Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I Wanna Go to Kazakhstan!

A while back, I wrote a post about Borat. When the movie opened, Kazakhstan officials raised a fuss about its disrespectful depiction of the country. However, they soon recognized the value of all the free publicity and tied the film in with their growing tourist trade.

Having done some research on the country, I recently realized that I need to visit Kazakhstan. This place is amazing! A former Soviet republic, Kazakhstan is in the process of transforming itself into one of the most futuristic places in the world. The architecture alone is mind-boggling. For example, in the capital, Astana, there is a building, the 344-foot-tall Baiterek (or Byterek) tower, that is designed to represent the tree life. Clasped in its "branches" is a 300-ton glass ball that houses an observation deck. Here's what it looks like:

And here's what it looks like at night:

Inside the Baiterek sphere, there's a palm print embedded in a gold and silver triangle:

Touching the palm print causes the Kazakh national anthem to play.

Now, honestly, how cool is that?

And that's not all. Here's the ministry of transportation:

Some people call this building "the cigarette lighter," for obvious reasons. But it looks so damn cool!

Here's the "Astana Tower":

I need to point out that this is a real building, not a virtual-reality mock-up. At least, I think it's a real photo. Here's another shot:

Check out this one, which is imaginatively titled the "Building of Oil and Gas Companies I":

Additionally, the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev (isn't that an insanely cool name? Way better than "George Bush"!), has built a huge pyramid in Astana, and is in the process of constructing Khan Shatyry, a gigantic, transparent tent that will cover 100,000 square meters of the city and raise the temperatures in the districts it protects. This is necessary because of one of the major downsides to Kazakhstan: it's incredibly cold. During the winter, the temperatures drop to 40 degrees below zero, and the city regularly freezes for six months of the year.

Okay, that's a serious shortcoming. For that matter, it's also somewhat disturbing that Nursultan Nazarbayev (seriously, what a cool name! Try saying it aloud.) is essentially a benevolent dictator. Still, nobody's perfect, and given my own president's prediliction for undermining the Bill of Rights, I have to admit that I might not be in a position to talk about dictatorships. Besides, I'm not planning on moving there.

At least, not until they build the big-ass tent.

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  • I'd check out the local cuisine before you get too excited and book your flight...


    By Blogger Glamourpuss, At February 14, 2007 at 9:02 AM  

  • So they're constructing a dome b/c this "Earth" environment just isn't cutting it for humans.... Hmmmmm. I wonder if there's a velvet rope and bouncer at the door.

    By Blogger Matt, At February 14, 2007 at 11:33 AM  

  • I think we should definitely go.

    I need to visit the big yeller building n' shit.

    By Blogger misanthropster, At February 14, 2007 at 11:44 AM  

  • I'm stopping by all my favorite friend's blogs to wish them Happy Valentines Day... or whatever.

    And no it is not because I haven't a real person to say it to.

    Okay maybe it is.


    By Blogger Just D, At February 14, 2007 at 12:00 PM  

  • Very cool architecture.

    By Blogger Pickled Olives, At February 14, 2007 at 12:40 PM  

  • -40 degrees does not phase this Northern Minnesotan.

    You've convinced me. I'm heading to Travelocity.

    By Blogger Jocelyn, At February 14, 2007 at 3:26 PM  

  • Puss-
    Having eaten haggis, black and white puddings, steak and kidney pie, marmite, and a few other treats, I'm eager to try something new.

    Although some of the blood dishes are a little off-putting!

    Maybe the secret police do that?

    Not to mention the one that sings you the anthem when you touch the handprint!

    Happy Valentine's day! It's good to hear from you!

    I know! It looks like the future, doesn't it?

    Blaze the trail for me. I'll see you there!

    By Blogger Crankster, At February 14, 2007 at 5:07 PM  

  • Touché.

    We also have a Dome.

    It was the beginning of the end.

    PS. Ever tried Stargazey Pie?

    By Blogger Glamourpuss, At February 14, 2007 at 5:30 PM  

  • Wow! I had no idea. I remember when the Soviet Union broke up, Belaris wanted back in almost immediately. I hope they made it on their own, and that they also have some innovative architecture going on.

    I especially like the L'Arc de Triumph-like building.

    By Blogger heartinsanfrancisco, At February 14, 2007 at 5:39 PM  

  • Ummm....where are the people? Is this from Star Trek?

