Almaty, Kazakhstan

Travelling light

With wonderful memories of our trip to the western Silk Road a few years ago in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, it is time to find out what lies along the eastern section, starting in the ninth largest country in the world and the size of Western Europe: Kazakhstan. Most of the country lies to the north of the Silk Road, but as the old capital, Almaty, lies just across the border from our real starting point in Kyrgyzstan, it was tempting to head here first.

The decision had nothing to do with a recent ad from a Kakakh company called Chocotravel (or is it Shockotravel?) featuring naked flight attendants. A concerned resident, Ekatherina Eltsova, suggested the company might have hit rock bottom.

N.B. Who knew? According to the Daily Mail on 16th august (who else?), the first edible apples were grown in the the Tian Shan mountains on the Kazakh-Chinese border over 4,000 years ago, and reached the west via the Silk Road. Our first stop, Almaty,derives its name from the Kazakh for 'fatherland of the apple'. Surprised Steve Jobs did not set up a factory here.

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