After three months of living in Kokshetau, Kazakhstan, I got a peek into what life was like there. Things are really different there in many ways, but in others it’s not so different. Here’s a few random things I found interesting:
1. There’s a coat check at most restaurants and at the mall. It’s no wonder since everyone is seriously bundled up here, but I love it. No hanging your coat on the back of your chair or shoving it in the side of your booth. It’s amazingly freeing.
2. Taxis are everywhere, and people take them all the time. Some are legit taxis with a dispatch company and others are just random drivers that will pick you up and take you wherever you want to go. Just negotiate the price with your driver before leaving and you’re good to go. I read online this wasn’t the safest mode of transportation, but in our small town of Kokshetau it’s been working out just fine.
3. The people drive like maniacs in all weather conditions. The roads don’t get plowed here like they do back home, which means the roads are often icy and bumpy from packed snow. That doesn’t stop these drivers. Even though I learned to drive in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin, I wouldn’t dare drive in some of these conditions. I’m so impressed that accidents aren’t more frequent. I haven’t seen one yet.
4. No one seems to be bothered by the cold. Where it’s 5 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 below, people are bundled up and out and about. Granted, I’m sure some of this is out of necessity, but I’m still shocked when I see little kids playing outside when the windchill is -30 degrees.
5. They sell fall and winter boots. Winter boots are lined with fur. Fall boots don’t. And the grips on these babies are unreal. No slipping on ice here. Okay that’s not true, but the grips make a huge difference. Why haven’t we figured this out yet?
6. All the trees are painted white. Every single one. The bottom 1/4 or so of each tree trunk gets painted white in the spring. It’s supposed to act as a pesticide of sorts, but I think it may just look cool.
7. There is a lot of open land. It takes hours on end to get from one city to the next. There’s nothing in between. Literally nothing but empty, open land. It’s amazingly desolate – almost beautiful. The only problem is the lack of cell service on the open road.
8. Gas is super cheap and there’s tons of oil here. With prices so low, it’s no wonder people to take taxis everywhere – they don’t cost that much.
9. Apartments are like fortresses with their multiple doors with reinforced locks. I’ve never felt so safe when I was home alone. The first metal door to our apartment had a double deadbolt with two separate keys, and the second wooden door had a third deadbolt.
10. The people here love dill. I’m not kidding. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve never seen so much dill. It’s in almost every salad and sauce. And, it’s one of the only fresh herbs I found other than parsley.
And, here’s some beautiful pictures of Kazakhstan:
- Kazakhstan That You Don’t Expect to See: Borovoe Resort (this one is not too far from Kokshetau)
- Natural Beauty of Kazakhstan
- Unearthly Beauty of Bektau-Ata Landscapes
- Beautiful Landscapes of South Eastern Kazakhstan
- Autumn in the Mountains of East Kazakhstan
- Bridge crossing in Almaty
- Winter in Almaty