At the great white stick of Kazakhstan

Koumiss … yuck

At the great white stick of Kazakhstan


Owing to our late arrival, we got a late start. At 10:00 or so, Beck, Wes, Sterling, Buribay and I went for a walk to a rock tower nestled in a fir forest. Sterlie and I went to the top and were treated to a great view of a city clinging to the foot of large hills at the edge of a large lake. It reminded me of photos of Switzerland.

Around lunchtime, we went into the town of Borevoye and ate at a restaurant made out to look like a desert wayside inn. We had Kazakh food – then off to a large park dedicated to the Abli Khan – a hero of Kazakhstan.

It is a low mountainous area strewn with boulders. Very picturesque. We hiked up to one of the formations called The Khan’s throne – which according to legend is the very spot that the great khan sat as he formed his army for some great battle. The tradition is that if you walk seven times around the throne, then touch a certain stone, that your wish will be granted.

On the way up to the rock, we stopped by a guy who had a large hunting eagle. For a small fee, you could don a leather sleeve and hold this huge bird. Sterlie did. The eagle was so big that his feet were on her arm , and his head was above hers.

After the throne, we set off for the gift shop and drink stand. This was our chance to order Koumiss (fermented horse milk) – which was served to us in the traditional wooden bowl. It was very sour with a bitter aftertaste. We westerners didn’t like it: the Kazakhs did – and in fact, Nurik ordered another bowl. From there we pressed on the main lake there and to view the “Rock of Mystery”. The mystery being that when viewed from one angle, it looks like an old woman, when viewed from another, a young woman. (I saw neither…). The swimming lake was next. The lake itself was nice, the beach leading down to it was very rough. We paid the small fee (though only swimmers had to pay.) I though I’d be among the swimmers, but when I went to put on the bathing suit that I had purchased at the Ramstor (it said “Magic Tribe Hula Honey” on it) I found that it was several sizes too small – even though it said x-large.

So while granny napped, and others swam, Beck, Sterl, Altyn and I went to the Barevoye bazaar. It turned out to be a much smaller, sedate affair than the one in Astana. We bought a few souvenirs for the folks back home, and a watermelon (Arbus in Kz) and a deep yellow cantaloupe. From thence, back to pick up the rest of the crew – since it was close to 5 PM. Such was Altyn’s zeal to pick up the rest that she drove a tad fast and got popped for a ticket. Which put us a half hour later. By the time we got to get them, the beach group were more than ready to go.

One note about the lake. Apparently, many Russians love to come here and set up tents around the lake for long-term stays. Some for as long as a month.

Then back to the house (Dacha). After we got back, Altyn and Adlet went back into the town to take Aynura to the bus station for the express van back to Astana, since she had an early flight to Almaty the next day.

On the way back they picked up some marinated chicken and mutton bits for shish kabob (shaslik), which they made on the grill in the yard. The grill was one that was made expressly for shaslik – long and narrow, so the skewers will rest across the fire. (Many other places had ones just like it: the Kazakhs love shaslik.) Then tables were set up in the yard, and we had a pleasant picnic in the yard. We stayed out ’til dark (9:30) chatting as best we could. It started getting chilly just past sundown – I finally got to use my jacket.

While in town, Altyn also added minutes to her phone, so I was able to call Barb. All in all, a very pleasant day.

During the meal, Altyn said that we needed to hold a ‘concilium” – a conference – to talk about what was going to happen the next day. The original plan had been to drive straight to Almaty tomorrow – a 17-hour drive. Altyn proposed that we drive back to Astana and stay the day, allowing her and Adlet to do the business they needed to do, then leave the next day at 5AM for Almaty. We all agreed.

We got to bed at 11:00 or so.


Click here for all of our pictures.


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