the story, then, like me, you may be in for a surprise. Right at the start, at the Boat Show, Donald was inspired by a speech from Sir Francis Chichester and quoted: “Dreams are the seeds of action” The original full quote by American actress Debby Boone is “Dreams are the seeds of change. Nothing ever grows without a seed, and nothing ever changes without a dream.” I like that.
The next film I watched was “Beatriz at Dinner” starring Salma Hayek as Beatriz, a poor massage therapist who moved to America from Mexico and ended up attending a wealthy client’s dinner party after her car breaks down. The film was described as a comedy. Did I miss something? I thought comedies were supposed to be funny. I found it quite morose! It just shows us that our experience comes from within. One person sees something as funny, another as morose! Also, Beatriz is supposed to be into living a healthy life, but in one scene she is smoking! Mmm…perhaps that’s the comedy!
I did stop watching this film halfway through and wrote a blog on Blind-spots – will be out soon, and then continued to the end of the film. I thought it may improve. Don’t waste your time with this one.
We arrived at Almaty and got chatting to a young Russian couple in the queue for immigration. We’d noticed them in Seoul as she had gorgeous pink hair with a perfectly matching umbrella. Moments like this, connecting with people, are really special. The guy was in a Rock Band called Broforce and gave Tim some stickers. Hardcore heavy metal – not our musical genre!
We were here for a short transfer flight to Astana. Unfortunately, the 3-hour wait turned out to be over 6 hours. The flight kept getting delayed. Customer service is all about clear communication. I’d give them 6/10 for that. We did get a free cup of water though!
However, the time trundled by a lot quicker due to us chatting with a delightful young lady, Aidana, who turned 25 the day before. She very kindly gave us access to her wifi as I wanted to let the taxi company know of our delay and also suddenly realised that I hadn’t informed our bank of the change of country. It would have been a bit embarrassing arriving with no money and no means to get any out.
Aidana works in Astana in an Exhibition company and is interested in marketing tourism for the country. We had a great chat about this, how she feels that the country could do so much more in terms of sharing what great natural and cultural things Kazakhstan has to offer and her face lit up when she was talking about this. She showed us photos of the nation’s equestrian sport called Baiga. It’s such a shame that we only have one morning here, well it would have included an evening if we hadn’t been stuck in an airport with our cup of water.
We finally arrived with our taxi driver patiently waiting for us, and he kindly pointed out a few landmarks: the amazing glass globe “Nur Alem” built for Expo 2017 and is the world's largest spherical building, a diameter of 80m and height of 100m. It was beautiful to see, with it lit up like a huge balloon, changing colour.
We also saw a quick glimpse of Norman Foster’s Pyramid of Peace, the Presidential palace, which looks like a version of The White House in Washington, with an additional blue dome and spire on top, and one of the largest mosques in Central Asia which looks like a huge white wedding cake lit up “Hazrat Sultan”, named in honour of 12th century Sheikh Hodja Akhmed Yassavi, a poet, philosopher and Muslim saint.
Sadly, we were too tired to take many photos, perhaps tomorrow. We both love looking at architecture and I think we are in for a treat here in Astana, one of the world’s newest capitals which have certainly gone to town getting the top architects to create a city of incredible buildings.