Keay Meets Kazakhstan


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Plov Master Class – Plov is a signature dish of Central Asia. It is a relatively simple dish made from rice, meat, carrots, and onions. My host mom offered to give me a ‘Plov Master Class’, and teach me how to make Kazakh plov. In this photo I am showing off our plov which we paired nicely with one of our family-size serving dishes.
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Big Almaty Lake –  Big Almaty Lake was a nice place for us to sit back and relax on a beautiful day in the mountains. In this photo, two of our students take in the spectacular views.
Big Almaty Rock Climbing –  At Big Almaty Lake there is a hill of rocks that beckoned to us. Like little children at a playground, we darted to the rocks and began to climb and sit and enjoy each other’s company. The extra elevation gave us even better views of the exquisite blue lake below.
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The Descent into Charyn Canyon –  It is hard to choose my favorite photo of Charyn Canyon, but this one will always make the list. This photo shows the beginning of our journey in the canyon. I was following our guide as she led us to this path as I noticed that a large portion of our group was still at the top taking photos. This shot shows some of the dimensions and height of the canyon while also giving a realistic vantage point of where our hike began.
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Canyon Carvings –  Charyn Canyon is filled with rock structures of various shapes and sizes. Some even look like animals. If I had not known I was in Kazakhstan, I could easily have mistaken these rocks for being in the American southwest.
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Sunset at Charyn –  It was sunset by the time we finished our hike at Charyn Canyon, and the views with the setting sun were spectacular. In this photo, students stand at the top of the canyon after finishing the last portion of our climb.
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Kolsai Lake –  The lake at Kolsai is beautifully nestled in the middle of the snow-capped Tien Shan mountains, making it one of the most stunning natural sights in Kazakhstan. In this photo is a path that leads up from one side of the first lake.
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Kolsai – I’m in a Boat –  What do you do with an empty boat facing a beautiful mountain backdrop? You pose for an impromptu photo shoot of course! In this photo I am framing the image of the mountains in my mind to remember them after I leave Kazakhstan.
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Outside of Kaindy –  The sunken ghost trees of Kaindy were beautiful to see, but they were not easy to reach. To get to the lake you must first drive from the village of Saty through rough terrain and dirt roads that only a 4×4 truck or jeep can manage. Then you hike uphill through mud, snow, and ice. Yet the view is well worth the effort! In this photo, our two drivers relax while we were waiting for the remainder of our group to finish the hike back to the cars.
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Wide Open Spaces –  While driving back to Almaty after our trip to Kaindy Lake, we passed by a section of Charyn Canyon. As we were driving, all we could see was dry open land flanking each side of the road. Yet when we pulled over here, we could see down into a river cutting through the canyon below. Looking opposite of that gorge stood our bus. This photo is a nod to the wheels that got us safely to the pockets of nature that we were all so thankful to experience in person.
Aisha Bibi –  The mausoleum of Aisha Bibi is one of the most popular sites in Taraz. In this photo, our guide is explaining to our group in Russian about the history and significance of this structure. My host mom’s parents live in Taraz. Since Taraz is not far from Almaty, it is common for students and young people from Taraz to move to Almaty in order to experience the fast-paced life of the city.
The Mausoleum of Khawaja Ahmed Yasawi –  Travelers journeying to this 14TH century mausoleum gave Turkestan the nickname of “The Mecca of Central Asia”. The mausoleum is a UNESO World Heritage Site, but one of the most interesting details of this site of that construction was halted in 1405 when Timur (ruler of Central Asia) died. The mausoleum was never completed, as seen in this photo of the main entrance, but exquisite mosaic tiles can be seen decorating the other sides.
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Why did the Camel Cross the Road? –  While on the bus leaving Turkestan, our driver had to carefully maneuver around a camel! He did not seem very bothered by the cars or noise, but it did make quite a sight! We took a day trip to Turkestan during our weekend in Taraz.
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Green House at the Almaty Botanical Garden –  I would recommend that all visitors to Almaty visit the Botanical Garden. I went on a beautiful Friday afternoon in September, and the colors of the flowers paired with the mountains in the background was simply picturesque. This photo was taken inside of the greenhouse. 
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Kazakh Museum of Folk Musical Instrument –  We went on several excursions around Almaty to museums that corresponded with a lecture on Kazakh history and culture. These included topics like art, clan history, and folk music. The Kazakh Museum of Folk Musical Instruments is filled with dombras and kobyz made in various shapes and from a range of materials. Many of the instruments on display once belonged to famous Kazakh musicians.

By: Victorialyn Keay

Program: Advanced Russian Language and Area Studies

Term: Fall 2017


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