Journey One / Chapter 12

Western Kazakhstan

November 2015

First half of my wanderings around spacious Kazakhstan - the Wild West of Kazakhstan, occupied by deserts and steppes almost without vegetation.

After I get of the ferry in Kazakh port of Aktau I set of exploring western part of the country first. Wondering through the city of Aktau, an industrial soviet complex build in the desert, I am getting easily lost. Streets does not have names, rather the city is divided into Micro-Districts (or 'mikrorajon's) and address looks like: 11-14-21, meaning District 11, Building 14, Flat 21. While the city proper seems to fade away, construction of 'new city' on the shore is booming, hoping to become a new summer resort on the Caspian sea.

From Aktau I set on exploring Kazakhstan by train - and this are long days and nights spent on old soviet machines, taking thousdants of miles at a time through vast desert. I visit Atyrau, the country's oil capital with onshore and offshore drill, and then go to explore Aralsk, a city that once used be a resort on the Aral Sea. As aral sea almost disappeared over the last 40 years, it is but a shadow of its former appeal.

After Aralsk I visit Turkistan, a truly historical city within Kazakhstan. I set to explore mausoleums of famous Muslim poets and mystics sets around the city, and then the mausoleum of greatest of them all just in the city centre. Ultimately my Journey brings me to Shymkent, a 3rd largest city in Kazakshtan, where I witness professional Kazakh horse racer training.