    By Blogger Lee, At February 14, 2007 at 6:42 PM  

  • I judged a Kazakhstan team at Odyssey of the Mind in Boulder,CO a few years ago. Their costumes were made of pure silk and we were in a quandry as to how to allow for the cost limit of $135 to solve the entire problem. The costumes were as beautiful and colorful as the buildings in the pictures and they put a $5 each value on them. I'm thinking I don't want to live there, but a shopping trip...yes!

    By Blogger Spellbound, At February 14, 2007 at 7:11 PM  

  • A friend is a foreign service agent and just spent 2 years in the US Embassy in Kazakhstan. Go read her blog for lots of cool stories, and amazing photography...

    Her husband is an amazing photographer, and they spent a lot of time traveling around the area. Very, very cool

    By Blogger WanderingGirl, At February 14, 2007 at 7:22 PM  

  • I love the CIS countries. Especially central asia is beautiful! Not sure if I will ever be able to visit them, but good luck to you.

    By Blogger ramo, At February 15, 2007 at 2:57 AM  

  • Wow
    Seriously nice art deco architecture in colors loud enough to need their own licence. Thats the strange thing about Dictators they are all about Lavish buildings, (Saddam had a gold toilet didnt he?) The Oil & Gas buildings is reminiscent of a building that we seen in Prague when taking a taxi ride near the jewish quarter- Ahh Happy days.. Anyway half the reason why you want to go there if anything is for the cow punching is it not LOL?

    By Blogger Judith, At February 15, 2007 at 9:25 AM  

  • Kazakhstan - its just fun to say :-)

    hi cranky - I'm a lurker coming out of lurking status to say

    if you ever go there - I hope you have a weak sence of smell. A friend of mine went there to teach english in a school for a summer and that was one thing that she noted - it has a VERY strong smell.

    So strong that at the airport as she arrived home, her dad (a normally uncommenting kinda guy) said that she should shower as soon as humanly possible :-)

    ~ just something else for you to consider ~


    By Anonymous Anonymous, At February 15, 2007 at 10:53 AM  

  • I'm there, if you ever put together a guided tour with a big bus.

    Welcome back, by the way. It's good to have you blogging again.

    By Blogger Mystic Wing, At February 15, 2007 at 11:24 AM  

  • Those are some damn cool buildings! I like the old car in front of big yellow too.

    By Blogger Claudia, At February 15, 2007 at 12:19 PM  

  • You should write travel brochures.

    By Blogger Lex, At February 15, 2007 at 5:53 PM  

  • Puss-
    Stargazey pie? Do tell!

    Isn't it wild? It's like they've crossed Soviet-era architecture with Sci-fi!

    I think they might be staying inside because it's so damn cold. This also might be why the air is so clear in the pictures.

    Yet another reason to go!

    Thanks for the tip! I've started checking it out, and will definitely have to write more about all this.

    Who knows if I'll ever have the money, but it's something to save up for...

    "Colors loud enough to need their own licence."

    How do you come up with stuff like this? And yes, the cow punching would be half the fun!

    You've given me something to think about. On the one hand, the winter would be bitterly cold. On the other hand, it's a lot harder to smell the country when it's so damn cold. I'll have to weigh my options.

    By the way, thanks for speaking up!

    Mystic Wing-
    I'll definitely give you a heads up. And thanks for the welcome!

    You're looking at the ironic composition of the picture, aren't you?

    You artists...

    But if I did it for a living, I'd have to be serious and mature about it.

    Good to see you!

    By Blogger Crankster, At February 15, 2007 at 11:45 PM  

  • Here you go: Stargazey Pie

    By Blogger Glamourpuss, At February 17, 2007 at 8:20 PM  

  • Glamourpuss-

    That's the most revolting thing I've ever seen. I won't tell you exactly what it makes me think of, but here's a hint:


    By Blogger Crankster, At February 18, 2007 at 8:25 PM  

  • You have insulted my local cuisine. You must realise, to a feline such as myself, Stargazey Pie represents, bliss, utter bliss...

    (Actually, it is foul - you take one look and think 'you want me to eat that shit?!')


    By Blogger Glamourpuss, At February 19, 2007 at 5:17 AM  

  • Puss-
    I have to admit that most British cuisine at least looks good. Stargazey pie, though, looks like a coral reef crossed with an infection.

    By Blogger Crankster, At February 20, 2007 at 10:07 PM  

  • thanks but i'll stay here. i can pronounce george bush....

    smiles, bee

    By Blogger Empress Bee (of the High Sea), At February 25, 2007 at 8:15 AM  

  • Bee-
    I guess language would be a little problem. Still, a glowing spherical building is tempting...

    By Blogger Crankster, At February 26, 2007 at 12:35 PM  

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