Road Stories #36: Turning 30 in Almaty

Hills surrounding Almaty, Kazakhstan - header

Turning 30 in Almaty

I personally never saw this day coming. I was meant to be young forever. Ok, the fact I can’t do sport without being sore for days or the grey creeping onto what is a slowly depleting stock of hair should have served some notice. But getting old is what happens to other people, people with less luck, past it actors, rock stars, my parents, everybody else, just not me. Stop the clocks and hold back the tide! I refuse to accept the fact!

Despite my protestations, denial, faux-jocular approach, June 13th still marked the day before I joined the 30 brigade. It also happened to be the day that we arrived in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s southern capital and most populous city.

It was a Saturday, our host, a cool Russophone traveller by the name of Vano, was game, so we went out in search of electronic music and a suitable way to mark a milestone. Almaty is expensive but you only turn 30 once so we hit some bars and then a club, and a good time was had. I rolled back the years by showing some of my finest dance moves.

My actually birthday was spent mostly in bed, sleeping off a hangover. I wish I was still in my 20s though…

Visiting Kazakhstan’s southern capital

Almaty is a laid-back place and a really cool introduction to Kazakhstan. Noticeably richer than any of the other Central Asian countries we had visited, life there felt a lot more familiar, the supermarkets were much like you find in Europe, there was a lot more choice, bars felt like in the west, same music, same overpriced beer. People were dressed in the western style with a fair smattering of English speakers. Interestingly, for the largest city in Kazakhstan, we rarely heard Kazakh being spoken, with Russian being the lingua franca of the majority of people.

Apart from persuading Vano to teach us how to play Narde, a Kazakh version of backgammon we also took a little trip to the hills surrounding the city. The highlight of which was climbing a seemingly never ending flight of stairs in the driving rain. More than once the idea of proclaiming ‘I am too old for this shit’ crossed my mind but the moment you start to think you are old, you definitely are.

30 is the new 20.




Rolling hills of Almaty, Kazakhstan

Rolling hills of Almaty

written by: Jon

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