Kazakhstan has changed dramatically in the last decade, mainly thanks to its president Nazarbayev. Sure, this authoritarian ruler could be called crazy by some as he puts on sham elections whenever he wants just so he can test his official’s loyalties and put on a show for the press. Few are willing to challenge his rule, and many praise him for stability and economic growth even though the gap between the rich and poor is still quite obvious. He has however, done a good job of trying to put Astana on the world stage. Using the wealth derived from oil and gas deposits in Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev has enlisted some of the best architects in the world to build unique and mightily impressive buildings for his new capital.
Check out the tower below called Baiterek. From the top of the tower you have 360 degree views, a bar serving cold Turkish beer, and best of all (insert a little bit of sarcasm here) on the observation deck you will fina a malachite pedestal which holds a 4.4 pound slab of solid gold, which in the centre you can see the presidents right hand print. Visitors are encouraged to make a wish before placing their hand on the imprint, and IF you are lucky enough, the national anthem might start playing (said to have been written by the president himself). I’m also assuming that this means that your wish will come true thanks to the magical President himself! Who knows, maybe he will be your fairy godmother for the day or night? 😛
Photos taken from http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/02/astana/ludwig-photography#/03-baiterek-tower-670.jpg, Photo taken by Gerd Ludwig
In all honesty, I would love to visit this place. It just seems like the whole idea of this city was built upon the whimsical dream of President Nazarbayev. Also, considering that Kazakhstan is one of the least densely populated states on the planet, the natural beauty of the country would be extrodanairy. Below are some photos to stir your imagination 🙂
Above: Astana at night. Photo taken from http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/02/astana/ludwig-photography#/07-astana-grid-670.jpg Photo taken by Gerd Ludwig
A newly built suburb in Astana. These very american style houses look so out of place. However, it seems that everything in Astana is built for the purpose of standing out. Very eclectic to say the least. Above: Astana at night. Photo taken from http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/02/astana/ludwig-photography#/11-american-like-mcmansions-670.jpg Photo taken by Gerd Ludwig
The photo above is the city of Aqmola. The name was changed to Astana in 1998. As you can see not only the name changed but also the landscape. Once a city on the fringe of Kazakhstan, it has been totally revolutionized. Photo taken from http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/02/astana/ludwig-photography#/02-black-white-astana-670.jpg Photo taken by M. Chumin
Above, Nurzhol Boulevard. Photo taken from http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/02/astana/ludwig-photography#/01-nurzhol-boulevard-floral-670.jpg Photo taken by Gerd Ludwig
The photo above is landscape of Bayanaul National Park.
Photo above taken from http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/kazakhstan-guide/.
Strangely enough, when I looked up Trip Adviser there’s actually quite a few hotels in Astana that have been reviewed! Who would have thought… So who’s up for an adventure?
Until next time!
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